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Trivia / Band of Brothers

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Trivia page for the TV series Band of Brothers

In what seems to be a combination of Due to the Dead, The Dead Have Names, Never Speak Ill of the Dead, Shrine to the Fallen, and other remembrance tropes, cable networks show the series without any edits to or censorship of the graphic nature of war or the horrors of the concentration camps.

  • Ability over Appearance:
    • Damian Lewis said as much in an interview. He talked about going to the audition and how the actor in front of him looked so much like the real Dick Winters. He said he felt for sure that guy was going to get the part. For the record, the real Winters was blond and Lewis is redhead - and he received near universal critical acclaim. Malarkey received a similar Adaptation Dye-Job, being blonde in real life and played by redhead Scott Grimes.
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    • As noted under Dawson Casting below, a couple of the actors were notably different ages from their characters in real life. Liebgott was around thirty when the war ended, and Ross McCall was twenty four during filming. The reverse is the case for Buck Compton - where he was twenty three in real life and Neal McDonough was a full ten years older than him. Ditto for Bull Randleman, who was the same age as Compton and played by the thirty five year old Michael Cudlitz. It's widely agreed that all the casting choices were spot-on regardless.
    • Robin Laing (Babe Heffron) described this when talking about Frank John Hughes's performance as Guarnere. He said that normally he looked nothing like him, but was able to immediately become him by changing his attitude (and apparently extending his lower jaw a little). The age issue mentioned above also factors in: Hughes was thirty three playing Guarnere at twenty one.
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  • Actor-Inspired Element: Sort of. The directors of the episodes were told by Tom Hanks to listen to anything the actors said if they were relaying information from the real veterans. For example if they were scripted to appear in one place that the real veterans said they weren't there for, they'd go to the director and get themselves removed from the scene.
  • Actor-Shared Background:
    • Colonel Robert F. Sink's actor, Captain Dale Dye, is a retired US Marine who fought in the Vietnam War.
    • Ron Livingston is a Yale graduate just like his character, Captain Nixon.
    • A retroactively hilarious one. Ross McCall is not Jewish. Although his character Liebgott is Jewish on the show, he wasn't in real life.
    • By contrast David Schwimmer is Jewish, like Herbert Sobel.
    • Peter Youngblood Hills is part Cherokee, just like the real Shifty Powers. He was also from the same area of Virginia as the real Shifty.
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  • Approval of God: Stephen Ambrose, writer of the book, was not involved in production but was hugely impressed with the miniseries. The majority of veterans represented (or the families thereof) also applauded it. Many of the actors remained on good terms with the families of the veterans they portrayed.
  • Awesome, Dear Boy: Nearly all of the cast members jumped at the chance to play World War II veterans and they endured the gruelling ten day boot camp and (for the Americans) relocated to England for nine months - just to work with Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. Most of them list it as one of their favourite roles.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!:
    • Neal McDonough is frequently asked by fans to say "I'm Buck Compton baby" - something Buck never says during the miniseries. Neal himself says it during the Ron Livingston Video Diaries after returning from the hospital.
    • The "company of heroes" quote is sometimes wrongly attributed to Dick Winters. While he's the one who delivers it in the ending interviews, he's quoting his friend Mike Ranney. It's Ranney who had the conversation with his grandson, not Winters.
  • California Doubling: Most of the series was filmed in Hertfordshire, England, with production building a town used to portray Bastogne, Eindhoven, Landsburg and Carentan from scratch in an abandoned airfield. If you watch closely you can see some of the same buildings being used for multiple scenes in different towns. The scenes that took place in Austria and Berchtesgarten, Germany were filmed in Switzerland.
  • Cast the Expert:
    • Dale Dye is an actual retired military man who specializes in training actors for war movies.
    • Freddie Joe Farnsworth, one of Dye's cadre, made an appearance in the third episode on horseback. He says they needed someone who could both ride a horse and do an American accent, so they just asked him.
    • Lucie Jeanne is bilingual, speaking both English and French to Doc Roe in her episode.
  • Creator Breakdown:
    • Rick Warden (Harry Welsh) said he found the boot camp especially tough and gruelling that he nearly walked out.
    • Neal McDonough claims that he suffered it about three episodes in, when he realised the full extent of the project. He says that filming the seventh episode was almost too much for him. He says he hasn't re-watched the series because it's too emotional for him to deal with.
  • The Danza: Private James Miller is played by James McAvoy.
  • Dawson Casting:
    • Several early-twenties characters are played by actors in their early-to-mid thirties (e.g., Bull Randleman, Blithe, Buck Compton, John Martin, Guarnere). Col. Sink, in his late thirties, is played by Dale Dye in his late fifties. Most of the actors are older than their historical counterparts, many of whom turned twenty in 1942. The Dawson Casting even induces a bit of a Tear Jerker because some of the actors were older than the characters they played were when they died. It's also worth pointing out that war does age a person rather strongly.
    • Inverted for Liebgott. Historically, he is supposed to be older than most of the others in Easy Company (he was thirty-two by the time he was discharged at the end of the war), but Ross McCall (twenty-four during filming) was one of the younger actors on set. Also inverted for Philip Barantini (Skinny) who was seventeen playing a twenty-one-year-old. Matt Hickey (O'Keefe) was only sixteen too.
  • Dyeing for Your Art:
    • Fifty of the main cast members endured a ten day boot camp to prepare them for their roles. During this time they had to refer to each other by their character names, as well as proper rank. For the non-American actors, they had to speak in American accents and slang words (and were punished for not doing so).
    • Shane Taylor was also expected to act as a medic during the boot camp. While it was going on, Neal McDonagh's weapon went off and a shard of it cut his chin. He went to Taylor, expecting him to patch it up since he was playing the medic.
    • Frank John Hughes had just gained fifty-eight pounds in preparation for a film that was postponed. So he had two months to lose all the weight and get in shape. He was told afterwards by a doctor that he had done serious damage to his adrenal system.
  • Enforced Method Acting:
    • Nearly every actor who played one of the Toccoa mennote  participated in a two-week boot camp where they underwent realistic military and paratrooper training.
    • David Schwimmer was isolated from most of the other cast members during boot camp, to help generate a feeling of resentment among the men. Schwimmer joked that his only friend on set was Simon Pegg - who played Sobel's right hand man Evans. Capt Dale Dye also gave him preferential treatment - such as allowing him to go to a hospital when he was injured - to drum up even more resentment among the men.note 
    • Marc Warren did not participate in the boot camp in order to emphasize the isolation and reluctance to fight Blithe feels in episode three.
    • Because Webster wasn't in episodes six and seven, Eion Bailey went on vacation to India while the rest of the cast was filming. The cast members used the jealousy and resentment they felt towards him when he came back to channel their characters' feelings towards Webster in episode eight.
    • The actors playing the replacements didn't participate in the boot camp and were ostracized a little by the main actors to drum up the feelings of separation. The exception was Robin Laing who said that, once Frank John Hughes found out he was playing Babe Heffron, he took him under his wing and made friends with him - just as Guarnere had done to the real Babe. Matt Hickey (O'Keefe) additionally said that James Madio (Perconte) took him under his wing for his brief time on the show, which is reflected in Perconte's Tsundere relationship with O'Keefe.
    • No one had seen the concentration camp set before they were to film there, and the reactions of most of the cast are genuine. Ross McCall said there were talks of bringing the actors to a camp to prepare them for the scene - but they ultimately decided not to, for the sake of this trope.
  • Fake American: The list of British actors playing American characters includes: Damian Lewis (Winters), Ross McCall (Liebgott), Shane Taylor (Doc Roe), Dexter Fletcher (Martin), Marc Warren (Blithe), Matthew Leitch (Talbert), Rick Warden (Welsh), Robin Laing (Heffron), Stephen McCole (Heyliger), Tim Matthews (Penkala), Craig Heaney (Cobb), Tom Hardy (Janovec), James McAvoy (Miller), Simon Pegg (Evans), Andrew Lee Potts (Jackson) and a good few others - as this was filmed primarily in England. Non-Brits included Michael Fassbender (German-Irish) as Christensen, Andrew Scott (Irish) as Hall and Peter O'Meara (Irish) as Dike. Peter Youngblood Hills (Shifty Powers) is a complicated case because he was born in South Africa to an American mother and British father and grew up in both countries, but primarily Britain. In fact, it's actually easier to list the actors that aren't this trope. If you're curious 
  • Fan Community Nickname: The female fans call themselves the Band of Sisters.
  • I Am Not Spock: The actors commented that after the series aired, numerous people (including actual war vets) would salute them in public. Shane Taylor in particular is still affectionately called 'Doc' by fans. Amusingly enough, all cast members had to call each other by their character names during boot camp and filming - something it took them a few years to shake off (Richard Speight Jr. mentioned in an interview that he still has trouble not calling Peter Youngblood Hills "Shifty").
  • Irony as She Is Cast / Casting Gag:
    • Michael Fassbender has a small role as a soldier who can't speak German when in real life he's half-German and fluent in the language.
    • Peter O'Meara says he was a huge military fan and idolised many war movies growing up. Highly ironic that he then played the officer who was incompetent in combat.
  • Life Imitates Art: The cast members became just as close to each other during filming as the real Easy Company did during the war. They even hold a reunion every year just like the real men did.
  • Meta Casting: Lt Henry Jones was a West Point graduate appointed an officer in Easy Company with no field experience, late in the war. He's played by Colin Hanks, son of one of the producers. Initially disliked for accusations of nepotism, he was Rescued from the Scrappy Heap and proved He Really Can Act - just like how Jones earned the respect of the men.
  • Method Acting:
    • Frank John Hughes was rather infamous for it. Robin Lang stated that as soon as he found out he was playing Babe Heffron, he took him under his wing just as Guarnere had done for the real Babe. Mark Huberman (Les Hashey) joked that when the real Guarnere visited the set, he asked him what he thought of the real Hashey. And that when Guarnere replied that he didn't like him, Hughes did not speak to him again for the rest of production (though he claims Hughes did assure him it was for the sake of method acting). He even carved 'Fran' into his weapon because that had been the name of Guarnere's wife.
    • Michael Cudlitz chewed tobacco whenever Bull Randleman did on screen.
  • Playing with Character Type: Captain Sobel is essentially Ross Geller's negative personality traits (pettiness, refusal to take responsibility for his actions, being a Know-Nothing Know-It-All) taken Up to Eleven with none of his positive traits.
  • Referenced by...: For X-Men: First Class, the second chapter of the "Children of the Atom" documentary on the Blu-Ray/DVD release is called "Band of Brothers" because of Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy.
  • Separated-at-Birth Casting: This was the intent of producers, casting most of the men based on their resemblances to their real-life counterparts. It's especially evident with Matthew Settle (Speirs), Frank John Hughes (Guarnere), Donnie Wahlberg (Lipton), Rick Gomez (Luz), Ross McCall (Liebgott) and Shane Taylor (Doc Roe).
    • Don Malarkey wrote in his memoir that when he met the cast, he bonded immediately with Richard Speight Jr., who played Malarkey's close friend Warren "Skip" Muck, because Speight's physical, vocal, and personal resemblance to the real Skip Muck was downright uncanny.
  • Star-Making Role:
  • Unintentional Period Piece: An odd example since it is a period piece. But the interview segments date it to 2001. For example in the first episode, one of the real veterans tries to rationalise why so many people enlisted voluntarily - saying "our country was attacked". The September 11th attacks happened two days after the episode premiered. The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue speaks about the men who were still alive at the time of filming but have since passed on. What's more is that there are a few historical mistakes that come from testimony among the men - such as Joe Liebgott being Jewish (he was Catholic in real life) and Albert Blithe dying in 1948 (he lived until 1967) - which shows the miniseries was made in a pre-internet age when information like that would be harder to find.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The script called for Lipton to be cold and hostile to Lt Jones when he first arrives. Donnie Wahlberg recalls going over the scene with the real Lipton, who said he actually got on very well with Jones in real life - and thus he adjusted the way he said his lines.
    • Malarkey was in the script to go on the eponymous "The Last Patrol" but the real one insisted that he wasn't on it.
    • The actors all read for many different parts and did a mix and match audition to see who they would play. For example Matthew Settle auditioned for Nixon, James Madio auditioned for Guarnere, Donnie Wahlberg auditioned for Speirs, Richard Speight Jr auditioned for Malarkey etc.
    • James Madio intended for Perconte's "Reason You Suck" Speech to O'Keefe to involve him physically attacking the young private. He said that the change was absolutely for the better.
    • Originally, the casting for Major Winters was restricted to Americans only. When a suitable actor couldn't be found, they opened up the casting to actors of all national origins and Damian Lewis won the role. Mark Wahlberg was among the American actors who were considered for the part.


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