Harry Styles talks Dunkirk, power and politics

In this week's Big Issue, One Direction heartthrob Harry Styles shares his thoughts on acting, history and the reality of a post-Brexit world...

Global pop icon turned actor Harry Styles has spoken to The Big Issue about working with acclaimed director Christopher Nolan in his film debut, Dunkirk.

Styles, who found fame after auditioning for The X Factor in 2010 and becoming a member of One Direction, plays British soldier Alex, alongside newcomer Fionn Whitehead, Hollywood heavyweight Tom Hardy, screen and theatre legend Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and a cast of thousands. He revealed he was in “awe” when he first walked out on set.

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“It’s hard to know what to expect walking into an environment like that and it was amazing,” enthused Styles. “The first surprising thing was the scale of the production. You walk on set the first day and get taken aback by everything.”

He added: “[Nolan] never makes you feel like you have to try too hard. He wants it to be like you’re saying stuff for the first time and doing stuff for the first time – because you are. In terms of first-day memories, we finished one shot and he said, ‘congrats on your first close-up’. It was good.”

You walk on set the first day and get taken aback by everything

The historical action drama tells the story of soldiers being evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk during the Second World War.

Harry also reflected on the importance of capturing a complex event in history for cinema-goers across the world: “All of history is why we are where we are. And I think when you can tell a part of that, a part that is often overlooked, it’s important to do that rather than focusing on the end chapter, which obviously seems much more significant. But a lot of things happened to get to those places, so I think focusing on a very important set of events in history and telling that part of the story is really important.”

Speaking about the current political climate, with increasingly strained international relations and creeping nationalism and isolationism, Harry remained positive: “It’s easy to see it that way but I think you can focus on either side. There is a lot of bad stuff that happens in the world right now. If you choose to focus simply on the negative then obviously it appears much more that way. But there are a lot of good people doing a lot of good things as well.”