Hollywood Movies

Christopher Nolan Knew His Most Experimental $530M Movie after Memento Needed Hollywood Despite Having No American Stars

May 27, 20243 Mins Read

Over the years, Christopher Nolan has gained a reputation for his storytelling. Regardless of era, gender, personality, or region, one can always count on him to perfectly represent the depths of human emotion, tied in with some scientific phenomenon. On top of these, he has depended on both real life and fiction to draw inspiration for his masterpieces.

Fionn Whitehead in a still from DunkirkFionn Whitehead in a still from Dunkirk
Fionn Whitehead in a still from Dunkirk [Credit: Warner Bros.]

When it comes to the former category, there is no better example than his 2017 classic, Dunkirk. There are several interesting things about the war film, ranging from how it stands out in Nolan’s filmography, to its interesting World War II premise. However, the most intriguing has to be its choice of cast.

Dunkirk (2017) [Credit: Warner Bros.]

Despite Nolan being half-American himself, the entire movie’s cast only consists of British actors. During an interview, he gave the reason for such casting, and it is safe to say that his motivations were quite interesting.

Dunkirk—An All-British American Film

During the press tour of Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan gave an interview with Time, where he went into great detail about his film. He talked about his motivations for telling a story about British soldiers and his filmmaking process. He was specifically asked why he thought the story had not been told before and his answer was quite interesting.

Christopher nolanChristopher nolan
Nolan on the sets of Dunkirk | HellaCinema via Wikimedia Commons

It would seem that when Nolan was making the movie, he consciously wanted to be British-dominant. He decided to hire a cast of only British actors and make a backdrop that, at its core, made the project an English one. The reason for such an international bias was that he believed the film was a tale that desperately needed to be told.

Yes, I do. What I realize in retrospect is this is a British film—it has no Americans in it—but it needs the Hollywood studio machine to be able to make something technically on the scale that’s necessary to do this story justice. 

Cillian Murphy in Dunkirk (2017)Cillian Murphy in Dunkirk (2017)
Cillian Murphy in a still from Dunkirk (2017) [Credit: Warner Bros.]

However, he did not think that the film would get a lot of attention had it been made outside of the United States of America. According to Nolan, he needed the resources Hollywood had to offer so that the movie could find the audience it so desperately was looking for.

Christopher Nolan Wanted to Tell a Universal Tale

Christopher Nolan elaborated on why he wanted the entire world to know Dunkirk’s story. The Oscar-winning director knew, even when he was making the movie, that it was a tale that many could relate to. It showcases the horrors that soldiers experience on a daily basis but focuses more on psychological torment than grandiose displays.


I’ve always seen Dunkirk as a universal story, something that anybody could relate to. But the reason why it hasn’t been made before is it requires such massive resources.

harry styles in dunkirkharry styles in dunkirk
Harry Styles in a still from Dunkirk [Credit: Warner Bros.]

Although not every member of his audience had some personal connection to what happened at Dunkirk, Nolan knew that everyone who watched the film would be able to find themselves in it in some way or another. Due to this, he wanted to make sure that it got the same treatment that other big productions in Hollywood get so that it could get as big of an audience as possible.


Dunkirk is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

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