In a surprise last-minute decision, Clint Eastwood has decided to reverse course and cast real-life heroes Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone as themselves in his next movie THE 15:17 TO PARIS, the Tracking Board has confirmed.
Before changing his mind and going in a different direction, Eastwood appeared to have settled on Kyle Gallner, Jeremie Harris and Alexander Ludwig as his three leads, as first reported by the Tracking Board. The swap is the kind of move that only someone like Eastwood could make, given his long-standing relationship with Warner Bros, which is putting a lot of faith in the Oscar-winning director.
The 15:17 to Paris is based on the true story of Sadler, Skarlatos and Stone — three Americans who thwarted a terrorist attack on a train traveling from Brussels to Paris. The heroic trio were lauded for their bravery, and their story was covered by the international press.
While it remains to be seen whether the American heroes can actually, you know, act, their casting is a brilliant move on Eastwood’s part, at least from a marketing perspective. It’s a lot easier to sell three real heroes than three little-known actors, as it makes for a much sexier story, especially at a time when there seems to be more superheroes than real heroes on the big screen.
Sadler, Skarlatos, Stone have an edge on any actors that might have played them, seeing as they lived through the real events and then teamed with Jeffrey E. Stern to write a book chronicling their experience, which will serve as the basis for Eastwood’s film. Screenwriter Dorothy Blyskal adapted the book.
The three heroes will essentially play supporting roles in their own story, as the film is expected to follow them from childhood, when they first became friends, all the way up to that fateful day on the train that changed their lives forever.
Paul-Mikél Williams, Max Ivutin, Bryce Gheisar, Cole Eichenberger and William Jennings will play various younger versions of Sadler, Skarlatos, Stone, who will be joined in the film by professional actors Judy Greer, Jenna Fischer and Ray Corasani.
Eastwood is producing the thriller with Tim Moore, Kristina Rivera and Jessica Meier. The director is coming off back-to-back hits at Warner Bros., which released Sully to the tune of $240 million worldwide after taking in $547 million worldwide and a Best Picture nomination for American Sniper.
Variety broke the news, and a representative for Warner Bros. did not respond to a request for comment.
Jeff Sneider | Editor in Chief