10 Massive Actors You Forgot Were In Band Of Brothers
When Band of Brothers first hit our screens 20 years ago, apart from a supporting role filled by David ‘Ross Geller‘ Schwimmer, the WWII series’ cast was comprised almost entirely of unknowns and promising young actors just starting out their careers.
Now, two decades later, we can see what a truly stellar cast Band of Brothers actually had. If you haven’t seen Steven Spielberg‘s epic HBO miniseries in a while, you’ll no doubt remember the headline players: Damian Lewis, in the lead role of Dick Winters, and Ron Livingston, as Winters’ right-hand man Lewis Nixon.
What you might not remember is that some of Hollywood’s biggest stars also got their break here, in cameos, bit-parts and glorified extra roles. Here are ten actors you forgot – or never even knew – were in Band of Brothers, and where they are now.
10. Dominic Cooper
Cooper played Allington in the first episode of Band of Brothers, an apparently intense filming experience the actor has since said almost convinced him to quit the industry.
9. James McAvoy
Before he won Hollywood fame, a 22-year-old James McAvoy appeared in Band of Brothers as new Easy Company recruit Private James Miller.
Featuring only in episode four of the show, Replacements, Miller is killed by a grenade in Nuenen during Operation Market Garden.
Today, McAvoy is the star of three world-famous blockbuster series: X-Men, M Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable series and It.
8. Tom Hardy
Like James McAvoy, Tom Hardy only appears in a single episode of Band of Brothers before his character (Private Janovec) buys the farm.
Hardy made his debut – and exit – in episode 9, Why We Fight, making his entrance butt naked as Janovec is discovered in a secret tryst with a German woman.
After only a handful of scenes, Hardy then disappears from the series after Janovec is killed off-screen in a car accident.
The then-24-year-old actor probably didn’t mind so much, though, when Band of Brothers constituted his first TV gig ever.
He still dabbles in television – having recently turned in a supporting role in Peaky Blinders, Hardy now also produces and stars in the TV drama Taboo.
7. Michael Fassbender
Then aged just 24, Michael Fassbender won his second ever acting gig in Band of Brothers. As machine gunner Burton ‘Pat’ Christenson, Fassbender would appear in seven episodes: Currahee, Crossroads, Bastogne, The Breaking Point, The Last Patrol, Why We Fight and Points.
Based on the real-life war hero who fought at Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge, Fassbender’s Christenson joins Easy Company as an inexperienced young soldier (he’s the one punished by Lieutenant Sobel for sneaking a sip of canteen water). Christenson survived the war to witness the horrors of a concentration camp.
Along with James McAvoy, Fassbender was one of the leads of the recent X-Men franchise, but he’s also acclaimed for his searing dramatic work in 12 Years A Slave and Steve Jobs, both of which saw him nominated for Oscars.
6. Simon Pegg
Although cult Channel 4 sitcom Spaced was airing at the time of Band of Brothers’ original 2001 run, Simon Pegg was yet to be anywhere near the star he is today.
At 31, Pegg adopted an American accent to play Sgt Evans, the lackey of David Schwimmer’s despotic Lt Sobel, for two episodes.
Today, Pegg is known for three different blockbuster franchises: Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy, Mission: Impossible and Star Trek, on the latter of which he’s acted as both actor and writer.
5. Jimmy Fallon
Jimmy Fallon cameos in episode five of Band of Brothers, Crossroads, as Lt George Rice, who drives a jeep loaded with ammunition to resupply Easy Company as they arrive in Bastogne. Fallon appears towards the end of the episode.
Fallon was a rising star on Saturday Night Live when he was chosen to play Rice. Now 46, Fallon hosts the Tonight Show – and it was on the show in 2018 that he recalled his experiences on the Band of Brothers set.
“That episode was directed by Tom Hanks, and I was so nervous,” Fallon remembered to guest Julianna Margulies. “I had to just drive a jeep and say my line, ‘Good luck, boys.’”
He struggled to get this authentic WWII vehicle in motion, noting: “There’s like 200 extras. So I drive, I hit my spot. I go, ‘Good luck, boys!’, and I forget to press the clutch, and these two dudes are pushing the car, and the wheels aren’t moving because the clutch isn’t in.”
“I don’t know how they made it work, but they made it work,” he laughed.
4. Jamie Bamber
Having started his TV career in Hornblower in 1998, Jamie Bamber was still a fresh-faced newcomer back in 2001.
That was the year Bamber took the role of Lt Foley in three episodes of Band of Brothers.
HBO’s WWII miniseries gave Bamber a vital career boost: following the show, the actor bagged one of the leads in the Battlestar Galactica reboot from 2003 to 2009. He can now be seen in ITV’s Marcella.
3. Andrew Scott
As greenhorn paratrooper Pvt ‘Cowboy’ Hall, 25-year-old Andrew Scott took the route of so many of the famous actors on this list.
Scott made a single-episode appearance in Band of Brothers, before disappearing from the story altogether.
Ten years later, Scott was playing the villain on global BBC phenomenon Sherlock. Now, seven years down the line from that, Scott is popping up everywhere as a major supporting star, from the last James Bond film to the BBC’s recent King Lear adaptation to the second season of Fleabag.
2. Stephen Graham
Already known to Guy Ritchie fans for taking second fiddle to Jason Statham in Snatch, Stephen Graham in 2001 upgraded to working with arguably the biggest director ever.
Graham appears in the first two episodes of Band of Brothers as Myron Ranney, part of the doomed mutiny against Lt Sobel and the battle at Brécourt Manor. Graham vanishes from the show after Day of Days, though in reality Ranney survived the war to become a journalist and organiser of Easy Company reunions. He died in 1988 of a heart attack.
Today, Graham’s a star of the crime genre and British indie cinema: he was Al Capone through five seasons of Boardwalk Empire and has most famously played This Is England’s reformed neo-Nazi, Combo, since 2007. Nowadays, Line of Duty and the TV drama Time have thrown Graham back into the spotlight, and he’ll play Detective Mulligan in 2021’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage.
1. Tom Hanks
As well as acting as an executive producer on Band of Brothers and directing episode five, Crossroads, Tom Hanks also cameos in Crossroads as an unnamed British officer. He’s one of the Red Devils seen toasting Easy Company after the Operation Pegasus rescue mission.
Already a critically acclaimed star before Band of Brothers, Hanks has since been lauded for his performances in the likes of Captain Phillips, Bridge of Spies and The Post.