Harry Styles is the cover star of Rolling Stone UK’s seventh issue, and spoke in his cover interview about his lead role in the forthcoming film My Policeman.
The singer and actor will portray the younger version of gay police officer Tom Burgess in the Michael Grandage-directed movie, which is based on Bethan Roberts’ 2012 novel of the same name.
The plot centres on a love triangle between Styles’ character, the woman he ends up marrying, Marion (Emma Corrin), and the man he shared a secret relationship with, Patrick.
It’s set in the 1990s and follows what happens when Patrick – who’s now an elderly man – arrives at Tom and his wife door, kickstarting “an exploration of seismic events from 40 years previous”. At the time of the pair’s romance in the 1950s, it was still illegal to be in a same-sex relationship in the UK.
Speaking to Rolling Stone UK, Styles explained: “It’s obviously pretty unfathomable now to think, ‘Oh, you couldn’t be gay. That was illegal.
“I think everyone, including myself, has your own journey with figuring out sexuality and getting more comfortable with it. It’s not like, ‘This is a gay story about these guys being gay.’ It’s about love and about wasted time to me.”
Within weeks, Styles went from the set of the upcoming Don’t Worry Darling – an Olivia Wilde-directed psychological thriller, which sees him star opposite Florence Pugh – to shooting the more intimate My Policeman.
Styles had read the script for the latter film the year prior, and was moved by the story enough to have contacted director Grandage and request a meeting. He then showed up with every line memorised.
Recalling the experience of shooting Don’t Worry Darling, Styles – who plays Jack Chambers – admitted that he felt anxious about taking on such a large part alongside actors like Pugh, Chris Pine, Gemma Chan and Nick Kroll.
“In music, there’s such an immediate response to what you do. You finish a song and people clap,” he said. “When you’re filming and they say ‘Cut,’ there’s maybe part of you that expects everyone to start clapping, [but] they don’t. Everyone, obviously, goes back to doing their jobs, and you’re like, ‘Oh, shit, was it that bad?’”
Styles went on to tell Rolling Stone UK that being an actor reminded him of how session musicians work. “You get called in to do your bit, and then someone else puts it all together and makes it,” he explained.
Wilde, meanwhile, spoke of one moment in the film that “left us all in tears” – Jack’s promotion scene during a big company gala. “It’s a strange scene, full of fascist references, and a disturbing amount of male rage,” she told Rolling Stone UK.
“The scene called for [Styles] to stand onstage with Frank (Chris Pine) and chant their creepy slogan, ‘Whose world is it? Ours!’ over and over again. Dark as hell. But Harry took it to another level. He was so fully in the moment, he began screaming the lines to the crowd, in this primal roar, that was way more intense than anything we expected from the scene.”
According to Wilde, Pine backed away, understanding this was Harry’s moment: “The camera operator followed him as he paced around the stage like a kind of wild animal,” Wilde remembers. “We were all gobsmacked at the monitor. I think even Harry was surprised by it. Those are the best moments for an actor — when you’re completely outside your body.”
Styles said that he thought about going completely off the grid while shooting Don’t Worry Darling in Los Angeles and Palm Springs between September 2020 and February 2021. “The reality is you get there on the first day and wait around for 75 per cent of it,” he remembered. “And it’s like, ‘Actually, I’m going to text my mate.’”
My Policeman is set to be released in US and UK cinemas on October 21, and will subsequently make a global debut on Amazon Prime Video on November 4. An official teaser trailer for the film arrived in June.
Don’t Worry Darling will arrive in UK cinemas on September 22 – check out the trailer here.
Taken from the October/November 2022 issue of Rolling Stone UK. Buy it online now. Available on UK newsstands from 24 August.