How Did Harry Styles Get Cast In 'Dunkirk'? His Talent Was Impressive, Not His Boy Band Status

Ever since Harry Styles won a role in Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk, everyone has been itching at a sneak peek into his character and how big his role would actually be. This was big news, considering that Styles had never acted professionally before and was only known as one-fifth of boy band One Direction. Finally, on Dec. 14, a full-length trailer for Dunkirk was released, and it features Styles in a few prominent shots, hinting that he will have an impressive first role on film. So, how did Styles get cast in Dunkirk , anyway? It's not everyday that a first-time actor gets cast in a Christopher Nolan war film.

Some people might assume that Styles got his Dunkirk role simply because he's so well-known as a boy band star, but his initial, obvious charisma was only a small part of the reason he was cast in his first role in such an epic film. In fact, Dunkirk casting director John Papsidera, who has worked with Nolan previously, has asserted in the past that Styles' sheer talent and dedication won him the role. He told The Mirror in May 2016,

“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."

It was a bold move to cast a boy band member in such a serious role, but according to Papsidera, Styles' refreshing energy made him the obvious choice. He said, “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. 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."

While it might be difficult for some to imagine separating Styles from his pop star personality, he seemed to be wholly devoted to showing that he could, which eventually included Styles chopping off his signature long locks, because WWII soldiers unfortunately didn't rock glorious flowing hair.

Papsidera told The Mirror about the actual process that Styles went through to get cast in Dunkirk, and it was just like what any other actor would go through. He said,

"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. 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."
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Get it, Harry! Styles clearly worked hard to set himself apart and snag this role on his own doing. Papsidera said,

"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... It is absolutely his own talent, ambition and hard work that has got him a part in a Christopher Nolan movie. It was because of his passion for being in the film, he jumped through every hurdle we put him through and really won it of his own accord.”

Personally, after knowing how dedicated he was to have this be his first film role, I definitely cannot wait to watch him kill it on screen.