James Madio is an actor while the late Frank Perconte was a WWII veteran…they had nothing in common or so it seemed.
For when James was chosen to portray Perconte in the 2001 HBO TV miniseries Band of Brothers, the two had formed a strong friendship that went beyond their professions – a bond as close as brothers.
Their friendship started when Perconte gave Madio background information about the Easy Company, the band of soldiers portrayed in the miniseries he starred in 12 years ago. The Easy Company was an airborne unit during the Second World War that went parachuting in France on D-Day and the next was capturing the Eagle’s Nest which served as Hitler’s second government seat.
“I’ve got myself a real-live hero for a friend,” said the then 25-year-old Madio pertaining to Perconte who was 85 years old at that time.
The two talked occasionally while in a screening of the 10-part, $120-million miniseries which first premiered on September 9, 2001. The screening which happened in July 2, 2001 included an exciting, full-length second episode and was held in the Chicago Center for the Performing Arts.
Perconte pointed out to the actor some undertones of a scene which showed what happened after the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, the parent unit of Easy Company, landed onto French soil via parachute then pointed again at Friends David Schwimmer who was cast in the miniseries as a commanding officer Perconte said he and his comrades despised. Afterwards, he smiled at Madio when the actor entered one scene.
Madio thought Band of Brothers, with Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks as executive producers, would enlighten those who may have no inkling about the Easy Company and the important role it played in WWII and believed that after seeing the series, viewers would never forget the company’s war exploits.
“Everybody truly needs to understand what these men have done,” he said.
Perconte agreed with him on that but looked unaffected by the recreated combat scenes though he was clearly impressed with the footage.
“At this age, I don’t get goosebumps,” the WWII vet claimed.
– As reported by Chicago Tribune News, original printing was in July 7, 2001