Dale Dye on Training Private Ryan

The US Marines combat veteran and Hollywood consultant discusses preparing the cast of the WWII classic. 

A decorated combat veteran of the US Marines, Captain Dale Dye is among Hollywood’s go-to experts for military authenticity, both on- and off-screen. Warriors Inc., Captain Dye’s military consultancy to the entertainment industry, has contributed to more than 50 film and television productions. As an actor, he’s appeared in titles ranging from Band of Brothers to Starship Troopers to JFK to Entourage

His role as technical advisor to Saving Private Ryan was the focus of a session during the Museum’s June 7, 2018, symposium marking the 20th anniversary of the acclaimed WWII drama. Watch the presentation below. 

Museum Senior Historian Rob Citino, the session’s moderator, questioned Dye extensively about the preproduction “boot camp” that director Steven Spielberg had Dye devise for the cast. 

“He said, ‘I want you to work ‘em out, shake ‘em out, make ‘em feel it,’” Dye said. “Interestingly, a big supporter was Tom Hanks, who really is a true believer. We had some people who did not want to do what I was putting them through. And we had this absolutely horsecrap British weather—cold, misting rain all the time. Everybody was soaked, they were living in the mud.”

Hanks, a longtime champion of The National WWII Museum who starred as the film’s Captain John H. Miller, “was the kind of kid . . . don’t ever give him an alarm clock, because he’ll take it apart in 15 seconds,” Dye said. “He’s got that kind of mind. I gave him a Thompson submachine gun, and I had to sit with him for an hour and go over every little part so that he knew exactly how that Thompson worked. And then I had to teach him land navigation—this is map-and-compass stuff . . . way too much training for what was required of him (for) one scene in the movie. But Tom wanted to know all of it. 

“He has that kind of mind-set. Among plenty of phonies in Hollywood, he’s not. He’s the real thing.”