How film newbies Harry Styles, Fionn Whitehead survived Dunkirk
Fionn Whitehead and Harry Styles have a unique brotherhood bond.
The British duo make their film acting debuts in epic style, starring as soldiers in Christopher Nolan’s Second World War action thriller “Dunkirk.”
Whitehead, 20, was working in a coffee shop before he got the call to play Tommy. Styles, 23, came from a very different direction, One Direction music stardom, to earn the role of Alex.
“It was nice to not be the only newbie on set,” Whitehead says. “We were thrown into the same boat, really.”
Off the boat as well, as “Dunkirk” depicts the famed British troop evacuation across the English Channel, with both characters reeling when their ships are sunk by German attacks.
Q: How real did the drowning scenes feel underwater?
Whitehead: The minute you’re starved of oxygen, you get this slight sense of panic anyway. Added to that the fact that you’re in the dark. There’s something about swimming in the dark that was so much scarier.
Styles: While you’re down there filming and acting out the scene, you’re also thinking, “I cannot breathe for much longer than this,” which obviously helps the situation.
Q: You guys look exhausted even sitting on the beach between scenes. Were you?
Whitehead: I was knackered. Any time we look tired or cold or waterlogged, it was because a lot of time we were. So when the cameras were on, it was about being as natural as possible and trying to avoid acting.
Styles: We all, along with the crew, were just getting rest when we could. They didn’t put us in heated tents or anything like that between scenes. You were out there still. It really stripped you down to your bare bones. It made the whole film kind of come out in its rawest form.
Q: Harry, your Alex goes dark during battle, was that difficult for a laid-back guy to bring out?
Styles: I really enjoyed it. Absolutely. It’s so different to try and completely remove yourself from a situation and be someone else. It was something new for me.
Harry Styles, from left, Aneurin Barnard and Fionn Whitehead in “Dunkirk.”