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Why Corporal Upham From Saving Private Ryan Looks So Familiar

As far as war movies go, "Saving Private Ryan" still holds up as one of the most powerful in the genre. First released in 1998, the story follows a squad of U.S. Army Rangers who, after surviving the D-Day landing on June 6, 1944, must find a soldier whose brothers have all been killed in combat in order to bring him home.

The harrowing D-Day sequence alone elevates "Saving Private Ryan" to greatness. One reason why "Saving Private Ryan" is considered such a great war film is because it manages to simultaneously honor the sacrifices made by soldiers everywhere while also being brutally honest about the toll it takes on them and their families.

One of the film's key characters is Corporal Upham. He's the kind of character that most war movies wouldn't include. He's an outsider in the squad, brought in only for his language skills. He's essentially a non-combatant who's been thrust into a war zone. While another war movie might show Corporal Upham's transformation into a remorseless fighter, "Saving Private Ryan" allows Upham to be unheroic — and doesn't judge him for it. After all, war involves people of all varieties, not just traditional "heroes."

And one reason why Upham is so sympathetic is because of his actor's performance. Corporal Upham is his breakout role, but that's just one of many memorable characters on his resume.

Jeremy Davies' performance in Rescue Dawn blew Werner Herzog away

Eight years after "Saving Private Ryan," Jeremy Davies returned to the war movie genre with "Rescue Dawn," Werner Herzog's 2006 Vietnam War drama. It's based on the life of POW Dieter Dengler, a Navy pilot who was shot down over Laos and captured by the Pathet Lao. Eventually, an emaciated Dengler escapes and makes it back to American forces. In the movie, Davies plays Gene, one of Dengler's fellow POWs who splits up with him following their escape and vanishes into the jungle to meet an unknown fate. 

"Rescue Dawn" director Werner Herzog talked about Davies in a 2008 discussion with director Jonathan Demme, who called Davies one of the most distinctive American thespians, stylistically speaking. Herzog agreed, called Davies a "unique, very significant talent onscreen anywhere in the world," adding that there are "very, very few actors in the world of his caliber."

He was Daniel Faraday on Lost

In 2007, Jeremy Davies played one of the most memorable additions to the cast of "Lost" since the show began when he was cast as Daniel Faraday, the super smart but very troubled scientist who arrives on the island to study it. Faraday was a character whom Davies was able to personally relate to — one of Davies' hobbies is studying quantum physics, which gave him an even deeper understanding of the character. 

Davies joined the show during its fourth season and was originally only supposed to be a guest star. However, producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse realized what he brought to the table and elevated him to the main cast in season 5. "I can't imagine what Season 5 would have looked like without Jeremy Davies," Lindelof told NBC Washington. "When you think about all the crazy stuff that had to come out of that guy's mouth, for him to be as interesting and emotional and poetic as he was is really extraordinary."

Davies won an Emmy for playing Dickie Bennett in Justified

Jeremy Davies is known for playing vulnerable characters who are easy to sympathize with. As Rotten Tomatoes puts it, Davies' trademark is playing "sensitive characters who [possess] a tinge of instability underneath their seemingly innocent façades." So when he was cast as Dickie Bennett in the second season of "Justified," it was a bit of a departure. It wasn't the first time Davies played a villain — he starred in a 2004 made-for-TV movie about Charles Manson — but it's still a menacing performance.

Dickie is a member of the Bennett criminal family, who have a long and violent history with U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens. As kids, Raylan once broke Dickie's leg with a baseball bat, and Dickie continues to limp into the present. By the end of the season, the Bennetts are all dead except for Dickie, who winds up in jail. Davies returned to "Justified" for its third season, where he continued to be a thorn in Raylan's side even though he was behind bars.

Davies won the 2012 Outstanding Guest Actor In A Drama Series for his performance. He was the second "Justified" guest star to win an Emmy, following his Season 2 co-star Margo Martindale.