Bradley Cooper, one of Hollywood’s elite, is set to star as Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle in the upcoming biopic American Sniper.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Cooper expressed initial concerns about playing the role, suggesting he didn’t feel he was the right person to “pretend to walk in Kyle’s shoes.”
Kyle, who was the deadliest sniper in American military history, made a name for himself on the battlefields of the Iraq War.
His legacy will soon play out on the silver screen in a film directed by Clint Eastwood.
Kyle had not yet released his autobiography before Cooper had begun working with others to bring that story to life.
The actor spoke about turning the epic story into a Hollywood film, but also cited reservations about his role.
“At that time, I didn’t really think, honestly, that I was right to play Chris, but it was the only way that I was gonna get the movie produced,” Cooper explained.
Before production, after the tragic death of Kyle, Eastwood and Cooper took a trip to Midlothian, Texas, to visit Kyle’s family in an attempt to better understand his life.
Cooper is still able to recite the names of Kyle’s entire family from memory, and described Kyle’s home as “sacred ground.”
We spent three days with Taya, Kyle’s wife, and McKenna and Colton, the two children, and then Wayne and Debbie, his parents, and Jeff and Amy, his brother and his brother’s wife.
It changed us for the rest of the shoot. It was the thing that sort of concretized it for us and really made us both realize just how important a responsibility we had, and we also got tons of material from it.
Cooper elaborated about the life-changing experience, suggesting that he felt someone else might have been better suited to pay homage to the fallen SEAL:
Personally, to set a goal and actually achieve it, which I had a lot of fear that I wasn’t gonna be able to do.
The honor of being able to walk, pretend to walk in this man’s shoes; to have the trust of his family, having his father look me in the eyes and trust me to do this.
Cooper’s humble words speak less about those initial reservations, and more about his character.
The two men walked drastically different paths in life. However, those paths eventually crossed. It is now the actor’s portrayal that will ensure that the legacy of Chris Kyle is told to millions in the coming months.
Serio reached out to fellow service members about their encounters with the actor on that deployment, all of whom expressed a positive sentiment about meeting Cooper.
“He was completely unassuming,” said Commander Ron Flanders. “Very sincere, a guy who clearly was in awe of the ship and her crew. He was very effusive in his praise of the sailors.”
Navy Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Ryan Myers told a similar story when asked about his conversation with the actor:
Well, when they were there visiting, it was around my wife’s birthday. I waited in line with everyone else and when I got to him, I asked for an autograph, addressed to my wife, wishing her a happy birthday.
He looked at me funny and asked if I was sure that was all I wanted, I told him yes… I wanted to bring her back something special, and she loved him…
He signed it, wished her a happy birthday on it and gave me a hug for thinking about her.
Army Major Kevin Stein recalled a run-in with Cooper at last year’s SoulCycle in Brentwood, California:
A few of us met him at Soul Cycle in 2013. We got to actually ride with him. We were introduced to him and he was very appreciative of our service.
In fact, one of us, an LTC, had created dog tags for the SoulCycle crew, and she made one for Bradley Cooper because of his work with wounded Warriors at Walter Reed.
Every service member who was contacted about the dynamic star painted an identical picture about his gracious and humble nature.
While Cooper may have once had doubts about his ability to portray one of America’s greatest heroes, there are plenty of men and women in uniform who view him as just that – a hero.
His work with the USO, along with his visits to troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, might not make him as valiant as his character in American Sniper, but there are many brave young people who praise his service and sacrifices as courageous.