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The Christopher Nolan collaborators who will transform Dunkirk into a masterpiece


How come Christopher Nolan's movies are so consistently great? One of the secrets of his success is Nolan's enthusiasm for collaboration. He frequently works with the same people, both in front of and behind the camera, pooling their talents in the service of great filmmaking. Here are some of the key ones who will ensure that Dunkirk becomes an early awards contender.

Hans Zimmer

The great German-born composer is hugely prolific, having composed the scores for more than 150 movies. He won an Academy Award for Best Original Score for The Lion King back in 1995.

But none of his many creative collaborations have been as close as his working relationship with Nolan. Indeed, he's even described the director as the co-creator of his scores. They've worked together on the Dark Knight trilogy, Inception and Interstellar, creating some of the most memorable and influential soundtrack music in film history.

Just one example: that ominous deep brass foghorn sound you now hear on many an action/sci-fi trailer was created by Zimmer for Inception.

Nathan Crowley

Not a name that's likely to be known to anyone other than those who scan movie credits, production designer Nathan Crowley has been described by Nolan as "one of my closest and most inspiring creative collaborators".

His three Oscar nominations have all been for Nolan's films: The Prestige, The Dark Knight and Interstellar. Crowley gets involved at a very early stage in the creative process, playing a key role in the look of the films, from the Batmobile design in the Dark Knight trilogy to the stunning Tesseract in Interstellar.

He's been part of Dunkirk all the way from the earliest location scouting.

Cillian Murphy

With six credits to his name, the great Michael Caine holds the record Christopher Nolan's favourite actor, but Cillian Murphy isn't far behind with five. The versatile Peaky Blinders star with the piercing blue eyes was originally asked to audition for the role of Batman in the Dark Knight trilogy, but wound up playing villainous Scarecrow in all three films.

Suitably impressed, Nolan then cast him as Robert Fischer, in whose subconscious Leonardo DiCaprio's team go romping in Inception. Dunkirk provides Murphy with his biggest role in a Nolan movie to date as a solider who finds himself tossed overboard - only to be rescued by a fishing vessel on its way to France to assist in the evacuation.

Tom Hardy

Another of Nolan's favourite actors, Tom Hardy was cast as the forger Eames in Inception and underwent an extraordinary transformation when he bulked up to play Batman's terrifying nemesis Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.

Since then, of course, he's gone on to take the title role in George Miller's brilliant Mad Max: Fury Road.

Dunkirk is Hardy's third Christopher Nolan film. He's right in the middle of the heart-pounding aerial combat sequences as an RAF pilot.

Richard King

One of the things that becomes immediately apparent when you're watching any of Christopher Nolan's films on the big screen at Cineworld is the attention paid to sound design, fully immersing us in worlds both real and fantastical. That's down to sound designer Richard King, who won Academy Awards for his sound editing work on The Dark Knight and Inception.

He was also Oscar nominated for his work on Interstellar. Dunkirk presents him with a unique opportunity to place us in the heart of one of the most extraordinary events in British military history, experiencing it just as the brave participants did. 

Lee Smith

Dunkirk marks Nolan's sixth collaboration with Australian film editor Lee Smith, who was Oscar nominated for his work on The Dark Knight.

The director has frequently paid tribute to his editor's extraordinary skill in helping to convey some highly complex ideas - notably when it came to piecing together Inception's mind-boggling, multi-layered narrative.

roars into Cineworld on 21 July.

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