Harry Styles is no stranger to being swarmed by hundreds of people, but working on Christopher Nolan’s upcoming World War Two drama, Dunkirk, provided a different experience for the pop star sensation-turned-supporting actor. He was one member of the 1,300-strong ‘beach’ unit who spent six weeks filming on the shoreline of Dunkirk, the primary location for what promises to be an epic retelling of a truly remarkable saga. In anticipation of Nolan’s film, which hits cinemas 21 July, we sat down with Styles to chat about his debut role.
“From a character point of view, the story is stripped back to basic instinct. It’s all about that survival instinct, and how different people reacted to the situation in different ways. So you have clashes and tension between different characters and that intertwines with the land, air and sea theme.”
“The biggest thing I learned from making this movie is that Chris Nolan doesn’t sit down. He leads by example, so any time there’s a break given it’s because he knows everyone else needs one. It makes it really hard to complain because you know he’s been there longer than you, you know he’s the first one there and you know he’s going to be the last one to leave. For him it’s all about making the project the best that it can be, and that’s infectious.”
“A week before we started filming Emma [Thomas, the film’s producer] called me and said, ‘By the way, I forgot to ask… you can swim, right?’ It was a relief to know I could because there was so much swimming involved. However much you train for it, filming in the water for an hour in full clothes is a gruelling experience.”
We also spoke to fellow cast members Fionn Whitehead, Jack Lowden and Tom Glyn-Carney:
“My favourite war film is The Thin Red Line. Chris actually told me to watch it – not as a reference or because it’s a war film but because he just really loves that movie. My great grandad fought in the Second World War. He died before I was born. But my grandfather started out as a solider when he was 16 and fought in Korea and Burma. I talked to him a lot about his experiences, the feeling of being a young soldier involved in a major battle.”
“When I told my mum that I would be playing an RAF pilot she told me that my grandad’s best man was an RAF pilot. That’s probably as close a connection as I have to the War. But it’s interesting that the Scottish borders, where I come from, has loads of old RAF airfields that are now covered up. During the War they were in constant use but many of them were attached to working farms. There’s one story about a farmer who would get an early warning and he would run out and clear all the cattle off the runways.”
“I’ve always been fascinated by history, about why the world is like it is today and how that’s come about. We all read a book by Joshua Levine called ‘The Forgotten Voices of Dunkirk’, which is real-life accounts of the event from people who were there. That was brilliant because you really get a sense of all these different perspectives, of what these men were hearing and seeing and smelling.”
LWLies 70: The Dunkirk issue is on sale now – order your copy today via our online shop.
Published 27 May 2017
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