Eastwood Taps Real-Life American Heroes To Play Themselves In Hollywood Film

Entertainment
U.S. Army Spc. Alek Skarlatos, U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler walk down stairs during a ceremony honoring the three men, at the Pentagon, Sept. 17, 2015.
DoD photo by Army Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp

The three California men who famously thwarted a terror attack on a Paris-bound train in 2015 will play themselves in an upcoming film directed by Clint Eastwood about the incident, the Associated Press reports.


The 15:17 to Paris, which began production this week, marks the acting debuts of Anthony Sadler, Alex Skarlatos, and Spencer Stone, who grew up together in the Sacramento area. The film will tell their story from childhood to the evening they helped subdue a heavily armed Moroccan man who open fired inside a train in France, garnering international recognition as heroes credited with saving countless lives amid a wave of spectacular Islamist terrorist attacks that rocked Europe.

All three men were awarded the Legion of Honor, the highest French order of merit, for their actions. Stone, who was a senior airman in the U.S. Air Force at the time, also received the Airman’s Medal, as well as the Purple Heart for stab wounds he sustained during the altercation with the gunman, and a rare double-promotion to staff sergeant. Skarlatos, an Oregon Army National Guardsman and Afghan War veteran, received the Soldier’s Medal, the U.S. Army’s highest award for peacetime valor, from President Barack Obama, while Sadler, a civilian, was bestowed the Secretary of Defense Medal for Valor.

Eastwood made the decision to cast the trio at the last minute, despite a wide-ranging search that yielded plenty of options for actors to play them, according to Variety. The film is based on a book of the same name, which the men co-wrote, and continues a trend for Eastwood, who recently directed two other films based on the true stories of American pop heroes: American Sniper, about venerated Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, and Sully, about celebrated pilot Chesley Sullenberger. However, both Kyle and Sullenberger were played by famous actors.   

Sadler, Skarlatos, and Stone were vacationing in Europe at the time of the attack on August 21, 2015. Stone was reportedly the first person to tackle Ayoub El Khazzani, who has ties to radical Islam, authorities say. Khazzani was armed with an AK-47, a pistol, and a box cutter, which he used to slash Stone in the ensuing struggle. As the trio fought to subdue Khazzani, Skarlatos beat him unconscious with the butt of his own rifle. Remarkably, no one on the train was killed.   

Stone would later appear in headlines again after he was brutally stabbed by a stranger outside a bar in Sacramento, while Skarlatos appeared as a contestant on Dancing With the Stars, which appears to be the closest thing any of the three has ever done to acting. As the Associated Press notes, Warner Bros., the studio producing The 15:17 to Paris, did not elaborate on what prompted Eastwood to cast the trio. Other actors have been tapped to play younger versions of them.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Spencer Stone was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force at the time of the thwarted terror attack. He was, in fact, a senior airman, and was subsequently promoted to staff sergeant for his heroics, according to Air Force Times. (7/12/2017, 2:01pm EST)  

WATCH NEXT:

Task & Purpose

I don't always drop everything to spend a few hours with a short, squat Marine, but when I do, you can bet it's for Chesty.

Read More Show Less
A U.S. Army Soldier assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, Fort Wainwright, Alaska, consoles a fellow Soldier after sleeping on the ground in a designated sleeping area on another cold evening, between training exercises during NTC 17-03, National Training Center, Ft. Irwin, CA., Jan. 15, 2017. (U.S. Army/Spc. Tracy McKithern)

The Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) is the largest official database of U.S. military media available for public consumption. It is also an occasional source of unexpected laughs, like this gem from a live fire exercise that a public affairs officer simply tagged 'Fire mortar boom.' In the world of droll data entry and too many acronyms, sometimes little jokes are their own little form of rebellion, right?

But some DVIDS uploads, however, come with captions and titles that cut right to the core, perfectly capturing the essence of life in the U.S. military in a way that makes you sigh, facepalm, and utter a mournful, 'too real.'

Read More Show Less

The U.S. military does not need Iraqi permission to fly close air support and casualty evacuation missions for U.S. troops in combat, a top spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS clarified on Tuesday.

Army Col. James Rawlinson clarified that the Iraqis do not need to approve missions in emergency circumstances after Task & Purpose reported on Monday that the U.S. military needed permission to fly CAS missions for troops in a fight.

Read More Show Less
Photo illustration by Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

It all began with a medical check.

Carson Thomas, a healthy and fit 20-year-old infantryman who had joined the Army after a brief stint in college, figured he should tell the medics about the pain in his groin he had been feeling. It was Feb. 12, 2012, and the senior medic looked him over and decided to send him to sick call at the base hospital.

It seemed almost routine, something the Army doctors would be able to diagnose and fix so he could get back to being a grunt.

Now looking back on what happened some seven years later, it was anything but routine.

Read More Show Less
The Armed Forces Service Medal has a green, blue and yellow ribbon and a bronze medal featuring a torch like that held by the Statue of Liberty. (U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared onMilitary.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Thousands of U.S. service members who've been sent to operate along the Mexico border will receive a military award reserved for troops who "encounter no foreign armed opposition or imminent hostile action."

The Pentagon has authorized troops who have deployed to the border to assist U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) since last April to receive the Armed Forces Service Medal. Details about the decision were included in a Marine Corps administrative message in response to authorization from the Defense Department.

There is no end date for the award since the operation remains ongoing.

Read More Show Less