Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan (1998) is known for a number of things: the gut-wrenching, visceral terror of its battle scenes (especially the opening landing at Omaha Beach), the shocking way in which bodies are torn to pieces during the course of those battles, the attention to period detail, and a powerful performance by Tom Hanks that rates as one of his finest.
But one thing that the film may not be as widely recognized for is the lineup of young actors who played members of Capt. John Miller’s (Hanks) squad, or soldiers they met along the way as they searched throughout Normandy for the missing Pvt. James Francis Ryan. From Matt Damon to Vin Diesel, Spielberg recruited relatively new faces who were all, in one way or another, either launching their careers outright or just starting to make their mark on Hollywood.