Harry Styles' 'Dunkirk' Role Is Pretty Impressive

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Many musicians over the years have pulled double duty as actors. From Frank Sinatra and Elvis half a century ago to Rihanna and Beyonce in more recent times, it's not uncommon for music superstars to try and make it in movies, too. The latest is Harry Styles, who makes his acting debut in Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk. But how big is Harry Styles' Dunkirk role? Does he play a significant part, or does he just have a cameo? Nolan is known as a maker of prestige films, and it doesn't seem likely that he would cast a pop star just for the novelty of it, so what's the deal with Styles' role?

Apparently, the One Direction singer can act, too. The World War II film features an ensemble cast including Tom Hardy and Mark Rylance, but Styles' role is just as important as any of theirs. He has one of the main speaking roles in the film, playing a British private named Alex who's attempting — like everyone else — to get off the beach at Dunkirk as they're bombarded by German forces. In addition to having a decent-sized part in the movie, Styles also earned the role through several auditions, beating out thousands of other actors. In other words, he didn't get a pass because he's famous.

"The truth is, Harry auditioned for our casting director, he sent the tape along," Nolan, who has admitted he didn't know how famous the singer was before casting him, told Business Insider. "The casting director rightly pointed out how good it was. We threw him into the mix with many, many other young men and he earned his seat at the table over a series of very hard-fought auditions ... I’m very excited for people to see what he has done in the film. I think it’s truthful and it’s a very tough role he’s playing, too."

Just because Styles has an important role though, that doesn't mean he's in every scene. It's very much an ensemble movie, and he's not the lead, so fans shouldn't expect him to totally steal the show. "We’re not trying to oversell Harry in the movie for the specific reason that it’s an ensemble," Nolan told EW's Kevin P. Sullivan. "We don’t want people who are huge fans of his being disappointed that he’s not in it enough."

Dunkirk may be Harry Styles' first ever acting role, but you'd never know it by watching it. He gives a rousing performance in a meaty role in one of the year's most anticipated films under the direction of one of the most acclaimed filmmakers of today, and I definitely wouldn't be surprised if in a few years fans think of Harry Styles as an actor first and a singer second.