10 Reasons We’re Falling for ‘Dunkirk’ Star Fionn Whitehead

We know you’re partial to a 10 Reasons We Love list, preferably dedicated to an established Anglo favorite like Helen Mirren, Colin Firth or David Tennant. But here we are with a smouldering newbie, so hot right now (or about to be) that we decided to give him his very own list.

Admittedly, we don’t quite know THAT much about Fionn Whitehead, with the wartime film Dunkirk (in theaters today, July 21) being his first lead role in a feature. So while we’re not quite ready to throw around the “L” word just yet, we are definitely on the verge of falling.

Here are 10 reasons we’d like to see a lot more of the young star:

1. Nothing puts him off his game.
With only one acting credit under his belt, for the miniseries Him, Fionn (pronounced Finn) was sent on a casting call, but didn’t know what it was for exactly. He told The Hollywood Reporter in a recent interview, “All people knew was that there was a group of boys auditioning. We didn’t know how many parts there were, how important the roles were. We didn’t know anything.” And, then, he found himself auditioning for Christopher Nolan‘s WWII drama Dunkirk, and not only landed a role, but the lead role of teenage soldier, Tommy.

2. Christopher Nolan saw something in him.
The Dunkirk writer and director has an knack for casting talent in unlikely roles, famously picking Heath Ledger to play the Joker in The Dark Night Rises, which won the late actor a posthumous 2009 Academy Award following his death in 2008. Now, he’s turned his attention to an unknown. Nolan talked about why Whitehead stood out to him: “In Hollywood movies, far too often you’ve got 30 year olds playing these new recruits,” he told Entertainment City. “And so, with Fionn Whitehead, we have a newcomer who has no baggage. People don’t know who he is.” Fionn’s rawness jumps off the screen, making the director’s risky choice a solid one.

3. His performance is outstanding.
We can talk about Fionn forward and backward, but his work is what it’s all about. In Dunkirk, We see the ravages of war through Tommy’s (Fionn’s) eyes, and he tells us the story of how he and his fellow soldiers — 400,000 men to be exact — struggle to evacuate from the northern French seaport, while surrounded by the German army. If you haven’t seen footage of the film just yet, here’s a peek. Fionn’s performance speaks for itself: 

4. He’s got hustle.
Fionn was working in London as a barista and washing dishes just prior to landing Dunkirk. When he could get off-time, he’d go to as many auditions as he could squeeze into his schedule, spurred by a desire to quit his day job. It only takes one role to turn your life around. In Fionn’s case, “the one” turned out to be a whopping whale of a part. But the 20-year-old did study at the National Youth Theatre, so it’s not like his scoring the lead in a blockbuster film happened on some whim. Still, it must have felt like winning the lotto. 

5. He also likes to have fun.
He may be a serious and utterly driven young dude, but it’s not all work work work for our Fionn. He’s also fun! Here he is razzing his Dunkirk co-star Harry Styles. The pair share a lot of on-screen time and down-time, too. Here, the guys answer questions like “Who is the worst morning person?” and which of them is most likely to get “hangry.”

6. He gives sound advice.
In another interview, the journo mentioned that she saw a screening of the wartime film at 7am. Oof! That’s a rough time just to be up and out of the house, let alone be immersed in such heavy material. Fionn felt for her, relaying the time he first saw a preview of the film and advises her what not to be holding while watching. You can check out the video over at New Zealand’s Stuff entertainment site

7. He doesn’t do social media
While we applaud his resolve, for us it’s not SO great, because Instagram and Twitter accounts help with our friendly “investigation” of our favorites. Plus, fans might be a little disappointed because social media is a nice way for audiences to connect. But we admire him for keeping to himself and not drenching the internet with his every thought and selfie. Of course, that could change at any point. And if Fionn does succumb to the lure of the little blue bird, we’ll be delighted. We trust he’ll use his online presence responsibly.

8. He has a good head on his shoulders.
It might be early in his career to be un-grounded, but we have a feeling Fionn will keep it together and avoid typical Hollywood pitfalls. He talked to The Los Angeles Times about what his future holds, saying, “I like to think I’m fairly grounded, and I have friends who will very happily tell me if I’m ever being big-headed. I know things will change. But I’m hoping it’s nothing too drastic.” Sounds like a good plan to us.

9. He chatted with us on the red carpet.
He’s in a big movie, but Fionn’s not too big to stop to for a catch up with our Tom Brook on the red carpet of the NYC premiere of Dunkirk, which happened earlier this week (July 18). Tom asks Fionn about the scale of the production and it sounds… AHmazing. Check out the chat in the below video, along with Christopher Nolan, Mark Rylance, James D’Arcy, Harry Styles and Cillian Murphy: 

10. It’s not just us. 
Dunkirk only just came out, premiering today (July 21). But, moviegoers are already falling for its star — as seen in the Twittersphere — and they know best.

This follower thinks Fionn is being ignored… not by us:

And, finally, the tweeter’s excitement is so uncontainable in the below, her the caption gets cut off:

What do you think of this rising star? 

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