After experimenting with dreams, space, and comic book movies, acclaimed director Christopher Nolan is turning his attention towards war. His next directorial outing, Dunkirk will hit theaters in the heart of summer 2017, even though the film itself looks as though it could land Nolan that elusive Best Director Oscar nomination. Dunkirk tells the story of the related WWII battle and the rescue efforts that took place immediately after it. Nolan has assembled yet another impressive cast here, with Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh and Mark Rylance headlining the film.

However, they are not the only notable cast members – as two of the young soldiers in Dunkirk will be portrayed by relative newcomers to the acting business. One Direction’s Harry Styles has received much of the attention for being part of the film’s cast, but will be Fionn Whitehead that serves as Dunkirk‘s young protagonist. Thanks to a new photo, fans can now get better acquainted with Whitehead and learn more about his role and how he prepared for it.

The new Dunkirk image and details come courtesy of EW as the site previews the most anticipated movies of 2017 – which Dunkirk certainly qualifies as. Nolan had no shortage of options when it came to casting the role that Whitehead got, and it sounds like his inexperience is what made him the choice. As the filmmaker put it:

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.

Fionn Whitehead in Dunkirk Dunkirk Image & Details: Christopher Nolan Tackles WWII History

Even with Whitehead being the least known cast member in Dunkirk, he will play the lead character: Tommy, a British private. After he landed the role, Whitehead went to the film’s set ahead of the start of production in order to get in character and experience the harsh conditions he would be subjected to, ahead of time. As Whitehead told EW:

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?

Whitehead has found himself in a terrific situation of getting to work with a director like Christopher Nolan for his first Hollywood role. Nolan has helped launch or elevate the careers of countless other actors, which could put Whitehead in the position of being one of the most sought-after young star after the movie has been released. He does not appear to be relying on Nolan to carry him through the film either, with his level of dedication already on display with his training.

His Dunkirk prep work should only further allow Whitehead to deliver a good performance, as he can draw from actual experience now instead of simply imagining what it would be like in be in wartime conditions. Now everyone will have to wait and see if Whitehead has what it takes to lead a big budget film – though with all the great talent around him, there shouldn’t be too much pressure on his shoulders.

NEXT: The Real History Behind Dunkirk

Source: EW

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