How film new­bies Harry Styles, Fionn White­head sur­vived Dunkirk

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - BRYAN ALEXAN­DER SANTA MON­ICA, CALIF. —

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.

WARNER BROS. PIC­TURES

Harry Styles, from left, Aneurin Barnard and Fionn White­head in “Dunkirk.”

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