Saving Private Ryan

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Spielberg's Role: Director, Co-Producer
US Release Date: 1993



Saving Private Ryan Stars Tom Hanks as Captain John Miller. Hanks' character leads the rescue team to find Private James Ryan behind enemy lines. Hanks has stared in such movies as Philadelphia, Apollo 13, Forest Gump and Toy Story. He has also stared in the Spielberg produced movie The Money Pit. Hanks has never gotten the chance to work directly with Spielberg, however.

"We had to make a determination whether we wanted to risk our friendship in a work environment," Spielberg says of Hanks, whose wife, Rita Wilson, is best friends with Spielberg's wife, Kate Capshaw. "We decided that we could survive the experience, and we did." - From TV Guide-

Hanks won the Academy Award for best actor twice (for Philadelphia and Forest Gump), and was nominated for best actor for his role in Big. As well as acting, Hanks has taken his turn behind the camera. He wrote and directed That Thing You Do and produced and directed several episodes of the mini-series From Earth to the Moon.

"A lot of the guys who have dared claim to be directors can't believe how fast Steven works," says Hanks ruefully. "A number of us just did this so we could see how Steven made a movie. It's probably the best film school you could enroll in. We've had a wonderful summer vacation, liberating France." -LA Times-


The part of the second in command (referred to only as Sarge) is being played by Tom Sizemore. Sizemore played the lead role in The Relic as well as a large role in Heat. He has also stared in Wyatt Earp, Passenger 57 and many other blockbuster movies.

"I know that 20 years from now if anyone asks me one question, it will be, 'What was it like to be in Saving Private Ryan?'" - Sizemore quote from TV Guide


The title role of Private Ryan will be played by rising star Matt Damon. Damon has recently stared in the courtroom drama The Rainmaker as well as writing (along with Ben Affleck) and staring in Good Will Hunting. Damon and Affleck won an Oscar for their script. Neither film was out when Damon was cast for the part, however.

Not only was Damon not a major star at casting time, he almost wasn't chosen at all. Spielberg turned him away because he was too skinny (he had lost 40 pounds for his role in Courage Under Fire. Robin Williams brought him back to Spielberg during the making of Good Will Hunting. Obviously it paid off for both parties.

"It's been fortuitous," said Spielberg "And I'm proud of Matt for handling [stardom] like such a gentleman. He's one of the shining examples of how nice guys can finish first." -from the LA Times-


Edward J. Burns will play Reiben. Burns Directed, Produced and stared in No Looking Back, The Brothers' McMullen and She's the One.

"Saving Private Ryan is definitely an antiwar film" -Burns referring to the raw depiction of World War II. (from TV Guide)

Other Stars

Saving Private Ryan will also star (in order as pictured below) Vin Diesel (Private Caparzo), Adam Goldberg (Private Mellish), Giovanni Ribisi (Wade - the medic), Jeremy Davies (Corporal Upham) and Barry Pepper (Private Jackson). Of course many others appeared in the movie. Ted Danson even had a bit part.

"I got to watch Tom Hanks work and Steven Spielberg. So fast. He was shooting D-Day, and I think they wrapped two weeks early. He is so smart and so fast." -Ted Danson (