Today marks the 73rd anniversary of D-day, when the Allies stormed the beaches of Normandy and halted Nazi Germany’s takeover of Europe.
In film, there’s perhaps no better re-creation of that harrowing attack than Saving Private Ryan, the powerful 1998 WWII movie directed by Steven Spielberg. And in addition to being an up-close-and-personal look at military history, the movie also featured a mixed cast of big names (Tom Hanks), up-and-comers (Matt Damon), and soon-to-be greats (Vin Diesel, Bryan Cranston).
Matt Damon (Private Ryan)
Matt Damon played the titular role of Private Ryan. The actor was not yet an action star, but in the year prior to Saving Private Ryan he starred in the acclaimed movie Good Will Hunting, which earned him an Oscar. Of course, since then he’s become blockbuster bait thanks to the Ocean’s and Bourne action franchises. He’s also since been nominated for two Oscars for his performances in Invictus and The Martian.
Tom Hanks (Captain Miller)
Tom Hanks was already a certified movie star thanks to films like Big and Forrest Gump before Saving Private Ryan. And not much has changed since. In the movie, he starred as Captain Miller and was nominated for an Oscar for that role. Since this, in 2001, he was nominated for another Oscar for Cast Away. He also keeps fans up-to-date on his everyday activities — and various lost items — with his quirky Twitter account.
Tom Sizemore (Sergeant Horvath)
Tom Sizemore had a smaller part in the movie as Technical Sergeant Mike Horvath. But unlike his co-stars, he was plagued by drug addiction after the movie. In a recent interview with the Daily Mail, he admitted to living in the woods with no water or electricity and asking friends for loans of $10 million. He is currently almost four years sober. “I feel great, I’m exercising five times a week, I’m in good shape, and I’ve not looked as well as I have for some time,” says Sizemore.
Ed Burns (Private Reiben)
Ed Burns played Private Reiben. He was already known for directing The Brothers McMullen in 1995 and his role in She’s the One in 1996. Since Saving Private Ryan, he married supermodel Christy Turlington. They have two children together, Grace and Finn. He has also starred in movies like Life or Something Like It, 27 Dresses, and Friends With Kids.
Vin Diesel (Private Caparzo)
Did you know that Vin Diesel had a part in Saving Private Ryan? Yeah, didn’t think so. Diesel (who played Private Caparzo) is perhaps the biggest success story to come out of the movie. But at the time, he was still a bouncer in New York. Now, he’s one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood and has had huge success as Dominic Toretto in The Fast and the Furious action series.
Bryan Cranston (War Department colonel)
If Vin came as a surprise, then buckle up … because Walter White himself, Bryan Cranston, also appeared in the movie (as a one-armed officer at the War Department). At the time, Cranston had landed only a handful of bit parts in movies and television shows. But two years later, he scored the part of Hal in the hit television show Malcolm In the Middle. Later, in 2008, he reversed course from the sitcom and cemented his legacy by playing the menacing meth cook/antihero Walter White in Breaking Bad. In 2015, he was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in Trumbo.
In other Tom Hanks-related news, he recently shared an ominous photo on Twitter that had everyone talking:
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