Harry Styles: Why ‘Dunkirk’ Director Christopher Nolan Gave Him The Part

Harry Styles is acting in a new movie, and the buzz almost broke the internet. Fans of the One Direction singer/songwriter went wild after the first pictures of Harry on set in the feature film Dunkirk hit social media. Harry, with a newly-short hair style, was pictured “wounded” in uniform on the set of the movie.

But just how did the de facto lead from the biggest boy band in the world get a part in Christopher Nolan’s latest epic? Everyone from Directioners, to WWII history buffs, to Nolan fansites are debating whether Styles has the acting chops necessary to appear in a war movie, especially one with Nolan at the helm.

Everyone can relax now though, the casting director himself has stated exactly why he chose Harry. Speaking to The Mirror, John Papsidera explained the decision.

“Harry was absolutely right for the role. As an actor he is unknown, but his readings made him an obvious choice. We thought he was fresh and interesting and he won the role. It wasn’t because he’s a well known pop star – if anything that was more of a detriment, because it could bring the wrong message and we don’t want people pulled out of the film because of who they are.”

While some thought that having Harry Styles in his movie would be great promo for Nolan, it’s true that a lot of eyebrows were raised in Hollywood when Harry’s casting was announced. Christopher is one of the highest-grossing and successful directors of the last few decades.

While Styles and his One Direction bandmates have fought against the “boy band” niche, it’s not going away anytime soon. The image most of the public have of Harry doesn’t really gel with the idea of a serious actor.

With his casting in Dunkirk, Harry may finally get noticed as more than just a pop star. Papsidera seems to think the risk of casting Styles is worth it.

“Our aim was to have people who are fresh and don’t bring a lot of prior work with them, so the audience will be really immersed in the film and not struggling with recognizable famous personalities. So Harry really had to overcome hurdles to get past that. He fought hard for it and his work was impressive and that’s what attracted us to him.”

Harry certainly put a lot of effort into getting cast. Fans were wondering why Styles was constantly getting pictured first in Los Angeles, then in London, earlier this year. Perhaps he was getting caught between readings — he had to do several, according to Papsidera.

“I don’t think he studied acting professionally and yet he won the role against some very well known actors. He read for me, then us collectively in London. He did half a dozen readings, coming back and forth and it was no easy task for him.”

Harry Styles To Appear In New Christopher Nolan Movie, Dunkirk
[Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images]
While the specific plot details of Dunkirk aren’t yet known, the movie is centered around the mass evacuation of Allied troops from the small French town of Dunkerque. The troops had amassed there in late May/early June, 1940, fleeing the advancing German troops. While Harry is playing a British soldier, the exact details of his character are being kept quiet.

Styles will be appearing alongside several noteworthy actors, like Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, and even Kenneth Branagh.

Both Harry’s fans and his detractors should be happy with Papsidera’s statement. The integrity of Nolan’s film is safe in Styles’ hands.

“This is a young man who passionately wanted this film and we looked at a lot of actors, certainly in the hundreds, some of them very well-known and many who had been to prestigious acting schools. It’s a great achievement for Harry that he won it, a great feather in his cap and we’re very excited having him in the film. I hope for him that he goes on to bigger things in Hollywood, he’s a lovely guy. I have never gone to his concerts, listened to his music or anything like that. None of us had. Chris’ kids knew who he was and we knew of him but we aren’t followers of his career.”

Harry has promised that One Direction will be back at the end of their hiatus, as have his bandmates Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan, and Liam Payne. Until he’s back on stage, Harry can look forward to excelling in his second career. Papsidera agrees.

“It is absolutely his own talent, ambition and hard work that has got him a part in a Christopher Nolan movie.”

[Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images]

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