• Nicholas Galitzine recalls an awkward
    audition with Nolan, where the wrong scene was read, freezing the actor on the spot.
  • Despite not landing
    role, Galitzine has since starred in
    Red, White, and Royal Blue
    Purple Hearts
    , and
  • Dunkirk
    featured casting risks with then-unknown actors like Barry Keoghan and former One Direction singer Harry Styles.



Nicholas Galitzine recalls his failed audition for the film Dunkirk. Dunkirk is a 2017 Christopher Nolan film that tells a tale of a WW2 battle across three separate, intertwining timelines. Dunkirk was critically acclaimed, going on to receive multiple Oscar nominations, including for Best Picture and Best Director. Galitzine is an up-and-coming British actor best known for his recent role in Red, White, and Royal Blue.

As per Variety, Galitzine explains that he “got very far” in the audition process for the film. He was asked to come in for a script read with Nolan, but when he got to the reading, Galitzine was met with a surprise. When the director “start[ed] reading the scene,” it was “not the scene that [the actor] prepared.” Unclear whether he or Nolan had been the one to mess up, Galitzine froze on the spot. Check out the full quote from Galitzine below:

“He starts reading the scene, [but] it’s not the scene that I prepared. I’m just staring at him for what feels like an eternity. And I finally plucked up the courage to say, ‘I’m sorry, Christopher Nolan, you have the wrong scene or I’d just been royally screwed up by my team.’”

Who Was In The Cast of Dunkirk?

At the time of his Dunkirk audition, Galitzine would have been in his early 20s, as the film was released when the actor was only 22 years old. At that time, he was relatively unknown, having only acted in some lesser-known films including The Changeover and Handsome Devil. Even if Galitzine had performed a great Dunkirk audition, Nolan would have been taking a slight risk by casting him. Since then, he has gone on to star in the streaming hits Red, White, and Royal Blue and Purple Hearts, as well as the teen comedy Bottoms.

Passing on Galitzine did not mean, however, that Nolan neglected to cast any unknown actors in Dunkirk. Now an Oscar-nominated star, Dunkirk featured Irish actor Barry Keoghan in a supporting role. Both Dunkirk and fellow 2017 film The Killing of a Sacred Deer marked a launching point in Keoghan’s career, allowing him to act in films like The Banshees of Inisherin, The Green Knight, and most notably, in the 2023 hit Saltburn.


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Dunkirk’s casting was also notable in that it marked the acting debut of former One Direction pop star Harry Styles. In 2017, Styles was already making a splash by launching his solo music career with the smash-hit single “Sign of the Times.” Styles’ post-Dunkirk filmography has been met with mixed reviews, but the Nolan film nonetheless stands out as notable in his budding acting career. Styles and Keoghan joined a more seasoned cast including Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, and Kenneth Branaugh to make for an interesting Dunkirk ensemble.

Source: Variety


This epic tale of World War II tells the story of soldiers from Belgium, Britain, Canada and France, who are surrounded by the German army, and the dangerous operation that evacuated and saved the lives of thousands.

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