In the case of Clint Eastwood's new film, The 15:17 To Paris, it is definitely the latter, as the three Americans who stopped a terrorist attack on a Paris train might be fine real-life heroes, but they are bad actors who have no business even portraying themselves.
After meeting the three men in their 20s at an awards show, Eastwood chose to make a film, but rather than casting actors, the Oscar-winning director called on the friends themselves.
Fiction: Stone charged down the train auto at the gunman before he knew the rifle was jammed. We did have a little debate.
Eastwood, 87, was sure. Americans overseas might seem insignificant against the backdrop of Western European history and culture, but as we'll see, they're what stands between that civilization and dark forces of evil.
They said yes, then nearly immediately began to second-guess themselves. A certain blunt power is guaranteed by the facts of the story, and Eastwood doesn't obviously try for anything more than that.
The longtime friends remember that harrowing day on the train well. Spencer and Alek quickly become friends with Anthony and soon the three are getting into all kinds of trouble together, becoming very familiar with the principal's office.
The assailant, 25-year-old Moroccan national Ayoub El Khazzani, did not enter the train vehicle wielding weapons while shirtless.
Skarlatos and Sadler joined the pitched battle, with Skarlatos striking an unfazed El-Khazzani with the butt of the gun as Stone held him in a chokehold. Stone then applied pressure to Moogalian's bullet wound until they made it to the paramedics. It's an ambitious and admirable choice for the veteran director, however, the result is a mixed bag of a film that does not work the way it should.
Slick roads for commuters again; snowstorm on tap Thursday-Friday
Significantly more snow and ice is expected in the northwestern portion of each county than the southeastern portion. Frey said the temperature will remain in the mid- to high 20s through Monday .
Khazzani's lawyer Sarah Mauger-Poliak, said: "I am aware that my client is not an angel but let's justice do its work". We're in heaven right now. "If people find themselves in that situation, we want them to know they can do extraordinary things as well".
Not a single person died in the attack, and the three heroes were awarded France's highest recognition, the Legion of Honour. Since 9/11, Americans have mostly been making middle-of-the-road movies about its heroes. That's about how long the attack on a Paris-bound train seems to last; the remaining 93½ minutes of the film is mostly taken up with an extended European holiday by its stars.
The film presents Stone as first among equals, perhaps because of his backstory - a childhood square peg who remade himself into a gentle giant of a rescue and survival specialist - and perhaps because Stone has an energy and an earnestness that feels reasonably close to acting.
"We said yes right away", Skarlatos added. "It's more like a reunion for everyone". Spencer, who keeps a closet full of realistic-looking toy guns and leads the others on shoot-'em-up adventures in the woods, has a vague sense that "life is just pushing us toward something, like some greater objective".
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They said El-Khazzani boarded the train with a Kalashnikov rifle, pistol and box cutter - in a story tailor-made for Eastwood's fascination with real-life modern heroes.
"The whole thing was extremely accurate, especially the train scene, just because we were able to consult, from the script writing and then of course being on set", Skarlatos said.
As they get older, Spencer and Alek's mutual sense of wanting to belong lands them both in the military. But I did think about, 'What happens if these guys turn out to be three stiffs?' " says Eastwood, cracking his stars up during a group interview at the Four Seasons Hotel.
But in a testament to the tremendous amount of clout Eastwood has at the studio - where his production company (Malpaso) is based and where he has directed such films as Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, American Sniper and Sully - they agreed to go along with the idea.
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