It features Harry Styles in his first acting role.
The film's title refers to the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the Dunkirk beaches of France during World War II. Despite casualties, the evacuation was considered a success, with 198,000 British troops saved. For more information see 'Dunkirk Evacuation'.
The Warner Bros feature film began principal photography on May 23, 2016, in Dunkirk, France, before moving to Urk, Netherlands, then Weymouth and Swanage in the United Kingdom. Filming concluded in Los Angeles on September 2, 2016.
Dunkirk is filmed on IMAX 65mm and 65mm large format film stock by cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema.
Speculation of Harry Styles moving into acting began in 2014, but nothing was confirmed. News of Harry landing an acting role in Dunkirk surfaced on March 11, 2016 and quickly made worldwide headlines. Deadline Hollywood reported "It is not believed to be a leading role, though all plot and cast details are being kept closely guarded as is often the way with a Nolan project. Styles’ potential involvement comes after an extensive casting process conducted by Nolan, his co-producer and partner Emma Thomas and Warner Bros. He is believed to have impressed the filmmakers with his readings for the part." While no official confirmation was ever issued, several reliable Hollywood film publications reported the news. Harry was first spotted on set for a costume fitting on May 15, 2016, two months after his role was announced. He was spotted with director Christopher Nolan in photos released on May 24.
Talking exclusively to The Mirror on May 28, casting director John Papsidera stated "Harry was absolutely right for the role. As an actor he is unknown, but his readings made him an obvious choice. We thought he was fresh and interesting and he won the role. It wasn’t because he’s a well known pop star – if anything that was more of a detriment, because it could bring the wrong message and we don’t want people pulled out of the film because of who they are. Our aim was to have people who are fresh and don’t bring a lot of prior work with them, so the audience will be really immersed in the film and not struggling with recognisable famous personalities. So Harry really had to overcome hurdles to get past that. He fought hard for it and his work was impressive and that’s what attracted us to him. I don’t think he studied acting professionally and yet he won the role against some very well known actors. He read for me, then us collectively in London. He did half a dozen readings, coming back and forth and it was no easy task for him. This is a young man who passionately wanted this film and we looked at a lot of actors, certainly in the hundreds, some of them very well-known and many who had been to prestigious acting schools. It is absolutely his own talent, ambition and hard work that has got him a part in a Christopher Nolan movie."
Co-star Mark Rylance told The Evening Standard of his time working with Harry on set, stating "He is one handsome fella with an incredible smile and eyes. What’s really surprised me is he’s really witty, really funny — he really makes me laugh. He’s been ever so brave, not making any fuss. He seems remarkable ... one of those people [who has] — Sean Penn has it too — a kind of panache. I look at them and think, ‘How did you get that? How do you get so that life is easy?’ But he has got a lovely, lovely character. It’s a gift.”
Co-star Cillian Murphy stated "He's a great kid. I actually haven't done any scenes with him but there's a definite crossover between music and film. I actually come from that world myself. He's a really lovely kid, very charismatic, we've had great fun. Chris Nolan's not going to cast an actor unless he's a talented person so I'm sure he'll be amazing."
Harry began speaking about the role in April 2017, stating: "It was one of the best experiences of my life. It was amazing. It was a real challenge. I think the movie’s gonna be great. I think he’s amazing. It was pretty amazing to be involved in the whole project. I’m a massive fan of his movies in general. I really loved being the new guy, to be honest. I loved kinda being so far out from my comfort zone. It felt really good to kinda have no idea what I was doing for a little bit."
- Harry Styles
- Tom Hardy
- Cillian Murphy
- Mark Rylance
- Kenneth Branagh
- James D'Arcy
- Aneurin Barnard
- Fionn Whitehead
- Tom Glynn-Carney
- Jack Lowden
- Barry Keoghan
- Bobby Lockwood