'The 15:17 to Paris': 6 of the Film's Stars and Their Real-Life Counterparts

8:15 AM 2/9/2018

by Deirdre Durkan

The drama, based on true events, chronicles how three American friends subdued a lone gunman who was armed with 300 rounds of ammunition on a crowded train from Amsterdam to Paris.

Based on a true story, The 15:17 to Paris follows the events that preceded a foiled terrorist attack on an Aug. 21, 2015, train bound for the French capital.

Three American friends, Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone — who were on a tour through Europe — disarmed and subdued an ISIS-affiliated lone gunman who had planned a massacre on the crowded train.

The film’s director, Clint Eastwood, cast the real-life heroes to play themselves. So in their cases, the headline — "counterparts" — might not be entirely accurate. However, there are several professional actors involved as well. Jenna Fischer, Judy Greer and Ray Corasani also star in the movie, which was adapted from the book — co-written by Stone, Sadler and Skarlatos — The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train and Three American Heroes.

In addition to the onboard action, 15:17 to Paris will focus on the backstories of the three childhood friends.

Before the drama pulls into theaters Feb. 9, read more about the cast below.

  • Spencer Stone as Himself

    Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures; Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

    One of the three men credited for stopping a Paris-bound gunman, Stone and his friends Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler met at a Christian elementary school, which instilled in them a sense of faith and belief in service.

    After hearing a gunshot and glass shattering, the three courageous young men rushed toward the attacker. Stone held the attacker by the neck but was slashed in his own neck with a boxcutter during the altercation.

    Spencer Stone's father, Brian Stone, told NBC News after the incident, that the gunman was probably taken off guard when his son, who is 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, ran toward the attacker instead of ducking for cover.

    "I think it’s consistent with … Spencer’s attitude towards life," Brian Stone said. 

  • Alek Skarlatos as Himself

    Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures; Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

    Skarlatos’ mother, Heidi Hansen, said of her son's heroic actions, "I wasn’t surprised at all," adding that his reaction during and after the attack was "very typical Alek."

    Skarlatos was able to grab the assault rifle out of the terrorist’s hands as Stone held his neck. 

  • Anthony Sadler as Himself

    Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures; Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

    Alongside his childhood friends, Sadler played a critical role in saving the lives of hundreds of passengers. He managed to subdue the gunman after Stone tackled him and Skarlatos disarmed him.

  • Ray Corasani as Ayoub El-Khazzani

    Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures; ZUMA Press/Newscom

    Corasani plays the France-bound terrorist, who had ties to Islamist groups and was planning a massacre on the crowded train. The three American soldiers concluded he had no firearm experience whatsoever and recalled his gun stalling, which allowed them to take down the alleged ISIS recruit.

    Corasani has also appeared in the 2017 film The Long Road Home, and in Goliath, released in 2016.

  • Jenna Fischer as Heidi Hansen

    Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

    The Office’s Jenna Fischer plays Alek Skarlatos’ mother.

    Skarlatos, a fan of Fischer's TV show, told The News Review of the actress: “I think I’ve seen every episode, and she not only lived up to any expectations I’d built up in my head, she was even better.”

  • Judy Greer as Joyce Eskel

    Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

    Greer plays Joyce Eskel, the mother of U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Spencer Stone.

    Eskel told the Associated Press, "He's always been a hero to me. Now he's an actual hero. He deserves it. He put his life on the line. They all did, and I'm just very, very proud of him. So proud."