Skins’ Jack O’Connell takes the lead in Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken

The 22-year-old British actor will star as Lou Zamperini in Jolie's World War II film

Jack O’Connell is set to swap the drug-fueled house parties of Skins for a WW2 war zone in Angelina Jolie’s new film Unbroken.

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Unbroken – which will be the second feature film Jolie has directed, following her 2011 film In the Land of Blood and Honey – is based on Laura Hillenbrand’s book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.

The film follows the true story of Lou Zamperini (O’Connell), a young man from Los Angeles who raced in the 1936 Berlin Olympics seven years before his fighter plane crashed into the Pacific. After the crash, Zamperini survived for 47 days without food or water and even endured shark attacks before he washed up behind enemy lines and held prisoner for two years.

This won’t be the first time O’Connell, who first rose to fame as Cooke in E4’s boundary-breaking teen drama Skins, has donned a soldier’s uniform. The 22-year-old Brit played Charlie Peaceful in the big screen adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s children’s story Private Peaceful.

As well as reprising his role as Cooke in the seventh and final series of Skins, O’Connell is set to appear in Starred Up and 300: Rise of an Empire.

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Unbroken is set for a Christmas 2014 release.