Band of Brothers was a TV landmark. Made in the days before movie quality, writer-led drama really took hold of the airwaves, it stood out as a must watch event.
In 2001 – 3 years after their brutal and emotionally-charged epic Saving Private Ryan – Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks decided to re-team, producing a saga about the young men who put everything on the line to fight the Nazi menace.
Based on the book by historian Stephen E. Ambrose, it was part-produced by Spielberg’s Dreamworks and shown on HBO.
As befitting a multi-million dollar production and A List pedigree, the cast was dazzling.
Made up of relatively unknown stars-to-be, such as Damian Lewis (Homeland) and household names like David Schwimmer (Friends), these performers conveyed what the brave individuals of “Easy Company” went through in service of their country and the world.
In fact there are so many names involved, it’s easy to overlook the sheer quality of the acting talent on display. Here are 6 actors you probably didn’t know were in Band of Brothers…
Featuring in the episode Day of Days as paratrooper Pvt. John “Cowboy” Hall was future screen villain Andrew Scott. Here he was fighting for the good guys.
Almost a decade later he terrified audiences as Moriarty in the modern day Sherlock. 007’s producers must have seen this and taken notice, as he was then cast as the oily Max Denbigh (aka “C”) in 2015’s Spectre.
Most recently he’s been warming, and indeed breaking, hearts as Fleabag’s “hot priest” opposite new Bond writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
His latest big screen role sees him returning to the battlefield in Sam Mendes’ First World War drama 1917.
5. James McAvoy
A young James McAvoy played James W. Miller in the episode Replacements. The versatile actor went on to Hollywood, and is best known as Prof. Xavier in the X-Men franchise.
He’s portrayed the mutant leader for almost a decade, relinquishing the role in this year’s Dark Phoenix. McAvoy has a string of other credits to his name, such as It: Chapter Two.
Currently he can be seen on the small screen as Lord Asriel in His Dark Materials. Not only is it produced by Band of Brothers’ distributor HBO, it also features Andrew Scott. Like McAvoy he plays an explorer looking into parallel worlds.
Burton ‘Pat’ Christenson was the TV debut role of a youthful Michael Fassbender. Band of Brothers had 10 episodes, with Fassbender appearing in 7 of them.
He went on to develop a career as a bold actor, taking on other real life roles such as Bobby Sands in Hunger (2008) and Steve Jobs in the 2015 movie of the same name.
He joined McAvoy as Prof Xavier’s friend/nemesis Magneto in X-Men. Magneto also bore the scars of war, pursuing a vendetta against his Nazi captor. He also entered the Alien franchise as android David in prequels Prometheus (2012) and Covenant (2017).
Before facing off against Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in The Irishman, Stephen Graham appeared as Sgt. Myron “Mike” Ranney in the first 2 episodes, Currahee and Day of Days.
Graham is a powerful presence who has given his talent to larger than life gangster roles, such as Al Capone in Boardwalk Empire (2010 – 14) and Baby Face Nelson in the 2009 Johnny Depp movie Public Enemies.
He also accompanied Depp on some exciting voyages for 2 Pirates of the Caribbean films – 2011’s On Stranger Tides and 2017’s Dead Men Tell No Tales (Salazar’s Revenge).
One of the UK’s most intense and beloved actors is Tom Hardy. His big break TV-wise was in the episode Why We Fight. Hardy played Pvt. John Janovec, who made a memorable entrance minus his uniform!
He went on to work with visionary directors like Christopher Nolan, with whom he has made 3 movies. The most recent of these was 2017’s World War II epic Dunkirk, which saw Hardy take to the skies.
As with many of his Band of Brothers castmates, Hardy has been involved with comic book franchises. He portrayed Batman villain Bane in 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises and last year Marvel hired him as the tortured title character in Venom.
OK we know who he was before Band of Brothers and while his name is known behind the scenes on series, Tom Hanks also put himself in the picture. He appeared in a couple of cameos, that of a British and French officer. Hanks also directed the episode Crossroads and co-wrote opening instalment Currahee.
His body of work with Spielberg has become the stuff of legend. After Band of Brothers he starred in the director’s Catch Me If You Can (2002), The Terminal (2004), Bridge of Spies (2015) and The Post (2017).
He’ll be back on the big screen next year in Greyhound, another World War II story. Hanks has adapted the screenplay from C.S. Forester’s The Good Shepherd. The cast features none other than former Band of Brothers player Stephen Graham!
Honorable mentions on the cast list include Simon Pegg, Jimmy Fallon, Dominic Cooper (Preacher) and Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica).
Another Article From Us: Three of The Last WWII Screaming Eagles
Band of Brothers was not only a fitting tribute to the military effort, it also brought some of the world’s best actors to public attention.