Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler accepted the hero award Saturday night from Eastwood and then shared an animated conversation with the actor backstage, a thrill for the lifelong fans.
“I’m such a huge Clint Eastwood fan. I’ve seen all of his movies growing up,” Skarlatos told PEOPLE on Saturday at Spike TV’s Guys Choice Awards in Culver City, California. “Actually meeting him in person, having him give us the award. Then we talked with him for like 10 minutes afterwards. It was one of the coolest experiences that has happened to us so far.”
That’s saying something. Since being honored internationally for their brave actions that stopped a potentially tragic terrorist attack, the heroes have met President Barack Obama and Arnold Schwarzenegger, hung out with Kobe Bryant in the Lakers’ locker room and Skarlatos even finished in third place on season 21 of Dancing with the Stars.
“People try and ask us what’s the coolest things we’ve done, but I can name 100. It’s hard to categorize them,” Stone said.
However, the three childhood friends weren’t looking for this kind of attention or rewards. They claim they simply didn’t want to die.
“I know I can speak for all of us when we say we don’t think we’re heroes,” Stone said.
He added, “We’re just ordinary guys. We just got lucky. We had a chance to do something good and we took it. That’s pretty much it.”
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The heroes may be humble about their heroic actions, but they do admit they are proud of how they reacted to the situation, no matter how frightening.
“We lived up to what we hoped we would do,” Skarlatos said. “But I mean, nobody knows what they’re going to do in that kind of situation. I mean, like I said, the first thing I told Anthony when we got off the train was, I’m just glad I didn’t piss my pants. I mean, I had no idea that I had that in me.”
He continued, “We didn’t have time to think or make a decision. It was just act or die. We chose the right thing and we lived. I mean, a lot of luck was on our side. We had friends backing us up obviously. We made it through. I mean, doesn’t mean nine times out of ten we wouldn’t have died, but that time, we kind of hit the lottery and we just are lucky to be alive and be here and have all the opportunities.”
Stone is keeping his options open but plans on getting his paramedics license to become a paramedic firefighter. Meanwhile, Skarlatos admits he’d be happy becoming a cop as he planned.
Will life soon be back to normal for the guys? Probably not, if you ask them.
“You know what, everyone keeps saying that. The rollercoaster ride is coming to an end,” Stone said. “But it’s been what, almost eight months now? And it’s still going. So we have some things coming up. I don’t think it’s going to end any time soon.”
• Reporting by SCOTT HUVER