Harry Styles mania is reaching a fever pitch this year. In addition to his well-reviewed new album and its inescapable single, the former One Direction member is out to prove he’s more than just a global pop star. With two high profile films on the way, Styles might just be a capital-A Actor, too.
In September, he’ll star opposite Florence Pugh in the Stepford-esque psychological thriller, Don’t Worry Darling, directed by his A-list partner, Olivia Wilde. And just a few short weeks later, My Policeman will debut, a handsome British romance from filmmaker Michael Grandage, also starring The Crown‘s Emma Corrin and Peaky Blinders‘ David Dawson.
For our purposes, My Policeman is at the top of our most-anticipated list because, as has been widely publicized, Styles will be playing a closeted gay man. And while we can speculate over just how “gay” he’ll get for the role, we’ll have to wait until the film’s release later this year to know for sure.
In the meantime, here’s everything we know about My Policeman so far…
It’s based on a novel based on a real-life person
The truth is, we actually know quite a bit about My Policeman already because its an adaptation of a 2012 novel of the same name from author Bethan Roberts. Set in Brighton—home to one of the UK’s most prominent LGBTQ communities—its story concerns itself with Tom (Styles), an English policeman in the 1950s who finds himself torn between two loves: There’s his girlfriend, Marion (Corrin), and Patrick (Dawson), a dashing museum curator who recently moved to town after the death of a lover.
Because of the time period—when homosexuality was illegal—Tom’s affair with Patrick is passionate but kept (mostly) secret. Marion is aware of the connection between the two men and, for a while, they find a way to make their ménage a trois work. That is, until jealousy and the strict social mores of the era threaten to tear them all apart. Things are further complicated by the ironic fact that Tom is an officer of the law, and he wrestles with the internal conflict between duty, responsibility, and a love he can’t contain. The novel juggles both Marion and Patrick’s narration, switching between their internal confessions as the story unfolds.
Back in 2012, Roberts revealed her story was inspired by the life of A Room With A View novelist E.M. Forster, who was in a relationship with policeman Bob Buckingham and was friendly with Bob’s wife, May. As she wrote in The Guardian, this love triangle was “a quite wonderful muddle,” and it provided rich territory to explore love and loss in her sweeping third novel.
It will have dual timelines
Though we have yet to see this in either the early first-look images or teaser trailer, My Policeman will reportedly follow its three central characters in two different decades, just like the novel. In addition to the ’50s, the story also jumps ahead to the 1990s, when a “frail” Patrick re-enters the lives of a now-married Tom and Marion, reigniting old flames and digging up past drama, which will have a deep impact on the characters who had long repressed this sensitive time in their lives.
Thankfully sparing us from awkward old-age makeup, the film has cast three actors to depict our leads later in life. Playing the grown-up version of Styles’ Tom is British actor Linus Roach, perhaps best known stateside as Executive ADA Michael Cutter in the NBC legal drama Law & Order and its Special Victims Unit spin-off. Gina McKee will feature as Marion, a prolific character actor seen in films like Phantom Thread, Notting Hill, and—another decades-spanning romance—Atonement. And the older, frailer Patrick will be played by Rupert Everett, the gay actor with memorable turns in Another Country and My Best Friend’s Wedding.
There’s no “peen,” but there will be “bum bum”
Earlier this year, Styles sent anticipation for the film into overdrive when he confirmed on The Howard Stern Show that he would appear nude in the film—though not completely. “I was naked in My Policeman,” he revealed. “There’s no peen in the final cut. There’s bum bum… I don’t think the peen was intended to be involved.”
We have to laugh at his choice of words there, but we’ll chalk it up to the star wanting to be the upstanding British gent that he is. As it turns out, the lack of “peen” was very intentional, something Styles pre-negotiated when signing on to the movie. “That would remain my own,” he quipped. Bummer!
Still, fans will be delighted to know that both My Policeman and Don’t Worry Darling will feature Styles’ first-ever sex scenes—and his first on-screen kisses. As the actor told Stern, “It does feel vulnerable. I’d never kissed anyone on camera before and it felt like giving a part of myself away in some ways.” Styles added that the most important thing about filming intimate scenes, whether with a man or a woman or whoever, is trust. “It’s like, ‘It doesn’t matter if they’re getting great stuff, if you don’t feel good, you tell me and we’ll stop.’”
It will feature “sculptural” gay sex scenes
So, if we’re getting “bum bum” and no “peen,” you might be wondering what sort of sex scenes to expect in My Policeman. Well, as it turns out, the film’s director has given us a pretty thorough understanding of what we’ll be ogling. In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Grandage promised he would bring an artful eye to lovemaking, saying it would be, “in the broadest sense of the word, something that was choreographically interesting and not just some kind of thrusting sense of sex going on.”
Look, we’re all for thrusting, but color us intrigued! Grandage went on to cite a specific visual inspiration that provides a better sense of what’s to come, the “very sculptural” opening sequence of Alain Resnais’ 1959 film, Hiroshima Mon Amour. Check the sequence out for yourself below:
For Grandage, these scenes should have a deeper resonance beyond titillation—its in these intimate moments that Styles’ Tom and Dawson’s Patrick are able to tap into a sense of liberation: “These two men, when they’re together, seem to be free,” the filmmaker added. “And then when he has to have an act of lovemaking, or a sexual act, with his wife he seems to not have that freedom, just even in his body language.”
It’s coming to theaters—and Amazon Prime Video—this fall
In the age of streaming, you never really know where titles are going to pop up. But Amazon Studios recently confirmed two important release dates for My Policeman, which should satisfy avid theatergoers as well as folks would rather experience Harry Styles going gay in private—or, at least from the comfort of their own home.
On October 21, the film will open in select theaters, and begin a gradual theatrical rollout from there. And then, if you can bear to wait, it will begin streaming a mere two weeks later, debuting exclusively on Prime Video on November 4.
Those are some pretty plumb dates, which many Oscar prognosticators will note are right in the middle of the fall movie season when many awards-hopeful films debut. Could the studio be mounting an Academy Award campaign for Styles and the rest of My Policeman‘s cast and crew? That’s yet to be seen, but the buzz official starts here.
More details—and potentially another trailer—for My Policeman are yet to come. You can watch its initial teaser below, over and over, to your Harry Styles-stanning heart’s content.