Premiering on Sept. 9, 2001 (yes, two days before 9/11), World War II miniseries Band of Brothers is one of the most impressive shows in HBO‘s already-impressive TV canon. Based on historian Stephen E. Ambrose’s 1992 non-fiction book of the same name and produced by cinematic titans Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, Band of Brothers offers an unflinching look at the horrors of war and the American heroes of Easy Company that would endure them to help bring down the Third Reich.
The 10 episodes presented in the show’s sole season are pitch-perfect television and now they’re about to be made available to an even wider audience. Alongside its spiritual cousin The Pacific (which follows the Pacific Theater of WWII), Band of Brothers is available to stream on Netflix as of Sept. 15. This comes as part of a Warner Bros. initiative to expand the availability of some of its classic television titles. Previous HBO series syndicated for Netflix include Six Feet Under, Ballers, and Insecure.
There’s never been a better time to watch Band of Brothers than right now. Those going into the experience, however, may be intimidated by the show’s truly massive cast. Band of Brothers really does attempt to include as many real life Easy Company figures as possible, leading to a huge group of characters that stretch the show’s 10-episode runtime to its breaking limit. Not only that, but the show’s young American soldiers can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between, especially when they’re caked with identical mud, blood, and gunpowder.
With that in mind, we’ve created a Band of Brothers cast primer that should help you keep everything straight as you watch. Not only that but you should get some reminders of where you’ve seen all of these folks before. After all, Band of Brothers features the most “hey, I know that guy” moments of just about any TV show of the 21st century up to and including both Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and Professor X (James McAvoy).
Damian Lewis as Major Dick Winters
As an ensemble piece, Band of Brothers doesn’t have a “main character” per se. If it did, however, Major Richard “Dick” Winters (Damian Lewis) would undoubtedly be it. Dick features prominently in nearly every episode of the series as we track his rise through the military ranks on the ground in war-torn Europe. He also serves as the point of view character in four of the show’s 10 episodes. That level of prominence is fitting given the heroism of the real life Dick Winters. As recounted in interviews with actual WWII veterans that air throughout the miniseries, many attribute Winters’ grace under fire with getting them through the war safely.
Playing Winters is Damian Lewis, who would go on to become a major TV leading man. While best known for his starring roles as Nicholas Brody on Homeland and Bobby “Axe” Axelrod on Billions, Lewis has also earned acclaimed for playing Henry VIII in Wolf Hall and Steve McQueen in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. He was married to fellow British actor Helen McCrory, who tragically died of cancer in 2021.
Ron Livingston as Captain Lewis Nixon
From the very first episode of Band of Brothers, Dick Winters’ right hand man is consistently Captain Lewis Nixon, played by Ron Livingston. Nixon is a capable soldier and leader of men who, as the war progresses, develops an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Despite spending much of his time on the frontlines of combat, the real Lewis Nixon infamously never fired a shot throughout the war.
Ron Livingston should be a familiar face to most viewers through his prolific work on film and television. Best known for his starring role as the disillusioned office drone Peter in Office Space, Livingston has also popped up a diverse array of projects such as Sex and the City, Boardwalk Empire, A Million Little Things, and The Conjuring. Notably he recently played Henry Allen in The Flash.
David Schwimmer as Captain Herbert Sobel
As seen in Band of Brothers‘ first episode, Captain Herbert Sobel is a real piece of work. The concept of the “no-nonsense drill sergeant who toughens up his soldiers before the enemy can get to them” is a popular one in the American mythos and Sobel is the perfect archetype. While the men of Easy Company may object to his methods, it’s hard to argue he didn’t get them prepared for the horrors of war to come. Unfortunately, as the show depicts, the real life Sobel was far less effective in battle than he was on the training grounds.
Playing Sobel in Band of Brothers is Friends star David Schwimmer. And honestly, casting a guy who played a character everyone hates (go play with your dinosaur toys, Ross Gellar) to play a character who is also universally loathed is a pretty good bit. In recent years, Schwimmer has mostly done voice work in the Madagascar films and made the odd television appearance in things like 30 Rock, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, and Will & Grace.
Donnie Wahlberg as Second Lieutenant Carwood Lipton
Carwood Lipton is a tremendously capable lieutenant who is able to bridge the gap between the big plans of his superiors with the grim day-to-day reality of his men. Like Dick Winters, he was tremendously respected by his fellow soldiers. The real Carwood Lipton stuck with Easy Company all the way through to the end of the war.
Like his famous brother Mark, Donnie Wahlberg got his start as part of the late ’80s boy band New Kids on the Block. Also like his brother, he would soon reveal himself to be quite the effective actor. Best known for his role as Detective Eric Matthews in the Saw franchise, Wahlberg still turns up on a project or two while also co-owning his family’s burger chain Wahlburgers.
Michael Cudlitz as Staff Sergeant Denver “Bull” Randelman
As his nickname suggests, Denver “Bull” Randelman (Michael Cudlitz) is a big man (or at least big by the standard of the 1940s). He is the point of view character for episode 4 “Replacements” and is one of the more recognizable faces throughout the miniseries.
Playing Bull is Michael Cudlitz, who you likely best know for his role as Abraham Ford on The Walking Dead. He’s also provided his voice to many games in the Call of Duty series and had a starring role in cop drama Southland. Most recently he portrayed Lex Luthor in Superman & Lois.
Kirk Acevedo as Staff Sergeant Joe Toye
If you ever have a hard time identifying who Joe Toye (Kirk Acevedo) is when watching Band of Brothers, just remember he’s probably the guy getting wounded. The tough and tenacious Joe Toye set the Easy Company records with four Purple Hearts for injures sustained during the war.
Kirk Acevedo was one of the few actors who had an existing relationship with HBO prior to appearing in Band of Brothers, having been the star of prison drama Oz. Since then Acevedo has enjoyed roles in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Fringe, and 12 Monkeys. He also portrayed Ricardo Diaz a.k.a. The Dragon in Arrow.
Rick Gomez as Technician Fourth Grade George Luz
Despite its grim subject matter, Band of Brothers can be a pretty funny show. Much of that humor derives from the mind of George Luz. Beloved by his fellow soldiers for his sense of humor, Luz’s penchant for impressions helps keep things light amid the fog of war.
Before joining the cast of Band of Brothers, Rick Gomez was already well known to TV nerds due to his role as “Endless Mike” Hellstrom in Nickelodeon’s The Adventures of Pete & Pete. He’s been a consistent presence on television since then with prominent roles on Justified, The Crossing, and Silo.
Scott Grimes as Technical Sergeant Donald Malarkey
When trying to stand out in the enormous cast of characters in Band of Brothers, it certainly helps to have a name like “Malarkey.” Despite that surname, there is little whimsical about Donald Malarkey’s record of military service in WWII. The Oregon native was there through Easy Company’s entire campaign across Europe.
Scott Grimes has been acting since the age of 13 and is now probably best known for his comedic collaborations with Seth MacFarlane, having starred in American Dad!, Family Guy, The Orville, and the upcoming TV adaptation of Ted. He was also a part of the ER cast for a staggering 112 episodes and recently portrayed a lawyer in Oppenheimer.
Frank John Hughes as Staff Sergeant William “Wild Bill” Guarnere
What would a troop of soldiers be without someone with a whimsically unhinged nickname like “Wild Bill?” Well, Staff Sergeant William Guarnere came about that moniker honestly, displaying an aptitude for enduring the chaos and violence of war quite naturally. In his autobiography, Dick Winters even called Wild Bill a “natural killer.”
Frank John Hughes is another classic “hey, I know that face” actor. The Sopranos fans will remember him for his late season role as DiMeo family enforcer Walden Belfiore. He recently appeared as none other than Frank Sinatra in Paramount+’s The Offer.
Neal McDonough as First Lieutenant Lynn “Buck” Compton
No character on Band of Brothers captures the mental toll of war better than Lynn “Buck” Compton. A distinguished soldier and leader, Buck begins to experiences symptoms of what we would now call PTSD after witnessing the severe wounding of his friends. In his autobiography, the real life Buck actually disputes that he suffered from “shell shock,” but does acknowledge the trauma of the event.
Blessed with a shock of Steve Martin-white hair, Neal McDonough is one of Band of Brothers‘ most recognizable actors. Often known for playing villains, McDonough has appeared in Minority Report, Justified, and Yellowstone. He’s a part of both the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Captain America‘s “Dum Dum” Dugan) and DC’s Arrowverse (Damien Darhk)
Eion Bailey as Private First Class David Kenyon Webster
David Webster is one of Band of Brothers‘ more unlikely point-of-view characters. Despite disappearing offscreen with a wound for several episodes, Webster returns to headline the unnerving, action-packed “The Last Patrol.” The real life Webster was a journalist who worked at The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Daily News.
Since the miniseries, Bailey has popped up in everything from Once Upon a Time (Pinocchio) to The Stand (Teddy Weizak). Notably, he also auditioned for the role of Bruce Wayne for Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins.
Marc Warren as Private Albert Blithe
Private Albert Blithe headlines the third episode of Band of Brothers “Carentan,” notably becoming the first non-Dick Winters characters to do so. His story serves as an interesting bookend to the heroism of the aforementioned Winters. For while Blithe is no coward, the series examines the interesting ways in which one’s body can betray them, slightly fudging the real life story of Albert Blithe in the process.
Marc Warren has become a staple of British television in the time since Band of Brothers, appearing in Hustle, Vice, State of Play, and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
Shane Taylor as Fourth Grade Eugene “Doc” Roe
Field medics are an important part of any combat battalion. Embodying the role of the all-important battlefield angel in Band of Brothers is Eugene “Doc” Roe (Shane Taylor). Blessed with a Bayou drawl, Louisiana native Roe became one of Easy Company’s medics despite never attending high school.
Shane Taylor is one of the Band of Brothers cast’s many secret British people. So props to him on that Cajun accent! He hasn’t gotten into much since the miniseries but he did notably appear in the action TV serial Strike Back: Vengeance.
Dale Dye as Colonel Robert Sink
While certainly not lacking in patriotic qualities, Band of Brothers doesn’t shy away from the fact that some American military bigwigs kinda suck. One of those folks who kinda sucks is Colonel Robert Sink. Despite being an effective tactician, Sink often stretches Easy Company’s capabilities to its breaking point, requiring intervention from Dick Winters.
Dale Dye is a decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam War who became the founder of Warriors, Inc., a company that specializes in helping Hollywood productions create realistic depictions of war. He often portrays military figures and has done so in Commander in Chief, Chuck, Cold Case, and Falling Skies.
Matthew Settle as Captain Ronald Speirs
Captain Ronald Spiers has one of the most interesting arcs of any character on Band of Brothers. First introduced as a sort of mythical boogeyman, Spiers eventually adopts an important role within Easy Company. This matches the journey of the real life Spiers in WWII.
Prior to Band of Brothers, Matthew Settle had a notable role in 1998’s I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. He also appeared as Rufus Humphrey in Gossip Girl.
The Many Before-They-Were-Famous Cameos
Michael Fassbender as Technical Sergeant Burton Christenson
Jamie Bamber as Second Lieutenant Jack E. Foley
Jimmy Fallon as Lt. George C. Rice
Stephen Graham as Sgt. Myron “Mike” Ranney
Tom Hardy as Private John Janovec
James McAvoy as Pvt. James W. Miller
Simon Pegg as First Sergeant William S. Evans
Andrew Scott as Private John “Cowboy” Hall
All 10 episodes of Band of Brothers are available to stream on Netflix in the U.S. and U.K., Max in the U.S., and Now in the U.K.