Masters of the Air star Austin Butler hails WW2 pilots’ heroism

AUSTIN BUTLER and Callum Turner in Masters of the Air Part One. — IMDB.COM

LONDON/NEW YORK — The much-awaited World War Two series Masters of the Air makes its streaming debut on Friday.

Conceived and produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, the Band of Brothers spin-off’s stellar ensemble cast includes actors Austin Butler, Callum Turner, Barry Keoghan, Ncuti Gatwa, and Raff Law.

The show is based on historian Donald L. Miller’s 2007 book of the same name and follows the US Air Force’s 100th Bomb Group and their risky raids over Nazi Germany.

Elvis star Butler plays Major Gale “Buck” Cleven, who alongside his best friend, Major John “Bucky” Egan (Turner), leads the young men, who came to be known as The Bloody Hundredth, on their deadly missions.

“I felt a lot of responsibility bringing this to life. They’re the true heroes and their bravery is second to none,” said Butler.

“The psychological turmoil they were going through at such a young age, I’m just filled with this reverence and this feeling of immense gratitude to them because they made the world a safer place,” Butler, 32, said.

British actor Turner, fresh off his star turn in George Clooney’s The Boys in the Boat, said the series portrays both the hazardous situations and the range of emotions the squadron faced.

“You had a 23% chance of survival every time you went up into the plane,” said Turner.

“You get to see how volatile and violent it was every time they went up but you also get to experience them dealing with their grief and the effect on their mind, body and spirit.”

The sets were so realistic and detailed they made Irish actor Keoghan feel like he was part of the military, he said.

“You looked around and there were people just marching away and military cars driving down the runway, just people going about their business. I felt really brought back to that time period.”

Getting the show off the ground and ready to air was a huge task for all involved, said co-creator John Orloff.

“It was enormous. But that was the air war. My original intention was we only make this if we make it to scale and scale meant big,” he said.

The first two episodes of the nine-part series launch on Apple TV+ on Friday, with new episodes then released weekly through March 15. — Reuters