If you don't count the times he appeared as himself in the Nickelodeon television series iCarly and the concert film One Direction: This Is Us, the World War II suspense-thriller Dunkirk will mark the acting debut of Harry Styles. With any other director, we would consider this to be stunt-casting, but with Christopher Nolan at the helm, we must assume he saw something special — aside from his much-talked about hair — in the 23-year-old English singer/songwriter.
"When we put the cast together, we had some established names: Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy. But for the guys on the beach, we really wanted young unknowns," Nolan told the LA Times. "He’s not that unknown, but he’d never done anything as an actor before. So he auditioned. I auditioned literally thousands of young men with different combinations of young men. And he had it."
When asked about Styles having to cut his long locks for the role, Nolan gave a curt and unamused reply: "I don’t want to get into it."
And what did Nolan take from the time he spent on The Dark Knight trilogy that he was able to apply to Dunkirk? "I think the time I spent making large scale entertainment — with respect to entertainment, this is suspenseful entertainment," he shared. "My 10 years of working with the character [of Batman] is essential to understanding imagery and sound, and push-and-pull in a particular direction."
Dunkirk opens as hundreds of thousands of British and Allied troops are surrounded by enemy forces. Trapped on the beach with their backs to the sea they face an impossible situation as the enemy closes in.
Dunkirk features a prestigious cast, including Tom Hardy (The Revenant, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Dark Knight Rises), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies, The BFG), Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn, Hamlet, Henry V) and Cillian Murphy (Inception, The Dark Knight Trilogy), as well as newcomer Fionn Whitehead. The ensemble cast also includes Aneurin Barnard, Harry Styles, James D’Arcy, Jack Lowden, Barry Keoghan and Tom Glynn-Carney.
The film is being produced by Nolan and Emma Thomas (Interstellar, Inception, The Dark Knight Trilogy). Jake Myers (The Revenant, Interstellar, Jack Reacher) is serving as executive producer.
The behind-the-scenes creative team includes director of photography Hoyte van Hoytema (Interstellar, Spectre, The Fighter), production designer Nathan Crowley (Interstellar, The Dark Knight Trilogy), editor Lee Smith (The Dark Knight Trilogy, Elysium), costume designer Jeffrey Kurland (Inception, Bullets Over Broadway), and visual effects supervisor Andrew Jackson (Mad Max: Fury Road).
Dunkirk will be in theaters July 21, 2017.