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‘Elvis’ Actor Trained With B-17 Pilots For Role In WWII Series

via Apple TV

The new miniseries “Masters of the Air” depicts the real-life commanders of the 100th Bomb Group of the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II.

Actors Austin Butler and Callum Turner underwent intense training, including history lessons, physical training, and learning to operate B-17 bombers.

The series follows the airmen’s experiences and the strong bond within the group.

“We were really fortunate to have this two-week boot camp right when we started,” Butler said. “And so that was an incredible way that we were able to set the foundation as a team, you know, all of us as brothers.”

“It was just incredible because we had the history of the world at that time and of World War II, we had the technical aspects of getting into a B-17 and all of our specific roles that we were playing.”

“We were pilots,” he said. “So, we had our time with the pilots of learning everything we possibly could about a B-17 in the cockpit. And … that time was really integral. I mean, that on top of all the individual work that we would have done on our characters and reading and watching and everything that we possibly could.”

“There’s an abundance of information out there, documentaries,” Turner said. “Things I found that I really liked were Frank Capra, he and John Houston. They, and I think Billy Wilder, too, they went out and made documentaries about the war for the Army, for the government. And I found those really interesting, you know, some of the greatest filmmakers of all time.”

“And just films around the time, like ‘Best Years of Our Lives.’ ‘Battle of Algiers’ is a movie that I just adore and that was something I watched a bunch just to get the sensation, of feeling,” Turner added. “And then our characters, in the middle of this, there’s these two guys that love each other and are best buds, fighting the good fight in the way they know how.”

“And they joined up before Pearl Harbor, so they had something inherent in them that was a determination, a steeliness that was going to stand up to evil and stand up in the face of adversity and try and help the world,” he said. “And they did.”

Both actors expressed deep respect for their characters and the real-life heroes they portray.

“These guys are real heroes. They’re superheroes, man. And I’m so grateful to them. And I know we both feel it’s such an honor to represent them and continue their stories and shine a light on their legacy,” Turner said.

“Callum, I mean, he’s right here – I’m going to blow smoke,” Butler said. “But he’s just one of the greatest guys. He has such a noble heart. He has that mentality of ‘rising tides lifts all boats,’ you know?”

“This is true,” he said, causing Turner to laugh. “He works really hard. He’s a hard worker, funny, kind human being.”

“Sometimes the jokes don’t land, man,” Turner quipped.

“Sometimes they don’t land,” Butler said.

“And look, Austin — I fell in love with Austin as soon as I met him. He’s an incredible actor and a beautiful human being. And I learned a lot about being a man with him and as an actor, too. And I loved it. I really loved the journey with him.”

“They want that boot camp they’ve heard so much about. And so, you know, we do that, of course. Capt. Dye is our military adviser with a few of his guys all the way through. They always have input into the guys. We had training from B-17 pilots who were with us the entire shoot,” Butler said of his training.

“All the machinations of being in the road crew, the maintenance, anything that they were doing — we had official people who really knew the game training the boys and the boys insist on it. You know, they want it.”

“They really are rabid for for really knowing who they’re supposed to be, which is so great,” he added. “I just love our cast so much.”

The show, based on Donald L. Miller’s book, is a companion to “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific,” and features technical advice from Capt. Dale Dye. The series streams on Apple+ on Jan 26.

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