“The series would then be too simplistic, too jingoistic”: Tom Hanks Believed Band of Brothers Would Be Halted Indefinitely After a Real-Life Tragedy

Embarking on a journey back to a pivotal moment in TV history, it’s hard to believe that over two decades have passed since Band of Brothers deeply engraved its narrative in the heart of popular culture. When it debuted back in 2001, the war drama miniseries—created by Steven Spielberg & Tom Hanks—became a tremendous commercial and critical hit.

The gripping story of the ‘Easy’ Company’s World War II involvement cemented HBO’s standing as a major force in television. Even though the show debuted more than 20 years ago, viewers still find it compelling. Why?

“the series would then be too simplistic, too jingoistic”: tom hanks believed band of brothers would be halted indefinitely after a real-life tragedy

Tom Hanks’ Band of Brothers | HBO Entertainment

In a 2021 interview with Deadline, Hanks spoke about why, even after several years, the Emmy-winning series keeps enticing viewers. As he revealed, there was a time when the series seemed destined to be shrouded in uncertainty, its future hanging by a thread after a real-life tragedy (9/11 terrorist attacks) shook the world.

Tom Hanks’ Perspective on Band of Brothers’ Fate

Tom Hanks, a two-time Academy Award winner, talked with Deadline in 2021 about Band of Brothers in light of the show’s 20th anniversary. Though countless flicks and TV series have documented the atrocities of war, viewers continue to return to the groundbreaking HBO miniseries.

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What, exactly, made Band of Brothers so timeless that it has endured for more than 20 years? Tom Hanks explained to the outlet:

The key word of the title is Brothers. I think the resonance of the series comes from the sense of ‘Us,’ that we are all in this together and the primary, instinctive duty is to look after our brothers. A unit – like Easy Company – stands alone, together.

“the series would then be too simplistic, too jingoistic”: tom hanks believed band of brothers would be halted indefinitely after a real-life tragedy

Band of Brothers | HBO Entertainment

Hanks revealed that there was a time when they thought it might be halted “indefinitely” after a real-life tragedy occurred. In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, there was a fear that the broadcast of the show would be deemed too “simplistic or jingoistic” in the face of such a significant conflict. In his words:

We thought it quite possible that the broadcast of the series would be put on hold indefinitely, as it seemed WWIII had just broken out.  Perhaps, the series would then be too simplistic, too jingoistic.

However, after a brief pause, the decision was made to continue with the series, providing what Hanks described as a “sobering tonic” in uncertain times. He further added:

America was again facing a long, unknowable struggle against an enemy that has been, unquestioningly, working for the dark side of humanity. The Nazis and the Japanese empire fought for dark reasons – of race, theology, of a domination of a status quo based on divisions by caste.

Among the many noteworthy aspects of the show was its cast, which included Ron Livingston, Damian Lewis, James McAvoy, Rene L. Moreno, Andrew Scott, and Tom Hardy.

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Well, did you know that Connor Ratliff was allegedly fired by Hanks for having “dead eyes”?

Tom Hanks’ Apology to Conor Ratliff: What Happened on the Band of Brothers’ Set?

During 2022’s episode of Dead Eyes, Connor Ratliff eventually had the opportunity to confront Tom Hanks about his alleged firing from Band of Brothers. The former spoke with the 67-year-old Oscar winner about the incident and his story of trying out for the 2001 miniseries at the age of 24.

However, “not a single moment of this rings a bell”, Hanks remarked.

“the series would then be too simplistic, too jingoistic”: tom hanks believed band of brothers would be halted indefinitely after a real-life tragedy

Connor Ratliff | Late Night with Seth Meyers

“This is a bone-chilling story, just bone-chilling”, Hanks further said, before accepting “full responsibility” for his deeds. Continuing, he told Ratliff:

This was without a doubt the act of the director, and that was me… In the inner sanctum of whatever this casting session was on Band of Brothers … I’m sure I said, ‘I don’t know man, that guy’s got dead eyes’. I could’ve said, ‘He’s got too blond of hair; he’s too tall and I can’t have the aide be taller than Captain Winters’. I could’ve said, ‘He’s too short and slight … I could’ve said any of these things, and they would have been true and they would’ve been the opinion’.

Ratliff acknowledged that while he could understand why Hanks might’ve trouble remembering his remarks, for him it was “very big” at the time. Over the years, he carried the alleged “dead eyes” comment with him, and as a result, he named his podcast after it. Meanwhile, Hanks revealed that he was “aghast” to learn about the podcast’s origin from his kids.

Anyway, why does Band of Brothers continue to resonate with viewers after all these years? As Tom Hanks put it, it was the sense of “Us” and the duty to look after our brothers that made the story so powerful!

You can stream Band of Brothers on Netflix & Max.

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