Entertainment

’15:17 to Paris’ Heroes Talk Clint Eastwood, Divine Intervention, and Acting

Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler share life-changing moments with 'The Ingraham Angle'

“I love it when ordinary Americans do amazing things,” said former Utah congressman Jason Chaffetz, who filled in Friday night for host Laura Ingraham on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”

He was referring to EWTN managing editor Raymond Arroyo’s sit-down interview with the stars of Clint Eastwood’s new film, “15:17 to Paris.” The movie tells the story of three real-life American heroes — Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler — who stopped a potential terrorist attack on a train bound for Paris back in 2015. The three lifelong friends were on a long-planned vacation at the time.

Skarlatos, who is a National Guardsman, recalled how the crisis began to unfold, as he was the only one of the three initially awake.

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“I was just hanging out, texting some friends back home,” he told Arroyo. “And two hours, three hours into the trip, I heard a gunshot and breaking glass. I kind of put my head up because I wasn’t exactly sure what it was. While I was thinking about that, a train employee ran past us at a full sprint, so that woke them up sure enough.”

The three friends then saw a man with an AK-47.

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Spotting a terrorist with a gun, the three men now feared for their lives. Stone, a former U.S. Air Force staff sergeant, charged at the terrorist in a do-or-die moment.

“I just wanted to live,” Stone said. “It was pure survival. I caught him down the aisle at a point where he either jammed the gun or maybe the safety was on. All I knew is that he hadn’t started shooting yet. So I pretty much saw it as a window of opportunity. It was either now or never. I figured we were going to die, either way, so you might as well give it a shot. That’s what really sprung me out of my seat.”

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Although Sadler did not have the military experience of his two friends, he still felt it was his obligation to help them fight off the terrorist in the life-or-death scenario.

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“I think my motivation was [that they were] lifelong friends of mine,” he said. “I shut down my brain process and once they jumped into action, I just had to go help. It was an all-in or nothing situation, really.”

Related: Remarkable True Story Behind Clint Eastwood’s Latest Film

Skarlatos agreed when Arroyo asked the young men if they thought divine intervention was a factor in the outcome — all three friends survived that horrible situation intact.

“Out of all of the odds of us being there in that time and place and the circumstances that put us there and the circumstances of us surviving — that’s going to be in the movie, too,” Skarlatos said. “It’s just too astronomical to be a coincidence.”

What is especially unique about the film is that the men involved in taking down the terrorist play themselves in the film. This is not what they were initially expecting.

“Three weeks before we started shooting, we thought we were meeting the actors who were playing ourselves,” Sadler said. “He [Clint Eastwood] asked us, ‘Are you guys comfortable acting things out on camera?’ We said, ‘Sure, we’ll re-enact for accuracy.’ He said it again and then he said we ‘should just do it’ ourselves.”

“It felt like he was really invested in us, and he really wants to see us do well,” Sadler said, “so we all want to continue to pursue acting for sure.”

Prior to this movie, none of the three young men had acted. When Arroyo asked if any of them had even been in a school play, they said no. That said — things could change now that the trio had a positive experience shooting a film with Eastwood.

“It felt like he was really invested in us, and he really wants to see us do well,” Sadler said, “so we all want to continue to pursue acting for sure.”

Related: Veteran on Thwarting Terror Train Attack: It Was ‘Gut Response’

In an era in which Hollywood is being exposed for its massive sex abuse scandals over the years, these bright young men bring honor, integrity and decency to an otherwise toxic industry. The American entertainment industry would benefit from having more people like Skarlatos, Stone and Sadler be part of its ranks.

Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, ESPN, and other outlets. 

Tom Joyce
meet the author

Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, ESPN, and other outlets.

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