Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Band Of Brothers' Cast Recounts Brutal Boot Camp In Preparation For The Show

"Band of Brothers" is an iconic mini-series that captivated viewers from the moment it began airing way back in September of 2001. The show was helmed by executive producers Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, who joined forces again a few years after releasing "Saving Private Ryan." While the top echelon of the project has immediately recognizable names, though, one of the things that make the series so special is the immaculate performance delivered by a sprawling cast of, at the time, relatively no-name individuals.

This group executes a fiercely believable iteration of the elite group of paratroopers that made up Easy Company of the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. Every scene, no matter who's in it or what they're doing, comes across as an authentic portrayal of the horrors of World War 2 as seen through the eyes of its Allied aerial soldiery.

It turns out that there's a very good reason for the intense closeness and camaraderie of the men of Easy Company, too: they trained together. And we're not talking about a few trips to the gym or off-season workouts. The actors went through a two-week mini boot camp that, according to the cast, sounded like it was a fortnight from hell. To quote Damien Lewis (who plays Major Dick Winters in the series, "That first day of boot camp, I looked around me and went, 'Oh, Jesus.'"

An authentic boot camp experience

The "Band of Brothers" cast had a truly authentic experience while prepping to film the ten-part mini-series. The cast was perpetually face to face with screaming drill instructors who belittled and broke them down before building them back up in typical boot camp fashion. The group was pushed to exhaustion, fed terrible rations day after day, and had to soldier on in near-constant sunless weather. To top it off, the group had to train in original 1940s boot camp gear.

"When boot camp started, we had none of our personal possessions," explained David Schwimmer, who portrayed Captain Herbert Sobel in the story, "So we don't have jogging shoes. They just gave us brand new authentic or reproduction boots, which were incredibly hard leather. And these guys, I mean, I cant, it's amazing that this is what they trained in because we were up at four, five in the morning, and there was often no stretching, and there was often freezing cold, and we would train running on cement or on hard ground in these boots that were not broken in."

Everything was terrifying, but effective

The two-week boot camp relentlessly whipped the cast into shape. Multiple actors recounted the horrors of each day, although a surprising number of times, they tied the undesirable elements to an impressive level of effectiveness.

"So you become a scum bag piece of s*** a**h*** who doesn't know anything," recalled Michael Cudlitz, who played Easy Company's Sgt. "Bull" Randleman, "and you go, fine, I'll do your pushups. And you buy into it, and you know what? That's the only way it works."

Cudlitz also pointed out, "If you let yourself go there, it is a terrifying situation, you know? We're going on three hours of sleep a night. The food is horrible. The conditions are horrible. You're all in it together, so you're all, in between, making jokes and bonding. But you have this force, this cadre, these guys training us, that are behind you, screaming at you the whole way and making you better at what you're doing every minute."

Interestingly, Donnie Wahlberg, who plays 2nd Lt. Carwood Lipton, had plenty of negative things to say about the training. And yet, the actor summed up the alarming adventure with the succinctly positive line, "It was one of the best experiences ever." The training may have been nightmarishly brutal, but there's no doubt that it helped forge the actors on set into an acceptable reflection of the kind of camaraderie you can only truly find on the battlefield.