If you haven’t seen Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg’s love letters to the Greatest Generation, Band of Brothers and The Pacific, ignore all other recommended series, stop whatever you are doing, and locate them. Now. They represent 20 of the best hours of television of the 21st century (especially Band of Brothers), and they are entertaining, intense, heartbreaking, and important.
On Friday, HBO confirmed that it would be making a third World Wart II mini-series with Hanks and Spielberg, which will explore the aerial wars through the eyes of enlisted men of the Eighth Air Force — known as the men of the Mighty Eighth. I cannot tell you how excited that makes me.
The only problem, however, many of us had with both Band of Brothers and especially The Pacific was that it was so difficult to tell the actors apart: White, twenty-something men with buzzcuts are hard to tell apart. It’s ironic, now, since so many of the people who were introduced to a wider audience in those mini-series are now recognizably famous. Band of Brothers was kind of like the Dazed and Confused of the television world: A breeding ground for future movie and television stars. Let’s take a look back at 13 actors who gained their first notable, widespread exposure through Band of Brothers and The Pacific.
1. James Badge Dale (The Pacific) — He later showed up as the lead in AMC’s “Rubicon,” in The Grey and Flight, and has been cast in The Lone Ranger and Iron Man 3.
2. Joseph Mazzello (The Pacific) — Now we know him as Billy St. Cyr, the creepy evangelical tent preacher in this season of Justified, and he’s also to star as Mouse in G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
3. Ashton Holmes (The Pacific) — He’s now that little sh*t, Tyler, in Revenge
4. Jacob PittsThe Pacific) — Also another cast member on Justified, Pitts plays U.S. Marshall Tim Gutterson.
5. Jon Bernthal (The Pacific) — Like most on this list, he’d been around some before, but it wasn’t until after The Pacific that he picked up a recognizable role as Shane in The Walking Dead and he’s also set to play the lead in Frank Darabount’s new series, L.A. Noir.
6. Damian Lewis (Band of Brothers — We now know him from Homeland, of course, but he was also in the brilliant but short-lived Life.
7. Michael Cudlitz (Band of Brothers) — Cudlitz had been around for years before Band of Brothers, but the HBO mini-series was his first high-profile gig. We now know him from the brilliant Southland.
8. Michael Fassbender (Band of Brothers) — Now we know him from Prometheus, X-Men: First Class, Hunger, Haywire and Inglorious Basterds. We even know his penis from Shame.
9. Kirk Acevedo (Band of Brothers) — He was Charlie in Fringe, plus he was in the short-lived but decent Prime Suspect and the likewise short-lived but not very good Black Donnellys.
10. Jamie Bamber (Band of Brothers — Of course, now we know him from Battlestar Gallactica, and the Brits probably know him from Law & Order: UK.
11. Tom Hardy (Band of Brothers) — He was only in two episodes, but it was his first professional work, and now he’s likely the most famous from both mini-series, thanks to roles in Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Warrior, Lawless, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
12. Rick Gomez (Band of Brothers) — You’ll see this guy pop up in a lot of places (including six episodes of Justified), and my first thought is always: Why did they squish Sam Rockwell. You may also know him from Apparition, What About Brian?, or the short-lived Cupid reboot television series.
13. Jason O’Mara (Band of Brothers) — Popular in the UK before Band of Brothers, O’Mara has gained more fame over here following Band of Brothers in a series of television shows that never lasted long, like Vegas, Life on Mars, Terra Nova, and The Agency.
14. Late Addition: James McAvoy (Band of Brothers) — I totally forgot that McAvoy was in one episode; he of course went on to be a superfamous Hollywood actor in movies like X-Men: First Class and Wanted (Hate Tip: saucemaster