Clint Eastwood turned ordinary civilians into Hollywood stars

Mark Moogalian and Christopher Norman respond to 'The 15:17 to Paris'

Clint Eastwood turned ordinary civilians into Hollywood stars
Stars Insider

05/03/18 | StarsInsider

MOVIES The 15:17 to Paris

Clint Eastwood's film 'The 15:17 to Paris' stars the real-life heroes of a terrorist attack that took place on a train in 2015. Mark Moogalian, a 53-year-old professor of English at Sorbonne, and Christopher Norman, a 62-year-old IT consultant, risked their lives to take down a gunman.

The two citizen heroes, along with three American Navy Seals, took the initiative that faithful train ride to try to save the lives of 500 passengers. Just two years after the incident, the men reunited to star in Clint Eastwood's film recreating the day.

“For better or for worse, I’m the kind of person who will take risks,” Moogalian told National Arts and Culture. “It’s something I’ve got in me, and maybe it’s not always the best idea in the world, but that time it was.”

Moogalian and Norman had no formal combat training, just an instinct to protect. Following the incident, they were awarded with France's highest accolade, the Légion d’Honneur. However, it wasn't long until Hollywood wanted to honor them in its own way.

“My first reaction was I didn’t want to participate in it, because I had a pretty tough time afterwards,” Norman said. “I more or less decided to stop everything after the event.” Eventually, however, he decided to go through with it. “Not everybody has an opportunity to be in a film directed by Clint Eastwood,” he said. “And it would be good to see the other guys, anyway. So, I went ahead and did it, and it was actually very cathartic for me.”

The entire incident was recreated, from seeing the attacker emerge from the train bathroom and begin unloading ammunition, to Moogalian wrestling the assault rifle away from the attacker but getting shot by his handgun, to Norman helping the Navy Seals tie up the attacker.

“When I got shot and thought I was going to die, I was very happy that I was not afraid. And it’s important to remember that it was a victory. It was the first time there had been this type of attack on French soil in which nobody got killed,” Moogalian said. “It also meant I’d have more time to hang out with Alek, Anthony and Spencer, who I’d kept in contact with, and have the great privilege of working on a film directed by Clint Eastwood.”

The first-ever major Hollywood production to star real-life heroes, 'The 15:17 to Paris' is currently in theaters.

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