Christopher Nolan is one of the best directors in Hollywood. From casual moviegoers to hardcore cinephiles, everyone watches Nolan’s movie every time it hits theaters. Even though it’s hard to rank his movies, most will agree that the Dark Knight trilogy holds a special place in everyone’s hearts. While Christian Bale was the man in the spotlight, Heath Ledger too carved out his space in the franchise as the nemesis of the caped crusader. In fact, it was Ledger who inspired Nolan to further cast actors like Harry Styles in Dunkirk inspite of backlash from the public.
Why Did Christopher Nolan Cast Harry Styles?
Harry Styles is a globally known popstar with a large fanbase. He has also started diving into acting more now. He got his start in the Christopher Nolan directed film Dunkirk (2017). However, when the singer was cast in the movie, he and Nolan faced a lot of backlash from the general audience. Many thought that the veteran director was making a mistake by casting a former boyband member. However, Nolan revealed that he saw in Styles exactly what he saw in Heath Ledger.
Read More: Johnny Depp Reportedly Turned Down Christopher Nolan’s $2.4B The Dark Knight Trilogy Because of Heath Ledger
In a 2017 interview with Business Insider, Christopher Nolan revealed that he cast Styles in his historical war movie because he saw potential in the star. The acclaimed director also mentioned that he did it to keep surprising audiences. As per the Interstellar director:
“The truth is ever since I cast Heath Ledger as the Joker and raised all kinds of eyebrows, I’ve recognized that this is my responsibility and I really have to spot the potential in somebody who hasn’t done a particular thing before because whether you’re taking about Harry Styles or Mark Rylance you don’t really want to cast them in a position where they are doing something they’ve already done. You want to give the audience something different.”
In another interview with the LA Times, Nolan said that he saw something in Harry Styles that no one else had even though he auditioned multiple actors for his role in Dunkirk. He said:
“When we put the cast together, we had some established names. But for the guys on the beach, we really wanted young unknowns. He’s not that unknown, but he’d never done anything as an actor before. So he auditioned. I auditioned literally thousands of young men with different combinations of young men. And he had it.”
Nolan was right in his casting decision once again because Dunkirk grossed $527 million on a budget of $82.5 to $150 million. It received rave reviews for everyone’s performances and went on to get nominated in 8 categories at the 90th Academy Awards, winning 3.
Read More: “There’s no way you can do this”: Christopher Nolan Refused Henry Cavill’s Most Controversial Scene in $668M Man of Steel to Protect Christian Bale’s Legacy
What Made Christopher Nolan Hire Heath Ledger?
In a way, Harry Styles should credit Heath Ledger for getting a role in a Christopher Nolan film. After all, it looks like the Joker actor influenced Nolan to consider hiring young up-and-coming actors irrespective of their previous reputations. But what did Nolan see in Ledger that made him hire the actor? In an interview with Newsweek, Nolan said that it was a speech he made.
Read More: “I thought it was a mistake”: Christopher Nolan Became Afraid of Heath Ledger Despite Choosing Him for $1B Movie Against Fans’ Demands
As per the veteran Hollywood director:
“I’d met Heath a couple times over the years about different projects, but nothing ever worked out. One time he gave me a speech that a lot of young actors have given me, where they basically say that they haven’t achieved, as serious actors, what they want to before they’re pushed into being movie stars and of all the actors who’ve given me that speech, he’s the only one that I would actually want to pay $10 to see give that kind of performance.”
Nolan also said that Ledger’s performance in Brokeback Mountain influenced his decision to hire him as well. Till now, Styles and Nolan have not collaborated again. The director is currently busy with Oppenheimer.
Oppenheimer will be released on July 21, 2023, and Dunkirk is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Source: Business Insider