Paris train at­tack he­roes will play them­selves in Clint East­wood film

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Travis M. An­drews

Clint East­wood seems to be end­ing his ca­reer by mak­ing films about peo­ple many con­sider real-life he­roes, as ev­i­denced by “Sully” and “Amer­i­can Sniper.”

Of course, in true Hol­ly­wood tra­di­tion, ac­tors played the lead roles — Tom Hanks as Ch­es­ley “Sully” Sul­len­berger and Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, the sniper.

His next film fol­lows a sim­i­lar pat­tern. “The 15:17 to Paris” will present the true story of the three young Cal­i­for­nia men, in­clud­ing a Na­tional Guards­man and a U.S. Air­man, who stopped a sus­pected ISIS ter­ror­ist at­tack on a train trav­el­ing from Brus­sels to Paris in 2015. Only this time, in an rare Hol­ly­wood move, the he­roes will play them­selves in the movie.

An­thony Sadler, Alek Skar­latos and Spencer Stone, the three men who thwarted the at­tack, will join a cast of sea­soned ac­tors in­clud­ing Jenna Fis­cher, Judy Greer and Ray Carasani, Va­ri­ety re­ported.

The movie is based off a book the three men cowrote about their ex­pe­ri­ence, ti­tled “The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Ter­ror­ist, a Train, and Three Amer­i­can He­roes.”

The three, friends since mid­dle school, were trav­el­ing in Europe when they found them­selves on a high-speed train with a heav­ily armed man named Ay­oub el-Khaz­zani, a sus­pected Is­lamist mil­i­tant, at­tempt­ing a mass shoot­ing on Aug. 21, 2015.

And they helped stop it, all be­cause they de­cided to switch seats. As The Wash­ing­ton Post’s Michael Birn­baum wrote days after the thwarted at­tack:

“‘We de­cided to get up be­cause the WiFi wasn’t so good on that car,’ said Sadler, 23, a col­lege stu­dent. ‘We were like, ‘We have a ticket to first class. We might as well go sit in first class.’

“About half an hour after the train pulled away from Am­s­ter­dam, they switched to the car where the shooter soon opened fire, he said.

“Along with two other men, they tack­led, then dis­armed, a sus­pected Is­lamist mil­i­tant who packed two guns, a knife and nine clips of am­mu­ni­tion into his ruck­sack.

“‘He seemed like he was ready to fight to the end. So were we,’ said Air­man 1st Class Spencer Stone, his left arm in a sling, his right eye blood­shot and wa­ter­ing.”

Even­tu­ally, they tied up el-Khaz­zani and be­gan tend­ing to the wounded.

Stone then “saw that an­other pas­sen­ger had been se­verely wounded by a bul­let dur­ing the at­tack and was ‘squirt­ing blood’ from his neck. Stone said he barely felt any of his own in­juries, so he fo­cused on sav­ing the other vic­tim’s life. He stuck two of his fin­gers into the pas­sen­ger’s wound to hold an artery closed un­til paramedics showed up.”

Their ac­tions were met with world­wide praise. They were pub­licly lauded by then-Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, who in­vited them to the White House, and they re­ceived the Le­gion of Honor, France’s high­est dec­o­ra­tion, from former French Pres­i­dent François Hol­lande.

Skar­latos even com­peted on “Danc­ing with the Stars,” where he opened up about his crush on dancer Emma Slater.

They also re­ceived a book deal, and their story was pub­lished on the first an­niver­sary of the thwarted at­tack. Perseus Books Group, the book’s pub­lisher, de­scribed it as “the grip­ping true story of a ter­ror­ist at­tack that would have killed more than 500 peo­ple if not for their ac­tions, but it is also the story of three Amer­i­can boys, their friend­ship, and the val­ues we hold dear.”

“I never thought I’d be writ­ing a book,” Stone told The Post’s Ron Charles in 2016. “Peo­ple kept telling us, ‘You guys should write a book.’ We were like, ‘What are we go­ing to make a book about?’ We can’t make a whole book about a two-minute fight.”

But the book fo­cuses on more than the fight. It fol­lows the three friends’ in­ter­twin­ing lives, of­ten flash­ing back to their child­hoods.

Like­wise, the movie will fol­low the three young men’s lives over many years.

The film does not yet have a re­lease date.

Carl Costas, As­so­ci­ated Press file

From left: Alek Skar­latos, U.S. Air­man Spencer Stone and An­thony Sadler at­tend a May 2015 pa­rade in their honor.

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