Anthony Sadler, Oregon National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos and US Air Force Airman First Class Spencer Stone were traveling through Europe when they overpowered a man with an AK-47 on a Paris-bound service carrying more than 500 passengers.
“Eastwood began a wide-ranging search for the actors who would portray the three Americans. The studio and Eastwood made their choices but at the 11th hour decided to have Sadler, Skarlatos and Stone portray themselves,” Variety magazine reported on Tuesday.
The film follows the course of the friends’ lives, from the struggles of childhood through finding their footing to the series of unlikely events leading up to the thwarted attack.
They leapt into action and stopped heavily armed Ayoub El Khazzani from completing an attack on the train from Brussels on August 21, 2015.
The three have since been hailed as heroes both in the United States and in France, where they were awarded the Legion of Honor, the country’s highest decoration.
Starring alongside the real-life heroes are Jenna Fischer (“Hall Pass,” TV’s “The Office”) and Judy Greer (“War for the Planet of the Apes”) and Ray Corasani, the Hollywood Reporter said.
Eastwood’s last two films — “Sully” and “American Sniper” — were also about real-life heroics, but this is the first time he has used real life people to play their characters.
He directs from a screenplay by Dorothy Blyskal, based on the book “The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Heroes,” by Sadler, Skarlatos, Stone and Jeffrey E. Stern.
Eastwood, 87, is also co-producing the Warner Bros. film.