A Guide to the Hunks of Spielberg’s New War Drama. For, Uh, Historical Accuracy Reasons.

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Masters of the Air, Apple TV+’s highly anticipated war drama based on Donald L. Miller’s book of the same name, will finally premiere on Friday. The limited series serves as a companion to Band of Brothers, HBO’s hit 2001 miniseries from Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. While Band of Brothers, based on Stephen E. Ambrose’s book, was about the United States Army’s 506th Infantry Regiment during World War II, this new show—executive produced by Spielberg and Hanks, and developed by John Orloff—follows the story of the 100th Bomb Group, also known as the “Bloody Hundredth” due to the catastrophic losses it suffered during combat.

If you’re into slowly paced war dramas, then you should already be amped over this release. But Masters of the Air is not just for the history buffs—it is also a treat for anyone with eyes. I’m not just talking about the cinematography, though it is stunning: What I mean is that the casting directors clearly took a page from Band of Brothers’ and Top Gun’s well-thumbed books and searched far and wide for some of the industry’s hunkiest rising stars to portray these servicemen. The series is so chock-full of strapping young men with slicked-back hair that it’s almost distracting. Never fear, we’re here to break it down for you. As Slate’s resident expert in all things Austin Butler and swoon-worthy thespians, I present: a guide to Masters of the Air’s many aviators-sporting studs.

Austin Butler.
Apple TV+

Role: Though Masters of the Air has an ensemble cast, there are undoubtedly two leading men: best friends Majs. Cleven and Egan. Of the devastatingly handsome duo, Cleven is the straight-laced, goody two-shoes who doesn’t drink, smoke, gamble, sleep around, or even follow sports. Instead, he talks more with his eyes than his mouth, drinks nonalcoholic ginger beer, and is almost always chewing on a toothpick (which only adds to his debonair charm). Cleven is the moral compass of the show. When he’s not pulling off dangerous missions and flight landings that no one else seems capable of doing, he keeps the boys—especially Egan—in line and prioritizes the lives of his men over the success of the mission.

Known for: Most people will be familiar with Butler from his Oscar-nominated performance as Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann’s 2022 biopic Elvis—or, rather, from the hullabaloo about the Elvis accent that the actor was never able to shake. But real Butler fans know him as the charming bad boy Sebastian Kydd in The Carrie Diaries, Manson Family central member Tex Watson in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and, of course, Vanessa Hudgens’ ex-boyfriend. Butler is set to star in the forthcoming Dune 2, where he will look, erm, very different.

Flight-crew readiness rating: 10/10. Listen, I don’t know the first thing about flying a plane, but if there’s one thing Butler convinces the audience of, it’s that he’s the pilot. As Cleven, he always keeps his composure under pressure and has great instincts.

Hunkiness rank: Lieutenant General of dangling a toothpick from his lips. Could (and would) pull you from a crashed plane just before it explodes, carry you bridal-style to safety, and whisper “You’re gonna be just fine, darlin’, ” in your ear.

Callum Turner.
Apple TV+

Role: Everything that Cleven is, Egan is decidedly not. He gets way too drunk and sings off-key, he romances women on every continent, loves baseball, and makes foolhardy decisions disregarding rank and seniority. He’s the quintessential devilishly handsome bad boy (well, as “bad” as a World War II hero can be in a pro-military American war drama), imbued with so much charisma that all the recruits hang on his every word. Egan is brave and lucky enough to make it through every situation unscathed—even when he gets reprimanded, he still wheedles the higher-ups into doing what he wants, and even when he leads deadly missions, he always has the most pristine-looking plane upon return.

Known for: Ever since Turner’s breakout role in the 2014 drama Queen and Country, the British actor has played a variety of characters including Frank Churchill in 2020’s Emma, Theseus Scamander in the Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts series, and the lead in George Clooney’s rowing biopic The Boys in the Boat.

Flight-crew readiness rating: 7/10. He may be chaotic, but Egan really is one blessed guy. Sure, luck may be fickle, but I’m convinced he could unconsciously fly a plane and land it safely just because the fates allow.

Hunkiness rank: General of doing something wrong that feels too right. I should point out that Butler and Turner are at their most magnetic in the series when they’re on-screen together. However, even when solo, he sure is something to behold.

Barry Keoghan.
Apple TV+

Role: Biddick is the wisecrackin’ lieutenant of the camp, with a thick New York accent and impish grin. However, through all of his bravado, he’s one of the most earnest guys in the 100th. He’s fiercely loyal and would do just about anything for his friends.

Known for: The Irish actor has made a name for himself playing odd little freaks in Hollywood’s premiere dramas, including The Killing of a Sacred Deer, The Banshees of Inisherin, and The Green Knight. Keoghan also dabbled in blockbusters with a role in Marvel’s The Eternals. Recently he made waves as the protagonist in Emerald Fennell’s salacious film Saltburn, which went viral on TikTok and repopularized early-aughts disco-pop song “Murder on the Dancefloor.”

Flight-crew readiness rating: 6/10. For all the jokes he cracks, Biddick seems to be about his business. However, he also seems like the type who is stubborn enough to risk the lives of many to save the life of one.

Hunkiness rank: First lieutenant of valiantly defending your honor. Keoghan’s looks are a little unconventional for him to be considered a classic hunk, but he’s almost always charming, and this performance is no exception. It helps that he’s also pretty funny as Biddick—maybe it’s the accent?  

Anthony Boyle
Apple TV+

Role: Crosby is our narrator and the character who changes most throughout the story. At the start, Crosby is a bumbling flight navigator whose violent motion sickness gets him and his crew into some close scrapes. This crushes his self-confidence, as he is surrounded by men, like Cleven and Egan, who seem larger than life.

Known for: Boyle started out on stage, winning an Olivier award and earning a Tony nomination for his portrayal of Scorpius Malfoy in both the West End and Broadway productions of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Boyle can also be seen in films such as Tolkien and Tetris, and series such as The Plot Against America.

Flight-crew readiness rating: 3/10. I know that the whole point of the show is that Crosby gets better, but in the very first episode his motion sickness causes him to lead his crew astray to enemy territory in France instead of ally territory in England. As someone who is all too familiar with the debilitating might of motion sickness, it’s gonna be a hard pass for me.

Hunkiness rank: Major of being sick with love. He kind of looks like that kid who would snitch on you in middle school, only prettier.

Raff Law.
Apple TV+

Role: Lemmons is one of the engineers on the base, which is, arguably, the most important job—after all, there wouldn’t be pilots without working planes! Not only is he a skilled mechanic, but Lemmons is also an incredibly sweet guy who spends his free time hanging out with some of the kids on the base and teaching them about aviation and plane mechanics.

Known for: If his last name seems familiar, that would be because Raff is the son of A-list actor Jude Law. This is his first major on-screen role; he has previously appeared in just a few shorts and his father’s films. However, Law scores high on the extracurriculars: He also models and makes music with his band, Outer Stella Overdrive (which, fun fact, also includes Damon Albarn’s nephew Rudy Albarn).

Flight-crew readiness rating: 10/10. He’s one of the most astute flight engineers I’ve ever seen on TV. (OK, so maybe he’s the only.)

Hunkiness rank: Captain of fixing planes and hearts. All said, Lemmons feels like more of a handsome guy-next-door than a heartthrob. But that’s why we love him.

Elliot Warren
Apple TV+

Role: Douglass is a sweet-talking bombardier who is full of jokes and pickup lines. He helps round out the ensemble cast.

Known for: Before Masters of the Air, Warren had small parts in productions such as How to Have Sex and 2022’s The Batman. However, Warren has garnered more acclaim for his writing for stage and screen, winning an Olivier award for his debut play Flesh and Bone, which he also co-directed and starred in.

Flight-crew readiness rating: 8/10. He seems pretty handy with the bombs, and I certainly don’t want to touch them. He’s got it.

Hunkiness rank: Colonel of making eyes with you across the bar … and slightly resembling universally recognized hunk Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Warren as Douglass looks like a greaser in some ’40s version of New York and, simply put, that just works.

Adam Long
Apple TV+

Role: While Long’s is a sizably smaller part, he makes up for it in his dual role as both military man and father to Meatball—a husky he won during a game of craps—whom DeMarco takes with him as he joins the 100th. Meatball becomes a crowd favorite among the crew, even sharing a slow dance with Cleven later on in the series.

Known for: Long’s career has mostly been in television, with him having appeared in series such as Happy Valley, The Long Shadow, Bancroft, and The Bay. He has also had small roles in war films Dunkirk and Cherry.

Flight-crew readiness rating: 5/10. He brought a dog! But also … he brought a dog?

Hunkiness rank: Lieutenant colonel of being man’s best friend. Again: He brought a dog.

James Murray
Apple TV+

Role: Harding is the most senior officer that our boys in the 100th most commonly interact with. He’s a hardass on the outside, but a softie on the inside, who cares dearly about all of the lives he’s in charge of, even while being beholden to his sense of duty.

Known for: Murray is best known for his work in television, which includes Defiance, Primeval, and The Crown, in which he plays Prince Andrew.

Flight-crew readiness rating: 8/10. Harding doesn’t really fly, as he’s too senior of an officer to have to risk his own life. That being said, I have no doubt in my mind that he would hop in a plane if he had to. I just … don’t know if he can. But I’m taking it on faith.

Hunkiness rank: Major general of giving orders and looking good while doing it. Harding isn’t my usual type, I have to admit, but his dedication to his cause is admirable.

Nate Mann
Apple TV+

Role: Rosie comes in midway through the show with his strong jawline and blue-green eyes as a talented pilot sent in to further aid our protagonists. He is pure of heart, a genuine good guy and natural leader who befriends everyone he meets and steps up to the plate when needed.

Known for: Mann is a fairly new actor, with Masters of the Air being his biggest production to date. Before this, he had a small role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza. He is cast in a recurring role in the upcoming Peacock mystery miniseries Apples Never Fall, starring Annette Bening and Sam Neill.

Flight-crew readiness rating: 10/10. Implicitly, immediately, without hesitation, where are we going?

Hunkiness rank: Brigadier general of sharp jawlines and eyes you could swim in. Will literally cast a spell on you with his eyes. Maybe he is possessing me now and writing this whole thing.

Ncuti Gatwa
Apple TV+

Role: The Tuskegee Airmen don’t appear until a much later stage in the series, but when they do?! Goodness me. Only three Black fighter pilots of the 99th actually get to meet our scalawag crew of the 100th, but they certainly make their mark. Even though they’re all second lieutenants, Daniels is the de facto leader of the trio.

Known for: The Rwandan-Scottish actor is best known for his role as Eric in Netflix’s hit series Sex Education, and, most recently, for his incarnation as the 15th Doctor in the long-running British sci-fi series Doctor Who. Gatwa also acted as one of the Kens in Greta Gerwig’s blockbuster hit Barbie.

Flight-crew readiness rating: 7/10. While I don’t trust Gatwa’s American accent in the show, Daniels seems entirely capable of weathering the storms up high.

Hunkiness rank: Major of having perfect skin even in the throes of war. I can’t even make a joke about this: Ncuti Gatwa is one of the most stunning humans I have ever seen.

Branden Cook
Apple TV+

Role: Where Daniels is the leader, Jefferson is the brains of the trio. He’s fairly skilled in cartography, reads Maugham, has been building intricate models throughout his life, and can do all of the things fighter pilots do. If you ever need to plot your way out of a pickle, or get yourself out of a jam, he’s your guy. Because of his resourceful nature, he’s the Black pilot we spend the most time with.

Known for: This is Cook’s biggest break thus far, but before this he was best known for his stints on the shows Tell Me Lies and Industry.

Flight-crew readiness rating: 10/10. Like Lemmons, if Jefferson told me up was down and down was up, I’d believe him.

Hunkiness rank: Lieutenant colonel of making the perfect plans. Certainly not as hunky as he was in Industry, but he could still do some damage.

Josiah Cross
Apple TV+

Role: Macon is the third of the main Tuskegee men that we get introduced to in the series, but unfortunately some injuries he sustained before he meets Cleven and Egan’s crew preclude him from being as in the thick of it as Jefferson is. Still, he shows himself to be a dependable friend, planner, and a good person to brainstorm with.

Known for: Prior to Masters of the Air, Cross’ best-known roles were a small part in the biopic King Richard and the lead role in A Thousand and One. Cross’ staggering performance in the latter put him more firmly on Hollywood’s map.

Flight-crew readiness rating: 8/10. Sure! He seems to know his stuff.

Hunkiness rank: Captain of keeping promises. Even with a neck injury, he is still swoon-worthy.