In the new movie, “American Sniper,” Bradley Cooper plays U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in US history. One of the most important things that Cooper wants to personally convey about the role is how extremely proud he is to have the opportunity to play this American hero.
At a private showing of the film hosted solely for military families on Friday, Cooper said “Clint (Eastwood) and I made this film to help service our military and veterans and their families.”
Cooper said that he hopes the movie will open the viewers’ eyes as to the struggles that veterans face, both in battle and when they return home. “The takeaway will be, for those who can relate to him, will be healing, to relate to a vet who has gone through similar things that Chris has gone through, and maybe not feel so alone.”
Kyle served honorably in four tours in the Iraq war, eventually being awarded several commendations for heroism and meritorious service in combat, including two Silver stars, five Bronze stars, one Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals.
During his tours as a sniper, Kyle was credited with 160 confirmed kills out of 255 probable kills, based upon his shooter logs. In action, he himself was shot twice and was involved in six different IED explosions.
In the movie, efforts are made to realistically depict the struggles common to many veterans. For example, Cooper shows how Kyle struggled to be a good husband and involved father despite his repeated deployments. It also accurately describes the difficult readjustment that Kyle faced when his service ended and he attempted to return to civilian life.
One way that they were able to do this was through the help of Kyle’s widow, who gave Cooper permission to read private e-mails that she and her husband had exchanged while he was in Iraq. She also gave the actor access to personal family videos.
“She opened up her life. We didn’t have to create anything with our imagination. Literally all we had to do was soak in what she gave us. If people watch this film and have a better understanding of what military families go through, then we have done our job. I’m so proud of this film and so humbled by the experience of Chris’s story.”
Kyle and a companion were killed in 2013 by a man they had taken into a shooting range in order to attempt to help him with his post-traumatic stress disorder.