US Release Date: 12/25/14
Chris Kyle, the subject of Clint Eastwood’s latest directorial offering American Sniper, quickly earned a reputation as the most lethal sniper in the history of the US military. Over a period of four tours of duty in Iraq, Kyle, a Navy Seal and military marksman raked up approximately 160 confirmed kills.
“I had never met him at that point – I had only talked to him on the phone,” says Bradley Cooper, who plays Kyle in Eastwood’s film. “And then, like that, he was gone.”
Cooper, who also served as producer on the film, says Kyle’s story mirrors the experiences of other veterans struggling to adapt to life at home following many years in a war zone.
“That was very moving to me. I liked the fact that it wasn’t as much of a war movie as it was a character study. And if you look at Clint Eastwood’s films, like ‘Unforgiven,’ ‘Gran Torino,’ ‘Letters from Iwo Jima’…they are all complex character studies, albeit with very different backdrops. So he was absolutely the right director to tell this story in a very raw, truthful way.”
Cooper also underwent a physical transformation, requiring a strict work out regimen, and an increase in calories, to become the more physically imposing Kyle.
“Chris was 230 pounds of muscle and I was about 185 pounds at the time, so it was three months of constant eating and working out. It was tough,” Cooper acknowledges.
In addition, Cooper and Eastwood traveled to Texas to meet with Kyle’s family, including his wife Taya, played by Sienna Miller in American Sniper, his parents, Wayne and Debbie, as well as his brother, Jeff.
“It was vital for me to spend that time with them because we got a much better idea of who Chris was from his family, who are wonderful,” recalls Eastwood. “We came away with a combination of sadness over the loss of this remarkable man but even more enthusiasm about making this film.”
“We gave them our word that we were going to do right by Chris. And the truth is I really did feel like he was there.”
Eastwood promises intense action but also says it’s the relationships between Kyle and his fellow soldiers and Taya that drives the film forward.
“Chris was obviously crazy about her, but, by the same token, he was committed to fulfilling the demands his country was placing upon him.”
Eastwood says Kyle believed in “fighting for the underdog.”
“That carried into his role as a sniper; his job was to watch over the troops on the ground and keep them safe from an enemy they could not see.”
American Sniper also offers a glimpse into Kyle’s childhood when his father teaches him and his brother about the three types of people in the world – predator, prey and protector.
“I think Chris is hardwired to be a man dedicated to protecting others and that mission statement is seen throughout his life,” says Eastwood. “In many ways, his protective instinct and the price he pays for it is what the whole movie is about.”
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Luke Grimes, James McDorman, Cory Hardrict, Kevin Lacz, David Negahban and Keir O’ Donnell
Producers: Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper and Peter Morgan
Executive Producers: Tim Moore, Jason Hall, Sheroum Kim, Stephen Mnuchin, and Bruce Berman
Screenwriter: Jason Hall. Based on the book by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen and James DeFelice
Quote Source: Universal Pictures Production Notes
Image Info: Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures Caption: BRADLEY COOPER as Chris Kyle in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ drama “AMERICAN SNIPER,” distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.