Clint Eastwood will begin filming his new film The 15:17 To Paris, a true story of a terrorist plot in 2015 that was foiled by three American travelers, in Georgia on August 1, The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports. The three heroes of the story, Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, and Spencer Stone, will be heroes on screen as well, as Eastwood has reportedly made a last minute decision to reach out to the three men and request that they play themselves, a move that AP calls “almost entirely unprecedented.”
With films like American Sniper and Sully, Eastwood has shown his passion for telling true heroic stories on the big screen. This is the first film of his, however, to use the subjects of the movie as the the stars themselves. This speaks to the nature of the film, as The Washington Times reports that the film will tell the story of the three men’s friendship from childhood until the day that made them heroes to the public. The film is also based on the book The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Heroes which was co-authored by the three friends as well.
The three men became celebrities in August 2015 when they found themselves on a certain train to paris while traveling through Europe. They were on the titular 15:17 train and, reportedly frustrated by the lackluster Wi-Fi, they decided to change their seats. That’s when they heard gunshots. A heavily-armed gunman had opened fire on the train, which was carrying 500 passengers at the time. The men say they sprung into action and, along with two others, were able to tackle the gunman, Ayoub El Khazzani, while he reloaded his AK-47. At a press conference, Spencer Stone talked about the event.
“He seemed like he was ready to fight to the end. So were we.”
He went on to say that the armed man was carrying two guns, a knife, and nine clips of ammunition. Due to the men’s heroics, only three people were injured.
All three were awarded the Legion of Honor by the French government, which is the highest honor given in France. They were also honored by President Obama.
Sadler, Skarlatos, and Stone are not professional actors, but Clint Eastwood reportedly made the decision at “the 11th hour” to have the men play themselves after prior casting decisions had been made. Alek Skarlatos’ mother weighed in on the casting decision, as reported by the Register-Guard.
“As I understand, it was a last-minute thought that these boys would play themselves. I guess no one can be more authentic at being you than you.”
[Featured Image by Matthias Nareyek/Getty Images]