The Big Issue: This is your first major role and it is a very major movie. Was it a bit of a baptism by fire?
Fionn Whitehead: Yeah I guess so but a blessing and a curse. Never knowing anything different, it was take it as it comes. You acclimatise quickly. First day on set walking around seeing these huge constructions, real Spitfires and thousands of extras is jaw dropping but after a while you get used to it and it was only looking back recently that I was realising how crazy it was.
This story isn’t an all-guns-blazing victorious march ahead, it’s about people running for their lives
What does Dunkirk mean to your generation?
I did learn a bit about Dunkirk when I was at school, but it’s not touched upon as heavily as other events in the war, probably because it is seen as a defeat in a lot of ways, although it was turned into a celebration. I think also the spirit of Dunkirk set the mood for the rest of the war in Britain – this real clubbing together, all in it together – it was really the turning point when everyone realised they had to get together and work as a team. That is one of the most interesting things about this story, it isn’t an all-guns-blazing victorious march ahead, it’s about people running for their lives.
Did making the film change your perception of the war?