Christopher Nolan Says He Didn't Realise How Famous Harry Styles Was Before He Cast Him in Dunkirk

Mary Rylance has also discussed working with the newbie

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We didn't necessarily have Christopher Nolan down as a big One Direction fan, but we were still surprised to hear he didn't know how famous Harry Styles was before he cast him in Dunkirk.

Nolan's anticipated World War II epic - which is released in cinemas next week - follows the titular bloody battle between Allied soldiers from Belgium, Britain, Canada and France as they're surrounded by the German army.

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And things don't look too rosy for Styles as a young British soldier in the film's most recent trailer.

"I don't think I was that aware really of how famous Harry was," the Inception director told AP. "I mean, my daughter had talked about him. My kids talked about him, but I wasn't really that aware of it."

Defending his decision to cast the singer, he continued: "So the truth is, I cast Harry because he fit the part wonderfully and truly earned a seat at the table."

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Speaking previously about the impressive cast - which includes Oscar-winner Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, and newcomer Fionn Whitehead - and casting some unknowns too, Nolan had told the L.A Times: "When we put the cast together, we had some established names.

"But for the guys on the beach, we really wanted young unknowns. [Styles] is not that unknown, but he'd never done anything as an actor before. So he auditioned. I auditioned literally thousands of young men with different combinations of young men. And he had it."

Meanwhile, Whitehead - who along with Styles makes his feature film debut in the drama - admitted that all the Harry Styles hysteria had "got a bit silly". But he added it wasn't Styles' fault, and that he gives a "great" performance in the movie.

"He's great, he's a good actor and a lovely guy," the 20-year-old up and coming star told Digital Spy. "I think the hysteria – [perhaps] it should have been expected when you take a figure like that and give him a short back and sides and put him in a uniform.

"I think it's got a bit silly really. People are putting too much emphasis on Harry being in it, but that is in no means a reflection on him.

"He hasn't asked for any of this. In terms of the media, they have put too much emphasis on this one guy instead of the piece as a whole and the ensemble as a whole."

Rylance also joked that about Styles and his "nice" hair as he collected his BAFTA for Wolf Hall last year, telling reporters: "My 11-year-old niece has taken interest in my profession all of a sudden because of Harry Styles.

"My niece showed me a video of him the other day. He has nice hair."

Dunkirk arrives on the big screen on July 20, 2017 in the US and UK.