In a lengthy interview with the Los Angeles Times‘ Steven Zeitchik, Taya Kyle, widow of famed U.S. Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, said she was initially fearful of the way Clint Eastwood’s recent film, American Sniper, would portray her husband, but she ultimately ended up enjoying the film.
“I felt a little like I was back with Chris watching the film,” Kyle told the Times. “But whether you see Sienna [Miller] or you see me up on the screen, it doesn’t really matter. If people get the hardships, that’s enough. If there’s one other person who is married to a first-responder and sees the film and feels a little less alone, I’ll be happy.”
Kyle explained that she was initially afraid the film would provide an incomplete or inaccurate picture of her late husband, who died in 2013.
“The fear I had with this is that it would be the lasting impression, because Chris wouldn’t be around to say it wasn’t like that – and people wouldn’t believe me,” Kyle told the paper.
Kyle’s husband, Chris, often called the most lethal sniper in U.S. history, was killed along with friend Chad Littlefield at a Texas shooting range in 2013. A fellow veteran, Eddie Ray Routh, whom Kyle and Littlefield had reportedly been helping to ease back into civilian life, was charged with one count of capital murder and two counts of murder. The Times reports that he remains in jail in lieu of $3 million bond.
“The way it went down was so wrong, and yet on some level, Chris died as he lived: serving,” Kyle said.
Chris Kyle served four tours in the Iraq War, eventually earning two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars with Valor, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medals, and one Navy and Marine Corps commendation. During his service, he was reportedly shot twice and was involved in six separate IED attacks.
Back at home in Texas, Taya Kyle struggled to raise two children with an absent husband. According to the Times, she thought about leaving Kyle at one point.
Yet Chris returned from the war in 2009 and began to readjust to civilian life. Kyle told the paper she was in the process of reconciling with her husband when he was killed.
“Every single person suffers; every marriage has some major battles,” Kyle said of the last years she spent with her husband. “Life pulls you in different directions. But if you try and you’re lucky, you can find your way back to each other.”
After her husband’s passing, Kyle lost a defamation lawsuit brought against Chris by former Minnesota governor and wrestling star Jesse Ventura. Ventura claimed that an incident described in the book American Sniper in which Chris Kyle punched Ventura in a bar for allegedly making anti-military comments was fabricated. Taya Kyle was ordered to pay $1.845 million to Ventura.
“A couple of times I felt like I was cracking and I couldn’t go on, and God would put another person in my place to help me,” Kyle told the Times. “And I’d realize it’s not worth our time to worry. You do your best, and God will put the right people in your path.”
Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle and Sienna Miller as his wife Taya, opened in four U.S. theaters on Christmas Day. The film took in the third-highest per-screen average for a limited release in its opening weekend. The film opens in wide release on January 16.