On August 21, 2015, three American friends were on vacation in Europe, taking a train ride from Amsterdam to Paris, when a terrorist opened fire inside their train compartment. Those three men were Anthony Sadler, Oregon National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, and U.S. Air Force Airman First Class Spencer Stone.
When the terrorist, armed with an AKM assault rifle, pistol, knife, and bottle of petrol, began his attack on the innocent train passengers, the three Americans jumped into action — heading towards the danger instead of running away from it. Airman First Class Spencer Stone tackled the gunman and wrestled him to the ground while Guardsman Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler helped disarm him. Spencer was injured by the knife, which cut him in several places and nearly severed his thumb off.
Once they subdued the terrorist, Spencer — despite his own injuries — used his Air Force medic training to help another man who was shot in the neck until first responders were able to get there. For their actions, France awarded all three men the Legion of Honor, the highest French order of merit, and each were awarded medals of valor back at home in the United States.
The heroic actions of the two service members and their friend had all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster — and actor/director Clint Eastwood thought so, too. Eastwood, known for his acting roles in movies like Unforgiven, Dirty Harry, and Gran Torino, has also been a film director for many years, directing and producing films including Pale Rider, Million Dollar Baby, and American Sniper. He is currently working on his latest film, titled 15:17 to Paris, which will tell the true story of Spencer, Skarlatos, and Sadler stopping the terrorist during the 2015 train attack.
Ironically enough, at a press conference at the time, Airman Spencer joked that if it were ever made into a movie, he knew who he would want to portray him: Denzel Washington. For director Clint Eastwood, however, there was only one obvious choice of action stars to cast in the film to portray the three heroes: themselves.
Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler will star in the film 15:17 to Paris as themselves, reenacting the events of that fateful day and their selfless actions which saved countless lives. “He seemed like he was ready to fight to the end,” Stone said of the event afterward. “So were we.”
The film, which is currently being filmed, will also include cast members such as Jenna Fischer (The Office), Judy Greer (13 Going On 30), and Tony Hale (Arrested Development). No release date has yet been announced by Warner Bros. Pictures.
After stopping the terrorist attack, Airman Stone was given a double promotion to the rank of Staff Sergeant and was awarded the Airman’s Medal and the Purple Heart; Guardsman Skarlatos was awarded the Soldier’s Medal, the Army’s highest award for peacetime valor; and Sadler was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Valor.
The film is based on a book of the same title written by Stone, Skarlatos, and Sadler. It will be the next in a series of films directed by Clint Eastwood portraying true stories of American heroism, including American Sniper, the story of Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, in 2014 and Sully, the story of the successful emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River by Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger.
With the addition of the real life heroes and veterans in the film, 15:17 to Paris looks like it will be a must-watch for movie and military fans everywhere.
Jacob H. is an award-winning journalist and photojournalist who currently resides is West Michigan with his wife. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys writing, photography, mountain climbing, and camping.