Taya Kyle thought it was “probably impossible” to do justice to her husband Chris Kyle‘s story in “American Sniper.” During multiple tours in the Iraq War, Kyle became the deadliest sniper is US military history. Then in 2013, after he came from from the war, he was tragically shot and killed by a fellow veteran on a shooting range.
After Kyle’s funeral, “Sniper” screenwriter Jason Dean Hall recalls Taya telling him, “If you’re going to do this, you need to do it right, because this will play a part probably in how my kids are going to remember their father.”
But Taya praises the work of the cast and crew, including director Clint Eastwood and stars Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller, who play Chris and Taya in the film. They’re “close to my heart,” she says, and showed “such love and compassion. They all got the details and nuances and subtleties of that love that you have for somebody that you would do anything for them.”
Eastwood thought the story was “unique,” and an opportunity to dig deeper than the conventional action films he’s accustomed to. And Cooper considered it a “massive responsibility” to play Kyle and made sure to do the necessary physical work for the role, gaining significant weight to try to fill Kyle’s imposing shoes.
“American Sniper” recently claimed a spot on the AFI’s list of the top 11 films of 2014, and it received nominations at the Critics’ Choice Awards for Best Action Film and Best Actor in an Action Film for Cooper.
Cooper has been nominated for Oscars for the last two years in a row: for “Silver Linings Playbook” (Best Actor, 2012) and “American Hustle” (Best Supporting Actor, 2013). Could he three-peat? The film and his performance have earned strong reviews. Says Joe Morgenstern (Wall Street Journal), “After breaking through as a brilliant comic actor in ‘The Hangover,’ ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ and ‘American Hustle,’ Mr. Cooper turns out to be just as brilliant at intensely dramatic inwardness.” According to Justin Chang (Variety), the film “hinges on Cooper’s restrained yet deeply expressive lead performance.” Peter Travers (Rolling Stone) calls it “an astonishing, all-out performance.”
Will he and the film make an impact at the Oscars? Below, watch Eastwood, Cooper, Miller, Hall, and Taya Kyle discuss the film with Anderson Cooper in an exclusive featurette, then use our drag-and-drop menu to predict Best Picture. Click here to predict all Oscars categories, including Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice and SAG Awards.