How Dunkirk Is Unlike Christopher Nolan's Other Blockbusters


Christopher Nolan assembled a number of notable names for his upcoming war movie, Dunkirk, chief among them being Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Harry Styles. Styles' casting should especially do wonders for drawing in the One Direction demographic. However, unlike with his previous movies, Nolan didn't pick any of the above individuals or other famous folks to lead Dunkirk. That honor belongs to nineteen-year-old Fionn Whitehead, and there's a good reason for that.

As part of EW's look at some of the major movies coming out in 2017, Christopher Nolan talked about why it was important to cast an unknown as the lead in Dunkirk, noting how it was important to make sure the main character properly represented the youth of many of the soldiers at the actual Dunkirk event during World War II. Nolan said:

One of the key things you came across reading firsthand accounts of Dunkirk was how young and inexperienced these soldiers were. It felt very important to me, especially for Fionn's part, to find somebody very new.

Before Dunkirk, Fionn Whitehead biggest role was starring in the ITV miniseries Him, where he played a teenager who discovered that he had telekinetic abilities. One can only imagine how many others he had to beat to snag the role of British private Tommy in Dunkirk, but this will be his big debut for many moviegoers across the world. Fortunately, he has a good supporting cast to accompany him for Christopher Nolan's latest feature, and no doubt once the movie hits theaters, the audition and casting opportunities for Whitehead will increase tremendously.

Fionn Whitehead

Even though Dunkirk was his first film role, Fionn Whitehead didn't take it easy with the preparation. Here's some of the challenges he went through in the weeks before filming, which included wading through frigid water. Whitehead explained:

I did a lot of swimming in a water-sodden wool uniform, hobnail boots, and with guns. It was hard work, but I really enjoyed it. What's life without a bit of a challenge?

As one could automatically surmise from the title, Dunkirk will follow the Dunkirk evacuation that occurred from May 26 to June 4, 1940, where a large number of British, French and Belgian troops were surrounded from all sides by the German army. Along with the previously mentioned names, the main cast includes Aneurin Barnard, James D'Arcy, Jack Lowden, Tom Glynn-Carney and Barry Keoghan. If you haven't already, check out the trailer that was released earlier this month to get an idea of the war epic will look like.

Dunkirk storms into theaters on July 21, 2017.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.