Christopher Nolan compared his decision to cast Harry Styles in the World War II drama to choosing Heath Ledger to play the Joker in The Dark Knight

By Char Adams
July 10, 2017 02:22 PM

Director Christopher Nolan is speaking out about his decision to cast Harry Styles in Dunkirk, even comparing the choice to another unconventional casting decision of his: Heath Ledger as the Joker.

“When I cast Heath Ledger as the Joker [in The Dark Knight], it raised a lot of eyebrows and caused a lot of comment,” Nolan told Entertainment Tonight. “I have to trust my instincts, and Harry was perfect for this part.”

Styles plays a soldier fighting for his life in the upcoming World War II drama, which marks the singer’s first feature-length role. Little is known about Styles’ character, and trailers for the movie give only glimpses of the One Direction alum.

Nolan told ET that he wasn’t too familiar with Styles before the singer auditioned for the part.

“I was new to Harry. I mean, I’d heard his name from my kids, but I wasn’t really familiar with him,” Nolan said. “What I was seeing [when Styles auditioned] was a very charismatic guy who clearly had a truthfulness and a subtlety in his ability to perform as a film actor.”

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The significance of Nolan’s compliments isn’t lost on Styles, who said the director did all he could to not let Styles’ superstar status impact filming.

Credit: SplashNews

“Chris has this amazing way of making you feel, you know, so welcome and so at ease while you’re working and never lets the surroundings kind of intimidate you,” he told ET.

“Always feels very intimate while you’re filming so never really allows that to, kind of, take over from the important stuff, which is obviously the film that you’re making and the story that you’re telling.”

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Nolan’s latest epic tells the story of the battle of Dunkirk that took place between Nazi Germany and the Allied forces during the Second World War.

The nine-day battle saw the evacuation of British and Allied forces from the beaches of the namesake French town as the Nazis continued their advance on the opposing forces. In the end, 338,226 men escaped.

Dunkirk also stars Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh and Oscar winner Mark Rylance, and is set to hit theaters on July 21.