Christopher Nolan compares Harry Styles in ‘Dunkirk’ to Heath Ledger in ‘The Dark Knight’

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"I have to trust my instincts, and Harry was perfect for this part."

Director Christopher Nolan has compared casting Harry Styles in his new movie Dunkirk to casting Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight.

The One Direction singer-turned-solo star appears alongside Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy and Oscar winner Mark Rylance in Nolan’s eagerly-anticipated war epic, which hits cinemas on July 21.

“As a director, I have to trust my instincts, my ability to figure out who’s the right guy for the part. I’m not too worried about baggage,” Nolan told Entertainment Tonight. “I was new to Harry. I mean, I’ve heard his name from my kids, but I wasn’t really familiar with him… What I was seeing [when he auditioned] was a very charismatic guy who clearly had a truthfulness and a subtlety in his ability to perform as a film actor.”

He added: “When I cast Heath Ledger as the Joker [in The Dark Knight], it raised a lot of eyebrows and caused a lot of comment. I have to trust my instincts, and Harry was perfect for this part.”

Ledger went on to win a posthumous Oscar for his performance as The Joker in The Dark Knight. Earlier this year the actor’s family dismissed suggestions that the role affected his mental health.

Continuing to discuss Styles’ role in Dunkirk, Nolan said: “What I’m hoping for, when people see the film, is I’m hopeful that they won’t miss what he’s done, because it’s very subtle, very truthful and real. I wasn’t giving him a sort of flashy thing to do. But it’s really important what he does in terms of what it says, I think, about human nature and what people do in different situations, and I think he pulled it off with incredible grace and reality. And that as a director, that’s what you’re looking for.”