” In 2012, actor Bradley Cooper called up former Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Chris Kyle to discuss the movie he was developing based on Kyle’s memoir, “American Sniper.”
” I just thought I should get on the phone with him and let him know what I was willing to do for him, and to trust me,” said Cooper, who produced and starred in the new biopic, which has a scheduled national release on Jan. 16.
Months later, the film’s screenwriter called Cooper with tragic news.
” Never did I think on Feb. 2, 2013, I would get a call from Jason Hall that Chris was murdered,” Cooper said in a Dec. 19 phone interview. “So that sure changed everything.”
Kyle and a friend, Chad Littlefield, were shot to death on a Texas shooting range by Eddie Ray Routh, a Marine veteran whom they’d taken out to help work through his post-traumatic stress.
The film pressed on, though. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the story follows Kyle through his early days as a Texas rodeo cowboy, to his time at SEAL training in 1999 and on to his four deployments to Iraq, where he racked up what’s believed to be the most confirmed kills in U.S. military history as a sniper with SEAL Team Three.
Though some, such as Washington Post reporter Terrence McCoy, have questioned the accuracy of Kyle’s stories, Cooper said he focused on making a Global War on Terror film different from what’s already been done.
Kyle’s relationship with his wife, Taya, and his difficulties reintegrating after deployment feature heavily.
” There hasn’t been a character study of a soldier that’s gone through this war that I’ve seen on film,” he said. “I liked that idea, and I thought framing it as a Western would be very interesting.”
Questions and answers from Navy Times’ interview have been edited for brevity. “