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10th Jul 2017

Christopher Nolan compared casting Harry Styles in ‘Dunkirk’ to Heath Ledger’s Joker

The Dark Knight director was full of praise for the former One Direction singer

Rich Cooper

More than a few eyebrows were raised when it was announced that Harry Styles would be joining the cast of Christopher Nolan’s new film Dunkirk.

The 23-year-old had never worked as an actor in a professional capacity and was largely known for being in One Direction and having a massive following of teenage girls. That’s no slight on Styles or his fanbase, but he’s not exactly the sort of person that would spring to mind when casting a survival thriller set in World War II.

Nevertheless, the 1D-singer-turned-solo-artist-turned-actor was cast, and movie fans around the world repeated the same mantra under their breath: Trust in Nolan. In Nolan we trust.

In the run-up to the release of Dunkirk – out in the UK on Friday July 21 – Nolan has been talking about the film, how and why he made it and the actors he cast, including one Mr Harry Styles. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Nolan talked about casting Styles and compared it to giving Heath Ledger the part of The Joker in The Dark Knight.

“As a director, I have to trust my instincts, my ability to figure out who’s the right guy for the part. I’m not too worried about baggage,” Nolan said.

“I was new to Harry. I mean, I’ve heard his name from my kids, but I wasn’t really familiar with him… What I was seeing [when he auditioned] was a very charismatic guy who clearly had a truthfulness and a subtlety in his ability to perform as a film actor.”

“When I cast Heath Ledger as the Joker [in The Dark Knight], it raised a lot of eyebrows and caused a lot of comment,” he added. “I have to trust my instincts, and Harry was perfect for this part.”

The Interstellar and Inception director was full of praise for Styles’ acting chops, but from what Nolan said, it looks as though Harry won’t be doing much scenery chewing in Dunkirk.

“What I’m hoping for, when people see the film, is I’m hopeful that they won’t miss what he’s done, because it’s very subtle, very truthful and real,” Nolan said.

“I wasn’t giving him a sort of flashy thing to do. But it’s really important what he does in terms of what it says, I think, about human nature and what people do in different situations, and I think he pulled it off with incredible grace and reality. And that as a director, that’s what you’re looking for.”

Despite being one of the most famous people on set, Nolan said that Styles left all of his celebrity at the door and just got on with the job at hand.

“Harry was very committed and determined to just being one of the guys and coming there and learning what he could from the most experienced people around him and diving into the role feet first,” Nolan said.

“I think he’s done an incredible job on the film and I’m really excited to show it to people.”

We can’t wait to see it either.