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Clint Eastwood solidified his status as an American icon long ago, but he continues to do the kind of things that build a longterm legacy.

His latest such move came in a surprising decision as he casted the roles for an upcoming film.

The movie is called The 15:17 to Paris, and it’s based on the book by a similar title The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Heroes. The book tells the story of how three American men risked their lives to stop a terrorist attack on a train in France.

While traveling in Europe, the trio stopped an attempted attack on a train from Brussels to Paris by overpowering the man, who was armed with an AK-47. The story was heavily covered on cable news, where the friends, one of whom was in the Oregon National Guard and another in the U.S. Air Force, were lauded for their bravery.   

The men co-authored the book, and now they’ll get to be part of the story in the movie as well.

Variety and  the Hollywood Reporter are both reporting that Eastwood, in an unconventional move, has cast Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone to play themselves in his upcoming movie.

From Variety:

Following the news that this would be his follow-up to the box office hit “Sully,” Eastwood began a wide-ranging search for the actors who would portray the three Americans. The studio and Eastwood made their choices but at the 11th hour decided to have Sadler, Skarlatos and Stone portray themselves.

Sources say that, while the three will have good-sized roles, the film is expected to begin during their childhood and show their friendship leading up to the moment that changed their lives. That means the roles will not be full-on leads.

From THR:

Jenna Fischer, Judy Greer and Ray Corasani have also been cast in the feature. Playing the various younger versions of the three leads will be Paul-Mikél Williams, Max Ivutin, Bryce Gheisar, Cole Eichenberger and William Jennings.

While the men will play themselves and have a substantial role in the film, but it’s not expected to be a huge lift for the trio because the bulk of the movie will focus on their childhood friendship. The movie focuses more on the upbringing and life choices of the trio that led them to play such a vital role in saving lives on that train.

How cool is it that Eastwood has decided to let these men speak for themselves, when the obviously easy casting answer is to hire some professional Hollywood actors to do the job instead?

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