Jack Lowden steals the show as Tom Hardy's fellow British pilot in Dunkirk

By Kara Warner and Ale Russian
July 29, 2017 09:00 AM

It can be easy for a young actor to get lost next to a powerhouse like Tom Hardy, but with his good looks and piercing blue eyes, Dunkirk’s Jack Lowden managed to stand out in all the right ways.

The Scotland native, 27, plays one of the film’s two main British Spitfire pilots opposite Hardy — and even with a pilot’s mask sometimes covering his face, Lowden is leaving a lasting impression on audiences.

While Dunkirk marks Lowden’s biggest role to date, the young actor is no stranger to the big screen — or the stage. “When I was at school I realized, maybe out of laziness, that that’s what I could do,” he told PEOPLE of acting.

“That’s what I pursued. I saw one particular play when I was about 16, 17 called Black Watch,” he added. “It was one of the best plays I’d ever seen, so from then on [I wanted to act].”

Melinda Sue Gordon

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By the age of 19, Lowden was starring in Black Watch himself, earning rave reviews as the production toured the globe. He went on to enjoy a highly-respected four year stage run, doing some TV work in his free time. His first feature film came in 2014 with ’71, an award-winning historical thriller. In 2016 he starred in the BBC TV series War & Peace, and was also nominated for a BAFTA Scotland Award for his leading role in Tommy’s Honour.

Even with his considerable credentials, Lowden said he couldn’t wait to meet Hardy. “I will be forever indebted to him for some of the advice he gave me,” he told PEOPLE. “He’s a very smart man and he understands what it’s like when you’re starting out. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t press him for some pearls of wisdom, but he sort of volunteered a lot of them up.”

Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

He also found the Mad Max actor “so approachable,” and said, “I think he’s easily one of the most talented actors that’s ever been onscreen. He’s just phenomenal.”

Another perk of filming the war epic, which tells the story of World War II’s most daring rescue mission, was getting to sit in the real Spitfires that the Royal Air Force piloted in the war.

“I wouldn’t say that I know how to fly a Spitfire,” Lowden confessed. “We had some brilliant pilots doing that, but I certainly know what it was like. It’s pretty intense, and tiny and claustrophobic and hot. It must have been exhausting.”

Dunkirk is in theaters now.