UPDATE: Christopher Nolan has revealed he had no idea how big a deal Harry Styles was when he cast him in Dunkirk. Billboard reports the director saying “I don’t think I was that aware really of how famous Harry was. I mean, my daughter had talked about him. My kids talked about him, but I wasn’t really that aware of it. So the truth is, I cast Harry because he fit the part wonderfully and truly earned a seat at the table.”
ORIGINAL STORY: Harry Styles makes his acting debut in Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan’s forthcoming account of the legendary WWII rescue mission that involved more than 300k Allied soldiers being evacuated from the French coast over the course of a week.
Dunkirk hits screens in July, but will the involvement of the former One Direction singer make the movie a mint at the global box office? Or is it stunt casting that might alienate serious film fans?
Why Casting Harry Styles Might be a Mistake
Christopher Nolan doesn't seem like the kind of director who would cast a pop star in his movie to get teenage bums on seats. And he said as much when recently asked about Styles. "For the guys on the beach, we really wanted young unknowns" he explained to the
"For the guys on the beach, we really wanted young unknowns" he explained to the LA Times. "He’s not that unknown, but he’d never done anything as an actor before. So he auditioned. I auditioned literally thousands of young men with different combinations of young men. And he had it."
The transition from pop star to movie star isn't always smooth however. Mariah Carey, Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears were laughed at. Vanilla Ice fared even worse. And the less said about the Spice Girls movie the better. Though it's perhaps unfair to compare a WWII drama to Spice World. No matter how much fun we'd have writing such a feature.
A better comparison is Justin Timberlake. The former N-Sync star launched his acting career proper with crime thriller Edison, and even though the film was forgettable, he (just about) held his own against heavyweights Kevin Spacey and Morgan Freeman.
Styles is starting out opposite equally serious thespians, with his Dunkirk co-stars including Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh and Cillian Murphy. Making it very much a matter of the movie being sink or swim for the youngster, both metaphorically, and literally if the trailers are anything to go by. We just hope that if it's the former, he doesn't take the film down with him.
Timberlake turned that solid start into a genuine career however, appearing in the critically acclaimed likes of The Social Network, Inside Llewyn Davis and Black Snake Moan. If Styles follows a similar path, we could have a new acting star on our hands.
Why Harry Styles Might be Dunkirk's Secret Weapon
Harry Styles is one of the biggest stars in the world. His group was the most successful boy-band on the planet until they went on hiatus last year. The numbers are phenomenal: their first four albums debuted at number one on the U.S. charts, the group's third album was the biggest seller of 2013, and their 2014 world tour was the highest grosser of that year. In short, the One Direction name was - and still is - a license to print money.
Harry himself was arguably the most popular member of the band,with his high-profile relationship with Taylor Swift meaning he was constantly in the tabloids. The 23-year-old therefore doesn't just sell albums and tours, but also newspapers and magazines. And dolls, pillow-cases and lunch-boxes. In short, he himself is a money-making machine, with millions and millions of fans.
If they all go to see Dunkirk, it will expose the film to an audience for whom war dramas wouldn't traditionally be high on the agenda. Combine that huge number with Christopher Nolan fans, Tom Hardy fans, and people who want to see an epic story told on an epic scale, and Dunkirk will make its mega-budget back many times over.
Indeed bolstered by Styles involvement, Dunkirk is already dominating the movie conversation online, overshadowing the likes of Wonder Woman and The Dark Tower, both of which also debuted new trailers this past week.
It's also inspiring countless memes, mainly revolving around Harry potentially drowning in the film. And eating what looks like a cream bun.
We'll just have to wait and see if that internet buzz, those many memes, and the acting debut of one of the biggest pop stars on the planet turns into box office gold when Dunkirk hits screens on July 21st.