Heroes of Paris train attack speak at LU

On that August day, the trio was riding on a Thalys train headed towards the French capital when a man armed with an assault rifle and pistol opened fire, wounding a passenger.

Those of you who are aware of The 15:17 to Paris - if you are aware of it at all - would probably also be aware of its gimmick: Eastwood made the curious decision to cast real-life heroes Spencer Stone, Alec Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler to play themselves. "I turn around and see the terrorist coming into the train auto, picking the AK-47 off the ground and lowering a round into the chamber", Spencer Stone, plays self in 15:17 to Paris, said. They are separated when Alek moves to OR to live with his father and Anthony changes schools, but the three stay in touch as Anthony attends college and Alek and Spencer enlist in the military. They also discussed their shared Christian faith and working with Hollywood legend director Clint Eastwood. "Getting over the nerves of meeting someone like him, that's hard". Just a couple of weeks ago we saw The Post, in which Steven Spielberg did not hesitate to make his disapproval of the current Donald Trump administration known. "He can get down to anyone's level". "I just want you to go out there and be natural and do it how it happened'". "It doesn't take military experience or knowledge to do what we did", he said. "There isn't some special trait the three of us have".

The real life bravery of Stone, Skarlatos, and Sadler is not celebrated in their avatars as actors on screen. (Eastwood declined to speak for this story.) While chatting offstage, Eastwood agreed to read their upcoming book. We're not joking. How does it all pan out?

Sadler said it was like a reunion. And on the surface, I can understand Eastwood's passion for telling the story of how three friends thwarted an nearly certain terrorism-style massacre on a European train in August of 2015.

They look and sound like they're reciting lines they memorized, which, of course, is exactly what they did for the film. Even when Eastwood asked them to re-enact the train attack - rather like an audition - they assumed it was to nail down details for the actors. "We don't really look at is as a traumatic thing because no-one died", Stone said.

And now? Besides hoping to meet actress Margot Robbie eventually, all three are going to try their hand at acting professionally. Or we could do it and risk it.

Unlike the silhouettes of the sundry gunslingers he played for decades, Clint Eastwood is an American artist who refuses to watch the sun set on him, preferring instead to rage, with wild intelligence and a bit of boiling contempt, against the dying of the light. "It was too fascinating of an opportunity to turn down". Eastwood, famous for avoiding extensive rehearsals and retakes, doesn't demand too much acting. "We would all love to jump in and play different characters", Sadler says. "And that's what we did".

Even the fear of public speaking has withered away, Skarlatos said, as he addressed the audience. On his first day, he recalls, he filmed a scene in Afghanistan that required him to rummage through a Humvee filled with rucksacks.

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"After surviving the terrorist attack, it kind of cured a lot of fears that I had", Skarlatos said. "And it was all I could do to keep from laughing".

Clint Eastwood: "It's just something about regular people doing irregular things". There's honestly not a lot of narrative objective to those flash-forwards, and one has to wonder what this would have looked like without them; probably still boring as hell, but at least a little more competently told.

And what about filming the climactic train attack? Two other passengers were wounded and the attacker was arrested when the train stopped.

"We know that bringing in great talent from around the world is an enormous benefit, not just to the companies that want to do that, but to Canadian jobs and to our country as a whole, so we're going to continue to do that", he said. He and the crew make things easy for you.

He adds, "It was like a big reunion, and it was great to act everything out again".

"It doesn't have to be terrorists on a train, but it could be anything they face in their own life", he said.

Another divine moment that saved Stone's and Skarlatos' lives was when El Khazzani dropped his handgun magazine after he shot Moogalian.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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