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Friday, 5 October, 2001, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
Band of Brothers' realism push
Lewis and Schwimmer: Stars underwent military training
Lewis and Schwimmer: Stars underwent military training
Tom Hanks insisted on making his World War II TV drama Band of Brothers as realistic as possible, according to Damian Lewis, an English actor who stars in the series.

Oscar-winner Hanks was executive producer of the series, which is based on the true story of elite paratroop unit Easy Company's missions across Europe after D-Day.

"Tom sometimes sacrificed manipulating the drama in a way you might expect Hollywood to do," Lewis told BBC One's Breakfast programme.

"He sacrificed that for the truth, a really faithful re-telling of what happened."

Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg were executive producers
Tom Hanks was an executive producer
Steven Spielberg was also executive producer on the 10-part series that starts in the UK on Friday after receiving mixed reviews in America.

Lewis plays Dick Winters - a real figure who was in Easy Company and who is now 83 years old.

Lewis met and wrote to the real Major Winters while preparing for his role.

"Dick Winters is suspicious of the Hollywood machine and I think he was wary of what they would do with his story," Lewis said.

"I think when he realised how zealous Tom Hanks was in his push for authenticity, everyone relaxed."

Army training

The story did not need to be exaggerated for the screen, he said.

"Let's face it, you drop a group of men on D-Day behind enemy lines and then put them through Normandy, Holland, the Battle of the of the Bulge, down into Germany and then capture Hitler's Eagle's Nest - there's not really much you have to do."

Lewis also revealed that the actors were sent on a 10-day army training course where they were forced to stay in character for the whole time.

"We were accompanied by people who had military experience and they said it was as rigorous a training as any of them had had," he said.

"I kept my American accent for 10 days and referred to all the other actors in character names. We weren't allowed mobile phones or contemporary literature or anything like that."

Unknown

Lewis joked that when he was in character as Dick Winters, he felt that "anything was possible", but that when he reverted back to being Damian Lewis, he was "crying in the corner of the dormitory".

The actor was previously best-known for his role as Mark Rose in UK TV drama Hearts and Bones.

Most of Band of Brothers' main roles are taken by relatively unknown actors.

David Schwimmer, who plays Ross in Friends, is the only big name to take a major part, although Tom Hanks and son Colin make cameo appearances.

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