Townsville Bulletin - - PLAY -

OU wouldn’t ex­pect to find a star like Harry Styles ly­ing in a trench on a wind- bat­tered coast­line in France for hours on end.

No one in their right mind would want to feel the sting of the sand burn their cheeks for days at a time, but Styles — a man whose star power would al­low him to pick any project he wished — was de­ter­mined to be­gin his act­ing ca­reer with a truly chal­leng­ing role.

For Styles, there would be few Hol­ly­wood roles more fit­ting than de­pict­ing a sol­dier in Christo­pher Nolan’s WWII epic, Dunkirk, the true tale of the evac­u­a­tion of sur­rounded Al­lied troops from the French beach of the same name.

The oper­a­tion, dur­ing which civil­ian boats sent from Eng­land res­cued 300,000 troops from cer­tain cap­ture or death at the hands of the Nazis, has come to be re­garded as one of the most ex­tra­or­di­nary tri­umphs in mil­i­tary his­tory.

Styles says he left the set each day One Di­rec­tion heart- throb Harry Styles got no spe­cial treat­ment along­side a host of fel­low new­com­ers on the set of Christo­pher Nolan’s By scrub­bing sand out of his hair and fend­ing off frost­bite on his toes. Styles laughs as he ex­plains how the cast was made to shiver in trenches on the beach while Nolan — a no­to­ri­ous per­fec­tion­ist — worked to achieve the op­ti­mal scene.

“I’m a big fan of Chris’s films and as soon as I heard about the film I knew I wanted to be in­volved,” he says.

“I couldn’t have asked for a bet­ter first ex­pe­ri­ence but it was a chal­lenge. I think it was a chal­lenge for all of us phys­i­cally.

“You can’t imag­ine be­ing in the po­si­tion that those sol­diers were in at the time but, we def­i­nitely had to act cold. It was as real as some­one could make it.

“That is what makes Chris so amaz­ing. He wants it to be very nat­u­ral and he wanted to make it real. He made things blow up around us so we would give very nat­u­ral re­ac­tions.”

The One Di­rec­tion singer, who has per­formed on stage in front of thou­sands of scream­ing fans ad­mit­ted to feel­ing “in­tim­i­dated” by the size of the project at first glance. “The ini­tial feel­ing I had was that the scale of what we came into was so much big­ger than ex­pected,” Styles says. “It was su­per in­tim­i­dat­ing. But when you started see­ing how much they de­velop the char­ac­ters around the set you start to re­lax.

“Chris is amaz­ing at mak­ing you feel com­fort­able on set and there is no spe­cial treat­ment for any of the ac­tors.

“I don’t think he com­pro­mises in terms of only hav­ing one chance to film things like a plane over­head. He takes his time and gets it right, which takes the pres­sure off us.”

Nolan cer­tainly didn’t give Styles any spe­cial treat­ment. The famed di­rec­tor sheep­ishly ad­mit­ted to not know­ing ex­actly who Styles was dur­ing cast­ing.

“I don’t think I was that aware re­ally of how fa­mous Harry was,” Nolan said re­cently.

“My kids talked about him, but I wasn’t re­ally that aware of it.”

Nolan said the singer sim­ply au­di­tioned and scored the role. It was clear Styles had de­vel­oped a strong bond with the cast of up- and- com­ing stars who joined him on set. They look at ease sit­ting next to each other in a Lon­don ho­tel room and are happy to de­scribe each other as “fam­ily”.

For UK ac­tors Tom Glynn- Car­ney, 22, Jack Low­den, 27, and Fionn White­head, 19, Dunkirk was by far the big­gest credit to their names.

Bri­tish- born Glynn- Car­ney, who grew up hear­ing tales of Dunkirk at school, says the set was like walk­ing through a doc­u­men­tary.

“It was re­ally jaw- drop­ping see­ing these huge mon­u­ments to the sol­diers but as Harry said it was quite a close at­mos­phere that Chris cre­ated,” he says. “You fo­cus more on the scene and the in­ter­ac­tions than dwelling on how big the project is.”

The young ac­tors have been praised by crit­ics for their per­for­mances which is an ac­com­plish­ment when flanked by a cast in­clud­ing Cil­lian Mur­phy, Ken­neth Branagh and Tom Hardy.

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