30 Things You Didn’t Know About American Sniper

Bradley Cooper stars as the late Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in US military history in American Sniper. In addition to picking up six Oscar nominations, the film has been a massive and surprise box office hit. Directed by the legendary Clint Eastwood, American Sniper follows the life of Kyle from when he first enlists in the Navy SEALs, through his four tours of duty, and details the emotional toll it all takes on himself and his family.

Through press notes and interviews, we’ve put together 25 interesting facts and trivia tidbits about one of the first breakout movies of 2015. Find out what kind of preparation Cooper underwent to play Kyle, which other actresses were considered for the role of his wife, the two award-winning directors who expressed interest in the project, and other behind the scenes Easter eggs from the film. From box office records to filming details, and a quick side note about Jesse Ventura’s lawsuit against Kyle’s family, this list will take you deep into a film that is sure to be an award-winner and classic war movie.

American Sniper, directed by Clint Eastwood, co-stars Sienna Miller, Luke Grimes, Jake McDorman, Kevin Lacz, and Keir O’Donnell.

The real Chris Kyle lied about his military record.

In May of 2016, the Intercept got a hold of internal Navy records that proved Kyle had exaggerated his war decorations. Kyle claimed he received two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars for valor, when in reality he only received one Silver Star and three Bronze Stars. Unidentified fellow naval officers claimed they warned Kyle not to lie about his medal count in the book. He didn’t listen. Still, what’s the big deal about adding a few extra commendations? Military personnel consider embellishment of wartime achievements (AKA “stolen valor”) a serious ethical violation.

Bradley Cooper ate around 6,000 calories a day to prep for the role.

“The first thing to do in order to enter into any sort of believability for myself was to get big and gain the weight,” Cooper said in an interview. “The good thing is, we’re both 6 foot, 2, both size 14 shoes, so having the same frame was actually a good thing. For Wedding Crashers I got up to 205 and I thought that was massive and I hadn’t been anywhere close to that since.”

Bradley Cooper had a different actor in mind for the lead role.

Cooper initially bought the rights to the film intending to only serve as a producer, with Chris Pratt starring as Chris Kyle. The two would go on to co-star in Guardians of the Galaxy.

David O. Russell and Steven Spielberg considered directing.

Russell considered directing the film but a deal with Warner Bros. didn’t work out. Spielberg then expressed interest but eventually moved on. Eastwood came on board shortly after Kyle died.

Three other actresses were considered to play Taya Kyle.

Jaimie Alexander, Kate Mara, and Evangeline Lilly were considered to play Taya Kyle before Sienna Miller was cast. Mara chose to star in The Fantastic Four reboot while Lilly joined the cast of Ant-Man.

Chris Kyle met Lone Survivor Marcus Luttrell during SEAL training.

Kyle and Luttrell became close friends after they graduated from training. They kept in contact often and remained friends for the remainder of Kyle’s life. Luttrell is credited with urging Kyle to write his autobiography.

Cooper worked on Kyle’s dialect for five hours everyday for two and a half months.

“I’d wake up at 4:30, drive to the gym for two hours, come back, 8 to 10:30 work on dialect, then 2 to 4:30 gym, then 6 to 8:30 dialect. That was five days a week,” Cooper said. “That was it. I just sort of ate, slept, and drank this guy for two and a half months.”

The movie filmed for 12 days in Morocco.

“We only shot two six-day weeks in Morocco,” Cooper said. “The rest of the time was in California. It was a quick shoot.”

Cooper calls this the hardest movie he’s ever worked on.

“[This movie was] the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s not even close,” Cooper said. “Physically, emotionally, everything. Emotionally because he was a real guy. I had anxiety as I was starting to prep but by the time we got to shooting, I had zero anxiety. I felt comfortable with the three different guns he used. That was a huge deal cuz I kept thinking, ‘How the f**k am I going to feel dextrous with these things?’ and then also the weight and the voice.”

The infamous fake baby was their third choice.

Why use a doll instead of a real baby? Well, no one really wanted to (thank goodness). The doll was used because the first baby got a fever and the second string baby didn’t show up to set.

Cooper is squatting 400 pounds of weights in the movie.

“That was 400 pounds that we were dead squatting in the movie. That was not like, fake weights,” Cooper said. “That was the kind of workout we would do all the time.”

American Sniper is the highest grossing Best Picture Oscar nominee of 2015.

The film passed The Grand Budapest Hotel to become the highest-grossing Best Picture Oscar nominee of 2015. As of this writing it has earned more than Birdman, The Theory of Everything, Boyhood, and Whiplash combined.

Kyle used three particular guns in the film.

The three guns were the .300 Winchester Magnum, the .338 Lapua Magnum, and the Mark 11 rifle.

Kevin Lacz is an actual former SEAL who toured with Chris Kyle.

Lacz plays Dauber in the film and did one tour with Kyle. He was part of the group that helped train Cooper and the other SEALs for the film. “I was training Bradley to do some long range sniper work and he said, ‘Did you ever consider playing yourself in the movie?’ I wasn’t sure about my acting skills, but I put a video together, Clint looked at it and liked it and there we were.”

Cooper trained with live ammo.

“It made such a huge difference,” Cooper said. “On A-Team, we trained with blanks but Clint is all about real, no bullsh*t, so it was a huge benefit to have that training going into shooting.”

Clint Eastwood collaborated with former colleagues in post production.

Eastwood’s creative team includes Oscar-nominated director of photography Tom Stern ( Changeling), Oscar-nominated production designer James J. Murakami ( Changeling) and Oscar-winning editor Joel Cox ( Unforgiven).

Chris Kyle is the most lethal sniper in US military history.

The film often makes reference to Kyle’s record-setting kill count of 160 targets, a feat that earned him the nickname Legend.

American Sniper set the record for highest January movie debut.

The film grossed $89.5 million during its opening weekend. That’s twice as high as the previous January record holder,  Ride Along, which opened at $41.5 million.

But not everyone loved the film. . .

Hollywood lefties like Seth Rogen and Michael Moore spoke out against the film. Seth Rogen compared the film to Nazi propaganda, tweeting “American Sniper kind of reminds me of me of the movie that’s showing in the third act of Inglorious Basterds.”

Some movie-goers also spoke out against the film

A prominent American Sniper billboard in Los Angeles was spray-painted with the word ‘Murder’ on the film’s opening weekend.

Michael Moore also had some strong words (which received plenty of backlash.)

On Jan. 18, the left-leaning documentary maker tweeted, “My uncle killed by sniper in WW2. We were taught snipers were cowards. Will shoot u in the back. Snipers aren’t heroes. And invaders r worse.”

The backlash to this was swift and strong from actors, singer, talking heads, and others who pushed back. Actor Rob Lowe tweeted, “Michael Moore Blasts #AmericanSniper Hero: Gunmen Are ‘Cowards’ He’s kidding, right?”

Politician Newt Gingrich tweeted, “Michael Moore should spend a few weeks with ISIS and Boko Haram. Then he might appreciate@AmericanSniper. I am proud of our defenders.”

The climactic sniper shot was a little different in reality.

Unlike the events that occur in the climactic sniper shot of the movie, Kyle did not take out an opposing sniper from 2,100 yards away. Instead, he fired a shot from his .338 Lapua Magnum-chambered McMillan TAC-338 sniper rifle killing an insurgent who was about to launch a rocket-propelled grenade at an Army convoy.

Jesse Ventura collected $1.8 million from Kyle’s estate following a lawsuit.

The original alleged incident occurred back in 2006 in a bar in Coronado, CA. Kyle claims in his book that Ventura was “bad-mouthing the war, bad-mouthing (former President) Bush” and said the SEALs “deserved to lose a few guys.” In a subsequent interview, Ventura vehemently denied ever meeting Kyle or making derogatory remarks about the military.

In January 2012, Ventura filed a lawsuit against Kyle for defamation. After Kyle’s death in February 2013, Ventura announced he would continue his lawsuit by adding Kyle’s estate as a defendant. After six days of deliberation, the jury awarded Ventura $1.8 million. In December 2014, Ventura filed a second lawsuit against HarperCollins over Kyle’s autobiography,  American Sniper.

Kyle and a friend were shot and killed by a Marine Corps veteran.

Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield were shot and killed at the Rough Creek Ranch-Lodge-Resort shooting range in Erath County, TX by 25-year-old Marine Corps veteran Eddie Ray Routh. Kyle and Littlefield had reportedly taken Routh to the gun range in an effort to help him cope with what Routh’s mother said was PTSD.

Kyle earned 10 awards during his years of service.

Kyle was awarded the Silver Star Medal twice, the Bronze Star Medal of Valor five times, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal once, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal twice.

The climactic sandstorm scene was filmed in El Centro, CA.

The sand storm was generated by a blend of special and visual effects. Eastwood and cinematographer Tom Stern used state-of-the-art Blackmagic cameras to film the battle sequences.

Eastwood makes a cameo appearance.

Look for him in the beginning of the movie as an extra entering the church where Kyle steals his Bible.

The film had the second-largest opening for an R-rated movie ever.

The film’s opening weekend gross ranks second all-time for an R-rated movie, trailing only 2003’s The Matrix Reloaded ($91.8 million).

Sammy Sheik plays the enemy sniper Mustafa.

“He’s a Syrian sharpshooter who competed for his country in the Olympics,” Sheik said. “Now he’s come to Iraq with the goal of fighting for the insurgents against their common enemy. I thought he was a fascinating character even though he does not say one word the entire film. But everything had a rhythm to it. Clint would tell me, ‘Take it slow. this guy is cool under stress.'”

Bradley Cooper has been nominated for four Oscars in three years.

Cooper earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination for American Sniper and another nomination for Best Picture as a producer. in 2014, he was nominated for Best Actor in American Hustle and in 2013, Best Actor inSilver Linings Playbook.
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