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Clint Eastwood casts real-life American heroes in film about thwarted terror attack in Paris

Actor, producer, and director Clint Eastwood is casting the real-life American heroes who stopped a terrorist from attacking a Paris-bound train in August 2015 in a movie about the harrowing event. (Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images)

Legendary actor, director, and producer Clint Eastwood is turning heads with his latest decision to cast the three American heroes who thwarted a 2015 terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train as themselves in a movie about the harrowing event.

Eastwood, in what Variety described as an “unconventional move,” has hired real-life heroes civilian Anthony Sadler, Oregon National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, and Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone for the film, “The 15:17 to Paris,” which chronicles the true story of the three men who successfully stopped an Islamic terrorist from attacking a train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris on Aug. 21, 2015.

After Eastwood and the movie studio conducted a lengthy search for actors, the well-known producer decided at the last minute to hire the Skarlatos, Sadler, and Stone to play themselves in the forthcoming movie.

The casting decision is similar to Eastwood’s 2008 blockbuster “Gran Torino,” which featured an almost entirely unknown cast aside from Eastwood himself, who played a leading role in the movie.

“The 15:17 to Paris” is based on a book of the same title by Sadler, Skarlatos, Stone, and Jeffrey E. Stern.

Sources told Variety that the three real-life heroes will have sizable roles in the movie, but noted that the film is likely to begin during their childhood and show their friendship leading up to their defining moment, so their roles will not be considered full-on leads.

Sadler, Skarlatos, and Stone made headlines around the world in the summer 2015, when they successfully subdued suspected Islamic terrorist Ayoub el-Khazzani, according to the Washington Post.

Roughly 30 minutes after the train pulled out of Amsterdam, the men unwittingly switched to the car where the shooter would open fire moments later. With the help of two other men, the three Americans jumped into action — they tackled Khazzani, who was wielding a knife, two guns, and nine clips of ammunition, and disarmed him.

After they restrained Khazzani, the trio began tending to those who were wounded. The three men were recognized and honored by both the French and U.S. governments for their brave service.

Before ultimately deciding to produce a film about the three American heroes, Eastwood was considering a number of other inspiring stories, including “Impossible Odds,” the story of humanitarian worker Jessica Buchanan, who was kidnapped while working in Somalia and later saved by a team of Navy SEALs.

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