Tom Glynn-Carney: ‘Dunkirk is about courage and community, not war’ | Film

Tom Glynn-Carney, 22, plays a teenager who sets sail in a “little ship” with his father to rescue British soldiers in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. But by night, Glynn-Carney is also winning rave reviews on stage in the West End in Jez Butterworth’s The Ferryman, as a young Irishman caught up with the IRA. The Observer’s theatre critic, Susannah Clapp, described his performance as “feral” and “extraordinary”. As a child actor, Glynn-Carney appeared in Peter Pan at the Lyric Theatre Lowry and Macbeth at Manchester’s Royal Exchange, before studying drama at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Dunkirk is a retelling of the allied evacuation of occupied France in 1940. But it feels so contemporary…
Chris [Nolan] wanted that immersive, relatable feel. He didn’t want it to be a war film, he wanted it to be an action thriller, which opens it up to so many more people. This isn’t a film about war – it’s about survival and misery and bravery and courage and community. It’s really important to remember all those things now, especially the age we’re in. If civilians pull together, things can get done.

How did you achieve chemistry with Mark Rylance, who plays your father?
Mark took it upon himself before we started filming to get in touch with me. We’d go for lunch and talk on the phone to try and knit this blanket of back story. Obviously working with an actor like Mark it would have been easy for me to slip into being totally awestruck and not get anything done, but he put me at ease. I love him to bits.

Your co-star Harry Styles has won great reviews for his role in the film, but that level of fame can be scary…
He deals with it admirably. For such a young lad, he’s got his head screwed on. He’s just a normal guy. There was no hierarchy on set. We all pulled together. I made really good mates that I’m going to have for a…

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