Tom Rice DDay split
A fearful trek through dark woods on D-Day
02:19 - Source: CNN

‘Band of Brothers’ was a casting feat for the ages

Tom Rice DDay split
A fearful trek through dark woods on D-Day
02:19 - Source: CNN

Editor’s Note: June 6, 2019 marks the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.

CNN  — 

If you ever want to know what it takes to put together one of the most impressive casts ever assembled for a television miniseries, it would be worth digging through Meg Liberman’s archives.

By her admission, she kept “every piece of paper” from her time casting HBO’s “Band of Brothers,” the award-winning miniseries about Easy Company, a group of tight-knit soldiers from the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division, and follows their stories before, during and after D-Day.

She has the impressively specific character breakdowns she was given. (“Perconte, from Joliet, Illinois. Son of Chicago mafia. A real joker, compulsive, hygienic, uses only Philips toothpaste from home.”) She has photos of the men who inspired those characters. She has video from the auditions that Steven Spielberg filmed himself because he didn’t like the static feel of their first set-up.

The collection of mementos is Liberman’s reminder of what she calls “the best job I’ve ever had.”

She won awards for the gig, sure (including an Emmy). But her fondness for the project stems from something much deeper.

“I describe it as it [being] touched by fairy dust in some way,” says Liberman, now executive vice president of casting for CBS Television Studios. “We were short on material sometimes, but the underlying material, the emotion and the relationships that these people had created this environment where everyone felt very connected to what they were doing and to each other.”

The cast still gets together every year on the anniversary of their reporting to boot camp, usually at actor Michael Cudlitz’s house. Liberman’s only missed two of these gatherings. Next year will be their 20th.

“This is next year is going to be a big year because I think everybody is going to try to really make it,” she said.

“Band of Brothers” was largely an ensemble piece, but at its center was a man named Dick Winters. Throughout the ten episodes, the audience sees Winters’s rise through the ranks and his unwavering leadership and bravery on display.

While the show was heavy in British actors, Liberman felt strongly the role of an American hero should be played by an American. That is, until Damien Lewis came in.

“He just felt like a leader,” she said. “He felt like the guy that these men would do anything for … that everyone would follow. And it was very clear to me the minute we all sat down that he was the guy.”