If you go see the Oscar-nominated 1917, yes, you will find a few marquee-level names in the cast, like Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch. The movie’s two main characters, however, are played by actors who weren’t exactly household names: Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay. While the two leads have been working steadily in primarily British productions, neither has had a real breakout role — until now. And that’s exactly why director Sam Mendes says he hired them for the film. (Click on the media bar below to hear Sam Mendes)

1917 is playing now in theaters.

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