In addition to the hype surrounding the release of Harry Styles‘ solo album, there’s another highly anticipated moment weighing on his fans’ minds: his acting debut in Dunkirk.
The singer is marking his big-screen arrival in Christopher Nolan‘s buzzed-about war movie, but because the director famously keeps plot details under wraps, there isn’t a lot of information out there on Styles’ character. In the two trailers released so far, Styles appears only briefly and it’s not always in the best light as he’s seen swimming for his life in both.
Will his character live to see the light of day? Here’s everything we know so far about Styles’ work in the film:
He cut his famous locks for the role
The No. 1 question fans had when Styles was cast in the epic was simple: Would he have to cut his hair? The answer, unfortunately, was yes — and Styles himself confirmed it in an Instagram post showing off a long, shorn ponytail shortly before filming began.
“I felt very naked for a while,” Styles told Nick Grimshaw on BBC’s Radio 1 Breakfast Show of his new look. “I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ve gotta shave my hair off.’ It wasn’t a hard decision, it got made into a wig.”
Christopher Nolan auditioned “thousands” for the role
Styles beat a slew of contenders for the plum part, but in the end, Nolan was confident the singer — who had no prior acting experience — could handle the role.
“When we put the cast together, we had some established names: Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy,” Nolan told The Los Angeles Times. “But for the guys on the beach, we really wanted young unknowns. [Styles] is 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.”
Dunkirk costume designer Jeffrey Kurland is a fan
Costume designer Jeffrey Kurland tells PEOPLE that viewers are in for a “surprise” after seeing Styles work his acting chops.
“He’s got his head screwed on right,” Kurland says., “He’s a terrific guy with a great sense of humor and he’s quite talented – not just in music. It’ll surprise [fans] because he’s so talented, just to see him in an acting role, doing something quite different from what he usually does and how successfully I feel he’ll be at it.”
Styles admits that his first acting gig was a “real challenge”
“It was one of the best experiences of my life, honestly — it was amazing, it was a real challenge,” Styles told BBC 2’s Dermot O’Leary. “I really loved being the new guy, to be honest. I loved being so far out of my comfort zone. It felt really good to kind of have no idea what I was doing for a little bit. .”
His character’s fate hangs in the balance
Styles’ character’s name has yet to be officially revealed — but will he survive? Fans have been parsing out details from the trailer, which includes a fraught underwater scene involving the actor. However, this film is based on a heroic real-life mission during which 330,000 French, British, Belgian and Dutch soldiers were safely evacuated.
Additional photos of Styles on set appears to show the character in a jovial mood, hanging out of the window of a train as people hand him beer bottles and he takes a swig from them.
Is he heading home, or heading to war? Dunkirk opens July 21.
- With reporting by KARA WARNER