Most cinema-goers will already be familiar with the story of the World War II evacuation but speaking to HuffPost UK, Mark highlighted the fact there’s still much to be learnt from what took place on the channel.
The actor plays a civilian who sails his boat to France to help with the rescue effort and described this strand of the plot as “an example of very humble, insignificant people making a difference when they all join in and contribute”.
He told us: “I think that in today’s world you can feel that your vote, your life, doesn’t make any difference - that the government and the big corporations have got it sealed up. Or that there’s not much point getting involved.
“Even one man in his canoe goes over because he has a seat behind him and if all of those civilians hadn’t made that effort then we wouldn’t have had an army to defend ourselves in the Second World War against fascism.”
His co-star Barry Keoghan, who plays George, added that film “is going to educate as well”.
“I like that it’s PG13 [rating, 12A in the UK], they’re [young audiences] going to go away and maybe look up Dunkirk and and hopefully appreciate the bravery and courage, the legends,” he said.
“I kind of knew of the event but I wasn’t taught about it at school or anything. Chris [Nolan] did give me a book at the start but I wanted to stay naive to it.”
Together with Tom Glynn-Carney, Mark and Barry both spent a lot of their time filming scenes on an artificial lake in the Netherlands and thanks to the heat, it seems they got to know Barry rather well.
The Irish actor said: “It was very hot, y’know. I took all my clothes off one day, straight down.”
“That’s why we needed a 70mm camera,” joked Mark, before revealing what drew him to the project.
“I didn’t know the cast, I would have been drawn to the cast,” he said. “I just knew Chris and Chris’s work and I had seen his films and thought they were really imaginative and skilful and that’s what drew me to it.
“I’ve also always been fascinated by the Second World War and films like ‘Battle Of Britain’.
“And this character and the storyline of this character was just an honour to be connected with those brave people who did these things so that all felt very good.”
‘Dunkirk’ arrives in UK cinemas on Friday 21 July.