Jack O’Connell was one of three young actors who had recently tested for the role of the young Louis Zamperini in Unbroken, the Angelina Jolie-directed biopic that Universal has just dated for Christmas 2014. O’Connell has won the part and will play Zamperini from the time he was a wunderkind member of the USA track team that competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics to his survival of a harrowing plane crash in the Pacific Ocean during WWII through 47 days adrift in a life raft to becoming a POW in a Japanese prison camp. The film is based on the New York Times bestseller Unbroken: A World War II Story Of Survival, Resilience, And Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand, and production is set to start in September. O’Connell is starring in the sequel 300: Rise Of An Empire that is due out next March, and his credits include This Is England, Eden Lake, Harry Brown and TV’s Skins. He is repped by CAA in the U.S. and Conway van Gelder Grant in the UK.

Related: Angelina Jolie To Direct ‘Unbroken’