For those of us who devoured our Band of Brothers boxsets in the 2000s, we all remember Easy Company finally getting to the Eagle’s Nest, the retreat frequented by high-ranking Nazis (including Hitler) in the German Alps and raiding the wine cellar. It was a reward at the end of nine grueling episodes of watching our favorite soldiers freeze, starve, and be repeatedly traumatized in battle.
One of the perks of the beautiful Kehlsteinhaus location is a stunning lake, which Dick Winters (Damien Lewis) swims in at the start of Episode 10 of the HBO TV series. Although the episode is a chance for the soldiers to finally bask in luxury after enduring years of grueling warfare – the experience wasn’t quite so glamorous for Lewis.
He told Roger Bennett on the Band of Brothers podcast in 2021; “I’m glad I didn’t have my budgie smugglers on, although it wasn’t far off. Those 1940s high-cut shorts. It was very, very cold. In fact, I got hypothermic. We swam all day and I was only allowed in the water for a minute at a time. I was rubbed in goose fat in order to retain some heat.”
Lewis continued describing filming the final episode of the acclaimed drama series; “But of course, you’re never anywhere just for a minute when you’re filming. They say ‘can you just do one more lap?’ Before you knew what happened, you were there for three or four minutes. I had this curious sensation of being toweled down on the boat and my whole body started rattling.”
“I felt this ice-cold column right through the middle of my body, but my extremities felt warm. And then it did the complete reverse as the cold left and the warmth reappeared in the center column of my body. The rest of me then just started shaking, my extremities started shaking as they became freezing cold before I returned to a normal temperature. I was told later that that is the beginning of a hypothermic reaction. So, that’s how cold it was.”
It would have been ironic if Lewis had made it through years of filming grueling battle scenes only to expire when they made it to the glamorous location at the end. Band of Brothers will soon be landing on Netflix, and is still available on Max for you to discover (or rediscover). Check out our guide to the best war movies.