“Where have I seen that actor before?”
We’ve all said this when we’ve been watching a movie or a TV show, probably to the annoyance of whoever we’re watching with and usually with one hand on our phone, ready to open up IMDb. With a dizzying number of speaking roles, Band of Brothers will have you reaching for IMDb more than any other show, as it features a huge number of actors who went on to become TV regulars, and there are also a surprising number of megastars lurking in the ranks of Easy Company.
Band of Brothers might be about to celebrate its 16th birthday, but it is a series that people are still discovering for the first time, which is easy to do, considering it is constantly rerun on TV – I can guarantee that there is a TV channel somewhere repeating it right now. It’s still ranked second on IMDb’s list of all-time highest rated TV shows, but if that doesn’t persuade you to watch it, maybe some of these familiar faces will lure you in instead.
The “Where Have I Seen Him Before?” Section:
Stephen Graham only appears in two episodes, as Myron “Mike” Ranney. He doesn’t get a lot of screen-time, but he was obviously memorable enough for HBO to cast him as the banjo-playing psychopath gangster, Al Capone, in Boardwalk Empire. He is probably best known for his portrayal of Combo in the This is England movie and TV series.
This is another blink-and-you’ll-miss-him appearance, as Dominic Cooper, AKA Marvel’s Howard Stark, only appears fleetingly in the first episode, Currahee. He’s in shot for mere seconds, holding a tray of food in the mess hall.
Andrew Scott turns up very briefly to get lost in a forest on D-Day, which is something you can’t really imagine Moriarty from Sherlock doing. A good proportion of his scenes are in almost total darkness, so you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled.
Apart from being Tom Hanks’ son, Colin Hanks is probably best known for playing Gus Grimly in the TV series Fargo. He appears in two episodes of Band of Brothers, so he gets a lot more screentime than his famous father, who can be glimpsed for about a millisecond in a group scene in the Crossroads episode.
As The Walking Dead’s Abraham, Michael Cudlitz was far more brash and imposing than as Denver “Bull” Randleman, one of the best respected Easy Company soldiers, fond of large cigars and giving withering looks.
Despite playing one of Easy’s most popular Lieutenants, Buck Compton, Neal McDonough seems to have gone on to play a succession of bad guys, in shows such as Desperate Housewives, Arrow/Legends of Tomorrow and Justified, where there were numerous references to him looking like an “albino husky”.
Richard Speight Jr.
Supernatural fans will recognise amiable joker, Warren “Skip” Muck, played by Richard Speight Jr., as he played the recurring character of The Trickster/Gabriel.
Fans of Once Upon a Time will know Eion Bailey as August, and I’ll leave the character description there, as frankly I find Once Upon a Time’s plot baffling. In Band of Brothers he’s the sensitive writer David Webster, and can be recognised by his piercing blue eyes and inability to close his mouth.
And now for the “I Didn’t Realise He Was in This!” section:
Probably more famous for being one fifth of New Kids on the Block and the brother of Mark Wahlberg, Donnie Wahlberg is incredibly likeable as the calm and soft-spoken Carwood Lipton.
Somewhat inexplicably, Jimmy Fallon arrives by jeep at the end of Crossroads, delivers some ammo and a couple of lines of dialogue, then drives off into the night, never to be seen again.
That’s right, Ross from Friends is in Band of Brothers. David Schwimmer is impressive and deeply unlikeable as Captain Sobel, Easy Company’s hated first Commanding Officer.
In a bit of rather improbable casting, Simon Pegg appears as Captain Sobel’s trusty little sidekick. You might be thankful he only has two lines when you hear his rather questionable American accent.
Baby-faced James McAvoy only appears briefly in one episode. He’s in it just long enough for you to say, “Oh, that’s James McAvoy,” and then he’s gone.
Fisher Price My First Fassbender appears in seven episodes, but you’d be forgiven for not spotting Mini-Magneto, as he doesn’t really get a whole lot to do.
Tom Hardy is barely recognisable as a young, skinny John Janovec. He gets his clothes off, if you want to appreciate Tom Hardy in all his pre-buff glory.