Filmmaker Christopher Nolan has shed some light on his decision to cast high-profile singer Harry Styles in his new film Dunkirk.

The former One Direction star is set to make his acting debut in the WWII ‘suspense thriller’ opposite critically-acclaimed actors Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh and Mark Rylance.

Speaking to the LA Times, Nolan revealed that Styles beat out ‘thousands’ to the role.

“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 made it clear he wanted to shun the ‘celebrity’ angle of Styles’ casting when asked if the 22-year-old was hesitant about cutting his hair for the role, stating simply: “I don’t want to get into it.”

Dunkirk tells the story of Operation Dynamo, a daring plan to rescue 300,000 Allied troops who were surrounded by Nazis soldiers in Dunkirk during World War II.