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A Faith Conversation with The 15:17 to Paris Heroes

The 15:17 to Paris movie poster
Movie Info
 

RATING:

PG-13 for bloody images, violence, some suggestive material, drug references and language

GENRES:

Drama, History, Thriller

RELEASE:

February 9, 2018

STARRING:

Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, Jenna Fischer, Judy Greer, Thomas Lennon, Jaleel White, Tony Hale

DIRECTOR:

Clint Eastwood

DISTRIBUTOR:

Warner Bros.

More on this movie at IMDb.com

Hannah Goodwyn - Senior Producer

Friends ever since they met at a Christian middle school in California, Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler always felt like their lives were leading up to something big. Little did they know that on August 21, 2015, while traveling in Europe, they'd come face to face with a terrorist on a train bound for Paris.

Their life stories and how they stopped that Thalys train attack are the focus of Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood's new feature, The 15:17 to Paris, in which the three American heroes play themselves.

Recently, Stone, Skarlatos, and Sadler sat down with CBN.com to talk about what really happened on the train that day, God's protection on them, and the message they want to share with the world. Here are excerpts from that candid conversation:

Hannah Goodwyn: Fight or flight, usually people are one or the other. Seems you guys are definitely fight. Is that who you are or was that day a special circumstance?

Anthony Sadler: What I think about fight or flight is it all depends on the circumstance. For us, we didn't have many choices. So, it was kind of fight or flight in that situation, literally those two choices. And flight didn't even sound that good because you still could have been shot. Spencer said before that his motivation was to get up and do something in spite of. So, I think that was our motivation for sure that day.

Goodwyn: Warner Bros.' The 15:17 to Paris production notes talk about how people of faith have a little bit of an edge because they have the confidence of a higher power behind them. But even for people of faith, fear can be crippling. Was there no hesitation during the train attack? You just felt this rush to go?

Spencer Stone: I mean, I was scared. Don't get me wrong. There was definitely fear in this. But, what it really came down to was that I just saw an opportunity. He hadn't started shooting yet. I figured if we were going to do anything this was the best moment to do it and it was going to give us the most time. That's what got me out of my seat; because I said if we wait any longer, it's going to be too late. So, just got to go. And then, obviously, my faith has a lot to do with that as well.

Goodwyn: So how much was it, do you think, adrenaline versus, 'yeah, let's do this' kind of faith?

Sadler: I think it was all adrenaline. I'd never felt adrenaline like that. I don't even feel like I closed my eyes for 24 hours after that. It was that intense. It was truly by definition a life or death situation. It was a life or death fight for the minute to two minutes that it was.

Goodwyn: What has this done for your friendship?

Stone: Solidified, strengthened, everything.

Sadler: Cemented it.

Alek Skarlatos: Yeah. If there was going to be any doubt that we were going to be friends for the rest of our lives, now we kind of have to be.

[laughter]

Skarlatos: We're pretty much attached at the hip. It's like, oh, not only are you guys friends, but now you guys are business partners.

Goodwyn: And co-stars.

Skarlatos: Exactly.

Stone: Co-stars. I like that.

Goodwyn: What was your first reaction to the idea of acting in Clint Eastwood's movie as yourselves?

Skarlatos: Well, we were shocked. We never thought anything like that would happen. I mean, we went down to LA that time to, we thought, meet who was going to play us, because it was going to film in three weeks. And when he asked us that, I mean, we were just shocked. Excited and we said yes right off the bat, but totally shocked and then the reality of the situation set in. So then, we're like, we don't want to disappoint.

Stone: I say this a lot, but my head was literally buzzing. I just could not believe it.

Goodwyn: Did it stop buzzing at any point?

Stone: It didn't stop buzzing ‘til the next day.

Sadler: No, it's still buzzing.

Stone: It was another 24-hour little episode in my head.

Sadler: I was just in disbelief. I thought he was joking at first and then I looked at him, and he was serious. I was just like, 'but why?' This doesn't happen. We already thought we were going to get good actors and that was going to be everything. Like, 'oh, we got a name I recognize to play us in the movie. That's going to be cool'. Going from that to, 'no, it'll be you.' It was a mind blowing type of situation.

Goodwyn: In other interviews, you guys have talked about how important it is that you get your message out there, and that this was a God-given opportunity that gave you a platform to speak to a lot of people. What is your message?

Stone: That we're three ordinary guys, and I think people will be able to identify with that in the film. We were put in an extraordinary situation and we just had no other choice, but to act in the way we did. We want people to take from the story that we are ordinary and that they're capable of doing something extraordinary to overcome the obstacles in their life as well. It's not just something that's within us. We wanted to portray ourselves as ordinary, because we are ordinary. People identify with that and think that if they find themselves in a terrorist situation or maybe just any other obstacle maybe at school or whatever, they can overcome it. They're capable of doing something extraordinary.

Skarlatos: I think that's the cool thing about this movie is that there's so many themes that you can draw from it. Just like I said, even the importance of friendship and maintaining friendships, the importance of having good friends and trusting each other. Especially for us watching it, there's so many life lessons that we can see that we learned along the way and skills that we learned that all came into play that day, you know. Like they said, it's like our whole life was leading up to that moment without us even realizing it.

Goodwyn: The Bible's full of stories about ordinary people doing the extraordinary, about overcoming fear with faith, about faith in action.

Skarlatos: Yeah, People are capable of doing crazy things, but it's with the backing of having the hand of God on you.

Stone: He'll put you in situations, but [God] doesn't put you in a situation that He knows you can't handle. He's going to give you the tools and the resources to...

Skarlatos: You might not think you can handle it.

Stone: Yeah, you might not think you can, but He's going to give you everything you need. And at the end of the day, you can have everything right in front of you. But, you, as a person, still need to make that choice to put the action in.

Goodwyn: I know you guys felt God in this situation. Did you feel it during filming too and what you had to accomplish on set?

Skarlatos: Even more so.

Sadler: I feel like Clint doesn't know it, but I feel like God was kind of in His ear with this whole situation, too, because I feel like—I mean, that just doesn't happen. I credit Clint with having the great idea. But you know, deep down inside I think God kind of whispered in his ear. I feel like not only did it happen to us, but we're responsible for telling the story now. This could have turned into actors and it kind of would have become their stories...

Stone: Everyone thinks of Mark Wahlberg.

Sadler: Yeah.

Stone: Or Tom Hanks.

Sadler: There's a reason why all that happened the way it did. So, I think we're on the path that God has for us, really.

Goodwyn: Was there any moment during filming where you just had to stop and reflect on what happened?

Skarlatos: Honestly, for me anyway, it was like not when we were actually filming. We were actually talking with one of the producers about the train scene and how we were going to do it. He was telling us about all of these reports that he got from the train company. There was one that was about when Mark [Moogalian] got shot in the neck with the bullet. It came out of his neck and flew in between Spencer's and my head by about a foot high and hit the wall in front of us. And it just blew my mind, because here we are two years after the event, still learning new, crazy things about how God was watching out for us.... God's always been watching out for us with even the train attack, the book, the movie, our lives leading up to that and definitely since then. There was a shooting at my college. Spencer got stabbed again. We've just had the craziest lives, good and bad. And you can't live a life like that and not see something working behind the scenes.

Stone: Especially since my stabbing, the second stabbing after the terrorist attack, there was a kid that died next to me in the other room of pneumonia. He was only 18 years old. I survived a terrorist attack and got stabbed another four times, literally stabbed in the heart and somehow I'm going to be 100 percent OK. That was the first time I ever really got super emotional and cried, because I was just like, 'man, obviously God still has a plan for us here.' We were meant to be there on that train, but He's still got work for us.

The 15:17 to Paris is rated PG-13 and opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, February 9, 2018.

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