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Recruitment and Training
In "American Sniper" we get a glimpse of how Chris became the man he was,
beginning as a boy in Texas, when his dad first teaches him and his brother about the
three types of people in the world: the predator, the prey or the protector. And in that
instant, without him even being aware, Chris's course is set. Cooper offers, "I think
Chris is hardwired to be a man dedicated to protecting others and that mission
statement is seen throughout his life. In many ways, his protective instinct and the
price he pays for it is what the whole movie is about."
"He was a big, strong kid who believed in fighting for the underdog," Eastwood adds.
"That carried into his role as a sniper; his job was to watch over the troops on the
ground and keep them safe from an enemy they could not see."
Cooper knew that taking on the role of Chris Kyle would test him both physically and
mentally but welcomed the challenge. He notes, "There wasn't a way to do the movie
without being Chris, not mimicking him but embodying him completely. I needed to
figure out how he walked and talked and to try to get as big as he was to even begin to
get to a point where I could believe I was him because if I didn't believe it, no one else
would either. I watched everything ever recorded of him many times and did as much
research as I could."
The actor worked with dialect coach Tim Monich to perfect Kyle's Texas drawl. The job
of bulking up his frame was more physically demanding, involving a strict workout
regimen with trainer Jason Walsh, as well as calorie loading to pack on the weight.
"Chris was 230 pounds of muscle and I was about 185 pounds at the time, so it was
three months of constant eating and working out. It was tough," Cooper acknowledges.
"When your system isn't naturally inclined to go in that direction, you have to kind of
work at it around the clock, and he did," says Eastwood. "I don't think I ever saw him
off camera without some kind of shake or nutrition bar. By the last day, he was saying,
'Thank God I don't have to eat anymore.'"
Having spent more personal time with Kyle than any of the filmmakers, Jason Hall
could attest, "I know it meant a lot to Chris that Bradley was willing to be put through
his paces to become him. But on top of transforming his voice and his body, Bradley
picked up the more innate elements of Chris Kyle. I'd be watching the monitor and he'd

stand or look a certain way...just his aura would send goose bumps down my arms. I
was like, 'Holy cow, that's Chris.' It was uncanny."
Taya agrees. "When people see this movie, they will get the heart, the soul, the
character of the real Chris...the spirit and the heart of the man with the pain and the
triumphs and everything he went through. Bradley captured all of that."
Eastwood also respected Cooper's complete immersion into the role, stating,
"Bradley's enthusiasm and work ethic was unparalleled. He was totally invested in the
job and never stopped thinking about how to make every aspect of the project the best
it could be."
It turned out that Cooper and Kyle had shared an equal admiration for Eastwood. "I
was told that Chris had said he always wanted Clint Eastwood to direct 'American
Sniper,'" the actor reveals, "and I have always wanted to work with Clint, so it felt so
good for him to say, 'Come on, let's make this movie together.'"
"Both Chris and I thought Clint Eastwood would be ideal," Taya confirms, "but believed
it was a pie-in-the-sky idea. Then, after Chris died and I heard that Clint had agreed to
do it, I had a minute where I was just in awe and I gave a nod up to Heaven like, 'You
did it, Chris.' It was just one of those moments where I felt like okay, it could've just
happened. But really? I mean to get Clint Eastwood for a Chris Kyle movie; it couldn't
be more perfect."
"I absolutely loved Clint's fast-paced style, his efficient use of time," says Cooper. "And
he opened up the filmmaking process to me and allowed me to collaborate on a level
that was very beneficial to me and to my performance."
"Working with Clint was the most creatively liberating experience I've ever had,"
Sienna Miller concurs. "He is so trusting, so instinctual and so confident in his ability to
know when he has what he needs; it just forces this freedom in you as an actor.
There's no one cooler in the world than Clint Eastwood. That is a fact."
As Taya, the love of Chris Kyle's life, Miller wanted to convey the passion they share
as well as the emotional challenges her character faces as the wife of a Navy SEAL. It
was also essential to show Taya's unique spirit. "She's a feisty lady," Miller states. "She
knows what she wants, she doesn't suffer fools and she's sharp, as you can tell from
the first time we see her in the bar where she meets Chris. They instantly have
chemistry, though Taya has apprehensions about what he does for a living. But Chris

is so disarming and sincere that her preconceptions about him are very quickly
dissipated. I think she realizes she's met her man."
Robert Lorenz asserts, "The role of Taya demanded somebody who could dig in and
hold her own against the legendary figure of Chris Kyle. The real Taya is someone who
gave balance to Chris because she is such a strong personality, and Sienna does the
same thing in the movie-balancing the performance that Bradley gave with a terrifically
moving one of her own."
"Taya matches Chris in energy and strength," adds Cooper, "so there's a lot of fire and
a lot of love and also a lot of pain in their relationship."
Miller says, "Going in, Taya knows that Chris lives by the ethos of God, country, family,
in that order. She does her best to be patient and understanding, but I've spoken to
Taya about this, and the reality is that, as a wife, being third on that list is brutal."
The actress adds that she gained tremendous insight about her role directly from the
woman she was portraying. "I first met Taya via Skype and we talked on the phone a
lot, and then she came to L.A. before we started shooting and we spent a day together
talking, hugging, laughing and crying. It was extraordinary. She's a truly formidable
woman and I admire her hugely for her resilience. I also appreciate her graciousness
and her being as accommodating as she was in helping me identify with how she felt
during those years."
Taya Kyle recalls, "There was a time I was showing her a video clip of Chris and some
pictures that I had on my laptop, and I remember her suddenly looking at me and
saying, 'Wow, you really loved him.' And there was something about the way she said
it-because I had talked to her before, and she knew I loved him. But in that instant, I
think she understood that this was a love that was life-changing, and that I will never
have an experience like it again. When she got that, I realized that she was going to
bring it to the movie. And she did."
Cooper says that Miller was not the only one who benefited from the input of the
woman who endured her husband being in harm's way through four tours of duty in
Iraq. "Taya was a tremendous asset to the entire film. She revealed so much of their
life to me and Sienna, allowing us to read many of their email exchanges and
describing certain scenarios. She was so generous about sharing personal details of
their relationship so we could really understand what it was like for them to be

"Bradley said to me many times that they owe it to me for being so being so open and
giving us all this detail, but I think quite the opposite is true," Taya asserts. "I owe it to
all of them for caring enough to get all the details."
Apart from Taya and their children, Chris Kyle had close-knit extended family in the
men of SEAL Team 3, which Andrew Lazar calls "a true brotherhood. SEAL Teams are
tasked with some of the most dangerous missions in the military; they are dealing with
life and death every day, so the bonds they form are extremely strong. And you need
that in order to survive."
Jason Hall adds, "You ask any of these guys why they serve, why they are willing to go
back over and over, and they'll say they are fighting for their country, which is true. But
when you get down to the bare bones of it, they will tell you, 'I was fighting for the guys
next to me.'"
One of the men who fought alongside the real Chris Kyle on SEAL Team 3 was Kevin
Lacz, better known to his compatriots by his nickname, Dauber. As part of Kyle's inner
circle, Lacz became a vital resource for the production, providing essential details
about their deployments to the filmmakers and cast and eventually coming onboard as
the film's Navy technical advisor. But he soon took on another role-that of himself in
the film.
Lacz recalls, "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."
On set, Lacz's firsthand accounts of the team's exploits in Iraq proved invaluable.
Cooper attests, "He would add little Chris anecdotes or things Chris would do. He also
guided us in the specific ways the team would operate, which dictated how we filmed
certain scenes. I can't even imagine having done the movie without him."
For Lacz, stepping onto the set was like stepping back in time. "I've been out of the
Navy for a few years, but once I donned the uniform, I did feel like I was back in Iraq at
times. The set design was awesome, so visually I was there, and then it was just about
trying to get into the mindset of being a Team guy again. It's not the same, but you get
that emotion, that visceral feeling, when you recreate those moments. It was powerful
to me, and I know it was powerful to everybody who was on set watching. It makes you
come back and reflect every day."

Eastwood cast an ensemble of young actors to play the other members of Seal Team
3. Jake McDorman plays Ryan Job, who was saddled on his first day of SEAL training
with the unfortunate nickname Biggles because "he was a little heavier than your
average applicant," McDorman acknowledges. "And the instant an embarrassing
nickname is thrown out, there's no undoing it. It's permanent."
Biggles and Chris Kyle become fast friends during their punishing SEAL training,
where Chris's actions are emblematic of his natural protective streak. McDorman
explains, "Biggles is struggling and Chris notices that and tries to take the pressure off
him by putting the attention on himself. His support gives Biggles the best chance to
succeed, and Biggles is able to rise to the occasion and prevail. It formed the bond
that lasted for the rest of their years together-a pledge of commitment that, no matter
how hard it gets, you're not going to abandon one of your brothers."
Joining their band of brothers were Cory Hardrict as D; Luke Grimes as Marc Lee; Eric
Laden as Squirrel; and Ray Gallegos as Tony.
While it was nowhere near as grueling as what real SEAL applicants endure, the
actors assembled by Eastwood to be SEAL Team 3 did go through a kind of boot camp
in order to portray accurately members of the Navy's elite Special Forces. They were
trained under the tutelage of Lacz and the film's military advisor, James D. Dever, a
former Marine, who previously worked with the director on "Flags of Our Fathers" and
"Letters From Iwo Jima."
"We had to learn how to properly hold a gun, how they enter and clear a room, and the
correct lingo," Grimes says. "We were constantly reminded that we weren't just doing it
for the camera; we were doing it for the guys who were there and the ones who are
still there, and we took that very seriously."
Adds Hardrict, "We just tried to stay focused and do our best because, at the end of
the day, this was an acting job. But for the men we were playing, it was real life. When
it was time for them to put on the gear and go out on the battlefield, it was all business,
and we wanted to do that justice."
"Every one of the actors gave their all to telling this story," Eastwood remarks. "I was
so grateful for their dedication and their appreciation for the people who actually put on
that uniform every day. Regardless of the conditions, there were no complaints. It was
just about getting the job done and done right."

Bradley Cooper underwent particularly specialized preparation to become a believable
SEAL sniper, which entailed much more than firing a gun. The actor details, "I trained
with the .338 Lapua, a .300 Win Mag and MK11, which are the three sniper rifles Chris
used, and just becoming comfortable with those weapons was imperative. But there is
this other quality-the ability to operate in very high-pressure situations in a way that's
extremely methodical. It's fascinating what they have to know: how to be prone on a
gun; how you have to have your feet in a certain place and even control your
breathing. And then there's how long these guys stay on the gun. Kevin and I talked
about how Chris could stay on the gun for eight hours without moving, which is an
incredible feat."
"Bradley did not leave any stone unturned when it came to the level of detail he went
to in playing Chris," praises Lacz. "He was like a sponge; he picked everything up so
quickly. His intrinsic motivation really set him apart from anyone else I've ever worked
with outside the actual Teams. He was a natural."
In the film, Chris Kyle's legendary prowess with a rifle is rivaled by an enemy sniper
named Mustafa, played by Sammy Sheik. "He's a Syrian sharpshooter who competed
for his country in the Olympics," says Sheik. "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.'"
Peter Morgan expounds, "The Iraqis have dubbed Chris the 'Devil of Ramadi' and put
a bounty on his head and Mustafa is after him. He also poses a major threat to the
Americans on the ground, so it becomes a key part of Chris's personal mission to take
him out. And who better in the history of cinema to track two marksmen pursuing each
other than Clint Eastwood?" he smiles.
Adding impetus to Chris's mission, one of the Marines on the ground is his own
brother, Jeff, who joined the Corps "to follow in his brother's footsteps," says Keir
O'Donnell, who was cast in the role. "Jeff idolizes Chris for many reasons, stemming
from the fact that Chris always stood up for him from the time they were kids. And their
family dynamic, just having those Texas, Americana roots, is that fighting for our
country is a very heroic thing."
Completing the Kyle family, Ben Reed and Elise Robertson appear as Chris's parents,
Wayne and Debbie, and Cole Konis and Luke Sunshine are seen respectively as Chris
and Jeff in their younger years. The cast of "American Sniper" also includes Navid

Negahban as Sheikh Al-Obodi, and Mido Hamada as the merciless Iraqi enforcer who
demonstrates how he earned the name "The Butcher."

Deployment and Homecoming
Shooting on "American Sniper" began on location in Rabat, Morocco, which doubled
for war-torn Iraq. Eastwood notes, "The architecture of Morocco is very much like Iraq.
You can build sets anywhere to capture a style, but for wide shots that establish the
atmosphere of whole towns or cities...that's harder to mimic, so Morocco was a great
Starting principal photography halfway around the world served a dual purpose. In
addition to Morocco providing the perfect backdrop, "it bonded the actors playing SEAL
Team 3 just by the fact that we were together so much more than if we were going
home every night," says Cooper. "Being in such a foreign place also enabled us to
better imagine what it was like to be in a country so far from home, so we gleaned a lot
from being in Rabat."
The cast and filmmakers also benefited from the cooperation of the local authorities
and Moroccan people, who allowed the production to take over entire neighborhoods.
Members of the Moroccan Army even served as extras for some scenes.
When filming was completed in Morocco, the company returned to California for the
remainder of principal photography. Eastwood's longtime production designer James
J. Murakami and production designer Charisse Cardenas, working with the director for
the first time, took a two-prong approach to the film, with Cardenas concentrating on
the military sequences and Murakami overseeing the homefront.
Cardenas relates, "I did quite a bit of research on Iraq, focusing on Ramadi, Fallujah
and Sadyr City, and took notes from Chris Kyle's own descriptions of his tours of duty.
Our location team in Morocco was also an integral part in helping us achieve the right
look for his years in country."
The production took over the Blue Cloud Ranch in Santa Clarita, California, where the
art department re-created an urban Iraqi environment, closely mirroring the Morocco
locations. Much of Chris's Ramadi tour of duty was filmed at the ranch
One of the climactic battle sequences in "American Sniper" was filmed in the desert
town of El Centro, about 100 miles east of San Diego in the arid Imperial Valley. There,

the design team converted an old milk processing plant into an abandoned date
factory, where Chris and his team are jeopardized by two unrelenting forces: an
overwhelming number of Iraqi insurgents who are advancing on their position from
every direction; and a massive sand storm that threatens to envelop them. The storm
was generated via a blend of special and visual effects, with the VFX team, led by
Michael Owens, also augmenting the sets, as well as the hoard of enemy soldiers.
To bring the audience directly into the action, Eastwood and cinematographer Tom
Stern employed state-of-the-art Blackmagic cameras. Utilizing both handheld and fixed
cameras, strategically positioned throughout the sets, they were able to create the
sensation of being in the thick of battle.
Jason Hall remarks, "Clint has this inherent ability to know where the truth is in every
frame, and he lets the audience find it in the same way that he finds it. He brought a
grittiness to the movie and a sort of sand-in-your-mouth feeling, where it felt authentic
and didn't feel like something that was trying to wring emotion out of you or manipulate
you in any way. He lets it happen and then brings the audience along on the journey."
Two different locations became the training ground for Chris Kyle and his fellow SEAL
candidates. The Paramount Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains served as the
backdrop for the sniper course where Chris proves his targeting skills. Leo Carillo
State Beach in Malibu stood in for the SEALs' infamous BUD/s training center in
Coronado, California, where the mettle of applicants is put to the ultimate test and only
the best of the best earn the right to wear the SEAL Trident.
Though the actors were spared the worst of what real SEAL trainees withstand, there
was no avoiding some physical tests. Cooper recalls, "It was brutal when we were
doing the bicycle kicks while being sprayed with water, especially since Clint will
sometimes let takes go on. I remember looking over at Dauber thinking, 'If Dauber
stops, then I can stop,' but I wasn't going to stop till he did," he laughs.
Murakami largely focused his design efforts on the homes where Chris and Taya build
their lives together. A modest house in Venice, California, was used for the young
couple's San Diego residence, Taya's home base during Chris's long deployments.
When Chris is, at last, home for good, he returns to his roots, bringing his family back
to Midlothian. The Kyles' Texas home was a house in Northridge, which was chosen
because it reflected the openness and scale of Texas while still feeling neighborly. Art
director Harry Otto comments, "James wanted the home to reflect a feeling of comfort
and security as Chris begins to acclimate to his new life as a civilian."

In designing the costumes for the film, Deborah Hopper says, "We did extensive
research and had an array of pictures of Chris and Taya throughout their lives. It was
important to us to stay as close to their own personal style as possible."
Even in the military uniforms, especially those of the Navy SEALs, there was an
element of individual tastes. Hopper's department consulted with military advisors to
ensure the verisimilitude of the uniforms, making sure every detail was accurate.
However, she points out, "SEALs wear their uniforms in their own particular way,
showcasing their personalities."
Key armorer Michael Panevics and his team were responsible for the accuracy of the
weaponry, paying close attention to continuity. Panevics explains, "Chris carried
different weapons on each tour, but we were filming out of sequence, so we were
constantly switching out rifles and side arms as we moved from one deployment to
In his civilian life, "Chris wasn't exactly a fashion icon," Hopper smiles. "His style was
relaxed and casual with a wardrobe consisting mostly of jeans and t-shirts or
sweatshirts and his many baseball caps. In his post war years, Chris moved to Texas,
where his look then reflected his Western roots. It was key to be true to the real people
in every aspect of telling their story."
"I'm really grateful that everybody involved in this movie went above and beyond what
they had to do," Taya Kyle states. "I feel like they did their job with more than they had
to give, and that's very fitting for a man who always gave more than he had to."
Chris Kyle's service to his country did not end when he took off his uniform. Cooper
attests, "Like many coming home from war, it was tough for him because he was
willing and able, but he wasn't able to be over there protecting those still in harm's way.
It wasn't until he started to find ways of assisting other veterans that he found his
"He was very heroic in everything he did over there," says Jason Hall, "but what he did
back home was equally heroic. It's important to recognize that these soldiers chose to
serve, but they don't choose their war. As soon as those boots hit the ground, they
have a mission and they risk everything for us. The things they see and do are
challenging for us to even comprehend, but if we're going to ask them to do it, we have
to be willing to open our arms to them when they come home."

Taya offers, "I've heard it said that when you reach out your hand to help a veteran up,
they won't grab your hand with two hands; they grab it with one and then reach behind
them and pull another veteran up with their other hand. It's so true. I'm excited to see
what people will do, either in honor of Chris's life or because they learned something
from the movie or the book. We all have the opportunity to do a lot of good for a lot of
people who could really use it. In the end, what better life could we have lived than to
know we impacted people in a positive way, and Chris did that. I think the movie is one
more way for him to serve."
Eastwood concludes, "Chris always went one step beyond in everything he did, and
that extended to his work with veterans. Ultimately, that led to tragedy, but that's not
what makes him an important guy or what makes this an important story. What we all
hope is that it will remind people of the sacrifices of soldiers and their families and
make people even more appreciative of those who have given so much in service of
their country."