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In ‘Masters of the Air’ and elsewhere, Anthony Boyle rises to the challenge

Anthony Boyle in "Masters of the Air."Apple TV+

“Masters of the Air,” Apple TV+’s follow-up to World War II miniseries “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific,” will release the fourth of nine episodes on Friday. So far, a lot of the action has been set in the tinny, cramped B-17s, so claustrophobic and terrifying.

As someone who needs to pop a pill in order to get on a plane, I was riveted by Anthony Boyle’s performance as navigator Harry Crosby, who is also the series narrator. There are excruciating scenes of Crosby puking into a paper bag, sweating, trying to function while nausea and anxiety consume him. You can feel his horror, aware that the direction of the plane is in his shaking, clammy hands. Boyle captures the unreality of it all, and while it’s at times hard to know who’s who behind the air masks on the show, he is always distinct.


I’ve admired Boyle since I first saw him in HBO’s 2020 alternate-history miniseries “The Plot Against America,” as the nephew who enlists in the Canadian military just before Charles Lindbergh wins the presidential election. He has a strong presence — and yet a quiet presence at the same time. I was surprised to learn that he is Irish; his American accents are flawless.

Boyle has another high-profile TV miniseries on the way. “Manhunt,” which premieres on Apple TV+ on March 15, is about the search for John Wilkes Booth after he assassinates Abe Lincoln. Boyle plays Booth, with costars Tobias Menzies, Matt Walsh, Brandon Flynn, Patton Oswalt, and Hamish Linklater and Lili Taylor as Abe and Mary Todd Lincoln.

Anthony Boyle in "The Plot Against America."Michele K. Short/HBO

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at matthew.gilbert@globe.com. Follow him @MatthewGilbert.