15:17 to Paris: Real-Life Heroes Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos on Making Eastwood’s Movie

The 15:17 to Paris, directed by Clint Eastwood

Interviews with Heroes-Stars Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos

Making the Movie

Alek: It’s honestly just been like a roller coaster, our whole lives, since the terrorist attack. It’s just been a lot of ups and a lot of downs, but we have just been incredibly lucky and we are just grateful, not only for just having survived the terrorist attack and for every day we have had since then, but just for all the opportunities that have come our way, we are just extremely happy to be here and doing the movie.

Anthony: I think we are still waiting to wake up. I think we still think we are dreaming still and it seems pretty surreal, even having the film out and having shot it already, and just coming up on the release date for the world to see, it’s a pretty surreal moment for us, even to this day.

Spencer: This is just crazy. This whole experience, the last two years, this is something that you never thought would have happened or come into. And every day that we have had since the attack has just been an extra day for us and a blessing. And so we are just enjoying our life and taking it one day a time.

Being Directed by Eastwood

Alek: We have no experience in Hollywood, so he made things very easy for us and he’s a down to earth guy and we have been fans of his movies since we were little. And especially coming off of “Sully” and “American Sniper,” we just felt that there couldn’t have been a better person to do it and we are incredibly grateful to him for doing it and I really don’t think it could have worked out any other way, especially with us playing ourselves.

Anthony: The thing about having Mr. Eastwood direct the film was that we had an enormous amount of trust in him right from the get go and there was no question that we wanted him as soon as he presented everything to us. We knew he would take our story and tell it authentically and truthfully and that’s what we really wanted, and he made us true partners in the making of the film the whole entire way, I mean from the very beginning and then writing the script. We made several edits and then three weeks before we started filming, he asked us to play ourselves in the movie. How much more involved can we get than that? And then we pretty much are onset consultants and anytime there was a question of what might have happened, he had us right there to correct it. He really gave us the freedom and kind of the power in a way, to step up and say something without feeling like we were overstepping our boundaries.

Spencer: I think that is a credit to Mr. Eastwood, because he didn’t have to do that, he could have directed the story and made the film that he wanted to make. But from the very beginning, he told us that he just wanted to capture what happened and tell our story. And the thing we wanted the most, the three of us didn’t want to see the picture and not be happy with it because it’s still our story, it’s so personal. And as soon as we watched it for the first time with Mr. Eastwood, he kind of looked at us like what did you think, and we looked at each other and we were just speechless, and it was a feeling of just like thanks. Cause to see your life story on camera and have it captured correctly, it’s just priceless.

Reliving True Experience

Spencer:  Surprisingly enough, it was actually pretty fun for us.  Because even though it was as traumatic event, we turned it into a very positive thing in our lives I guess.  And also not did we get to play ourselves, Mark Megalian, the man who got shot on the train, got to play himself and his wife.  And Chris Norman, the British man, got to play himself and some of the same train employees and same policemen and the same medical team that brought us off the train.  So it was really everyone that was there, and it was kind of like a big reunion and we got to hash things out.  And what makes it positive for us and the unique thing about our story  is that no one died, not even the terrorists, and I think that’s pretty rare.  But the scene of me crawling over to Mark, was probably the only time that I had like a true flashback because I mean, it’s Mark, and we are wearing the same clothes and we are on the same train, they recreated our injuries, it’s the same amount of blood, we are saying literally the same things we said to each other on the day of the attack, and I just completely, and Mark did too, I completely forgot that anyone was there.  And I felt like I was truly reliving that exact moment.  And once Clint Eastwood said cut, and we only did that take once or twice, and I kind of said to myself, oh, there’s people in the room.  And then I looked up, and Clint Eastwood is standing right in front of me looking at the monitor, and he has this facial expression that I will never forget, and it’s kind of hard to describe.  And I looked behind him and saw the rest of the crew, and everyone had the same exact facial expression as Clint Eastwood.  And I was standing up and me and Mark looked at each other and it was like whoa.  There was a weird energy throughout the train, and it was like that was reality and not fiction.  That happened to us and here we are, recreating it with Clint Eastwood.

Anthony: Yeah, for us being three young guys and friends all our life, we thought it was pretty cool beating up a terrorist the first time.  But then the second time we get to do it with Clint Eastwood, so we were like how cool is that?  It gets no better than that.

Alek: I think for us too, kind of going over the whole attack again, and figuring out all the little details of what happened that day, it was very therapeutic, and it kind of felt like we were telling our story one last time for the movie in the biggest way that we could.  And then from then on, it would be kind of like closing a chapter in our lives and we could hopefully move on a little bit from it.

Impact of One Special Scene

The verite quality of the shoot left Spencer Stone unnerved in one particular sequence, in which he crawls over to Moogalian and presses his hand into his neck to stop the bleeding.

Spencer: “I had a true flashback. We’re wearing the same exact clothes. We’re on the same exact train moving toward Paris. Same amount of blood. They re-created our injuries. His wife is right there. And we’re saying the same exact words that we said to each other on the day of. We only did the scene once. And I remember forgetting that anyone else was in the room and feeling like I was back in time. Clint said, ‘That’s enough.’ And I just was like, ‘Wow. There are people in the room.’ I saw his face, and he was looking at the monitor, and I will never forget his facial expression. It was almost as if he was looking at the real thing. That was reality. That wasn’t fiction. That was us two years ago.”

End Note:

Spencer Stone had  signed with UTA for all areas–Jason Heyman represents him for acting. “I would love to make it a long career,” he says. “It’s such a cliché to say, ‘Do something you have fun with and it will never feel like work.’ But I feel like this is it. Clint blessed us with a new career. Any day after that terrorist attack is a blessing, and I feel like I’m living on borrowed time. So why not?”