Clint Eastwood has revealed movie bosses weren’t “overly enthusiastic” about his plans to cast real-life heroes in his new film The 15:17 To Paris.
The movie chronicles Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler’s heroic efforts in August, 2015, when the childhood friends thwarted a terror attack on board a train from Amsterdam, Holland, to Paris, France.
Eastwood picked up the rights to their book, The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Heroes, after meeting the fellow Americans at Spike TV’s 2016 Guys Choice Awards, where the Dirty Harry legend honored the men for their bravery, and it was then that he began wondering if the trio would consider acting out their own story onscreen.
“They knew all the parts, they knew the dialogue,” Eastwood told breakfast show Today. “As I was looking for actors and I was interviewing some really good ones, I kept thinking, ‘I wonder if…'”
He proposed the idea to production bosses at Warner Bros., but it took a little convincing to get their full support, particularly as Stone, Skarlatos, and Sadler had absolutely no prior acting experience.
“They weren’t overly enthusiastic in the beginning,” the actor-turned-director admitted, “but they came around fast.”
However, even his movie subjects were a little apprehensive at first about taking on starring roles.
“When he first presented the idea to us, we didn’t really understand,” Stone explained. “We were confused, and that’s when we were like, ‘Oh, he’s asking us to play ourselves!’ We all looked at each other and were like, ‘Oh, we’re doing this!'”
Even so, Sadler confesses it took some time to get used to having Eastwood as their boss: “He’s an icon, so we went into it kinda intimidated, thinking it was gonna be this tense environment…”
Referencing Eastwood’s famous scowl from the Dirty Harry franchise, he continued, “We didn’t wanna catch that look, so we made sure every day to come in prepared and he made the whole environment chill, so it was fun.”
And Eastwood was thrilled to have his plans for the project come together.
“There’s a habit of calling everybody heroes, but these guys are the real deal…,” he praised.
The 15:17 to Paris hits theaters this week (ends09Feb18).