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‘Masters of the Air’ Cast and Character Guide: Who’s Who in the Austin Butler-Led WWII Series?

Apple TV+ series “Masters of the Air” is the third collaboration from the team behind HBO’s “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific.” Trio Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman and Steven Spielberg produced the nine-part World War II epic series, which spotlights the men who fought in the 8th Air Force, specifically the men of the 100th Bomb Group. The vivid and vital story finds roots in the book of the same name by Donald L. Miller.

The crew of a typical Eighth Air Force heavy bomber plane included ten men — a pilot and his co-pilot flying the B17, the navigator and the bombardier in the machine’s nose, the flight engineer behind the pilot, the radio operator, two waist gunners, a ball turret gunner and a tail gunner. Not to mention the men who strategized from the bases, the plane engineers and Tuskegee airmen or Royal Airforce pilots who feature in this story.

Here’s everything to know about the stars behind “Masters of the Air”:

Austin Butler in “Masters of the Air” (Apple TV+)
Austin Butler in “Masters of the Air” (Apple TV+)

Major Gale “Buck” Cleven (Austin Butler)

Gale Cleven was nicknamed “Buck” by John Egan after first meeting during flight training. He joined The Bloody Hundredth in the U.S. Eight Air Force as a squadron commander at the age of 24. He flew many missions, all while waiting to return home to his girl Marge. According to Don Miller’s book, “Buck” was “easily the best storyteller on the base.” After the end of WWII, Buck went on to earn an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Ph.D. in interplanetary physics.

Austin Butler is best known for his Oscar-nominated portrayal of Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrman’s “Elvis” (2022), where he also worked alongside Tom Hanks, who played Colonel Tom Parker. Butler appeared as Tex Watson in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (2019). Previously, he played Sebastian Kydd in “The Carrie Diaries,” and James ‘Wilke’ Wilkerson III in “Switched at Birth.” He will be seen in the upcoming film “The Bikeriders” (2023) as Benny, alongside Tom Hardy and Jodie Comer.

Callum Turner in “Masters of the Air” (Apple TV+)
Callum Turner in “Masters of the Air” (Apple TV+)

Major John “Bucky” Egan (Callum Turner)

John “Bucky” Egan nicknamed Cleven “Buck” after a friend he knew from Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Egan served as commander of the 418th Squadron of the Hundredth. He was 27 years old at the height of the war. He was known for his rowdy side, which would come out after a few drinks on nights he didn’t have flight missions the next morning.

Callum Turner recently played Joe Rantz in another World War II-adjacent story, “The Boys in the Boat,” directed by George Clooney and adapted from the book by Daniel James Brown. He is also known for his appearances as Anatole Kuragin in “War & Peace,” Bill Rohan in “Queen & Country” (2014), Tiger in “Green Room” (2015) and Danny in “Tramps” (2016). He plays Theseus in “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” and “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” Anthony O’Hare in “The Last Letter from Your Lover” and Frank Churchhill in “Emma” (2020).

Anthony Boyle in “Masters of the Air” (Apple TV+)
Anthony Boyle in “Masters of the Air” (Apple TV+)

Lieutenant Harry Crosby (Anthony Boyle)

Harry H. Crosby was a navigator in Egan’s 418th Squadron. He had horrible air sickness, which interfered with his navigation at times, but he kept to it.

Anthony Boyle is most well-known for playing Geoffrey Smith in “Tolkien” (2019), Kevin Maxwell in “Tetris” (2023), Trench Runner in “The Lost City of Z” (2016) and Anto in “Pillow Talk” (2012). He also played Scorpius Malfoy in “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” for which he won an Olivier Award. He appeared in an episode of “Game of Thrones” as a Bolton Guard, and two episodes of “Derry Girls” as David Donnelly.

Barry Keoghan in “Masters of the Air” (Apple TV+)
Barry Keoghan in “Masters of the Air” (Apple TV+)

Lieutenant Curtis Biddick (Barry Keoughan)

Curtis Biddick is a pilot of Irish descent, but he has a pretty thick New York accent. The lieutenant brings some comedic relief to the rest of the mostly serious squadrons with whom he flies missions.

Barry Keoghan is having a moment right now following his lead role as Oliver Quick in Emerald Fennel’s sophomore film “Saltburn” (2023). He played Dominic Kearney in “The Banshees of Inisherin” (2022), for which he was nominated for an Oscar. He appeared as The Joker in “The Batman” (2022) and as Druig in “Eternals” (2021). He played Scavenger in “The Green Knight” (2021), Pavel in “Chernobyl,” Spencer in “American Animals” (2018), George in “Dunkirk” (2017) and Martin in Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” (2017).

Sgt. Ken Lemmons in “Masters of the Air” (Apple TV+)
Sgt. Ken Lemmons in “Masters of the Air” (Apple TV+)

Sergeant Ken Lemmons (Rafferty Law)

Ken Lemmons doctors up the planes after every mission. It’s his and his team of engineers’ jobs to fix up any damage to ensure that they can turn around for a mission the next day if need be.

Rafferty Law is the son of actor Jude Law. The young actor and model played the younger version of his dad’s character Remy in “Repo Men” (2010), Fred Love in the short film “Running Man” (2019) and Twist in “Twist” (2021).

Nate Mann in “Masters of the Air” (Apple TV+)
Nate Mann in “Masters of the Air” (Apple TV+)

Major Robert “Rosie” Rosenthal (Nate Mann)

Robert “Rosie” Rosenthal joined the Hundredth later than the rest. He was called up out of a replacement pool of soldiers in England. He went above and beyond as a commanding officer.

Nate Mann is most well known for playing Brian in “Licorice Pizza” (2021). He also played Otto in “Ex-Husbands” (2023) and he will be seen as a guest star in Peacock’s upcoming adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s book “Apples Never Fall.”

Ncuti Gatwa in “Masters of the Air” (Apple TV+)
Ncuti Gatwa in “Masters of the Air” (Apple TV+)

2nd Lieutenant Robert H. Daniels (Ncuti Gatwa)

Ncuti Gatwa plays one of three Tuskegee airmen who conducted their WWII bombing raids at night in smaller, more agile planes. This trio appears in later episodes.

Gatwa is most well-known for his role as Eric Effiong in Netflix’s “Sex Education,” as well as for his portrayal of The Doctor in “Doctor Who.” He appeared as Nick in “The Last Letter from Your Lover,” and he also played a Ken in Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” (2023).

Branden Cook in “Masters of the Air” (Apple TV+)
Branden Cook in “Masters of the Air” (Apple TV+)

2nd Lieutenant Alexander Jefferson (Branden Cook)

Tuskegee pilot Alexander Jefferson was known for his artistic ability and drawings. He could render maps to scale.  

Branden Cook has appeared in an episode of “Chicago P.D.” as Darrell Miller. He appears in two episodes of “Industry” as Todd Barber. He played Evan in “Tell Me Lies” on Hulu.

Josiah Cross in “Masters of the Air” (Apple TV+)
Josiah Cross in “Masters of the Air” (Apple TV+)

2nd Lieutenant Richard D. Macon (Josiah Cross)

Richard D. Macon rounds out the trio of Tuskegee airmen. Macon was able to conduct large mathematical equations in his head. His brains clarified many of his regiment’s missions.

Josiah Cross played 17-year-old Terry in “A Thousand and One” (2023) and TD in “King Richard” (2021). He will also be seen in the TV series “Lady in the Lake” based on the book by Laura Lippman.

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