Emma Thompson

How Fionn Whitehead went from washing dishes to starring in Christopher Nolan's 'Dunkirk'

How Fionn Whitehead went from washing dishes to starring in Christopher Nolan's 'Dunkirk'

A year and a half ago, Fionn Whitehead was an unknown aspiring actor working in a coffee shop in the Waterloo district of London. On his off hours, he’d go in for every audition he could, hoping to catch a break that would free him, he says, from “washing dishes and taking orders from angry businessmen.”

Then one day Whitehead went in to read for a part in director Christopher Nolan’s World War II thriller, “Dunkirk,” and — if you’ll forgive the Hollywood cliché, which happens to be true here — everything changed.

Arriving in theaters on July 21, “Dunkirk” recounts the harrowing story of the evacuation of nearly 400,000 British and Allied soldiers from the beaches of...

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