TOUGH SHOOT

Based on the au­to­bi­og­ra­phy of Navy SEAL, pro­lific sniper Chris Kyle, Amer­ica Sniper gives in­sight into how war af­fects those fight­ing

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES PLAY - PETER MITCHELL

In the open­ing scene of Clint East­wood’s new war drama Amer­i­can Sniper, the au­di­ence watches as Bradley Cooper is perched high on a build­ing in an Iraq war zone. Through a scope he spots an Iraqi woman and her young son.

The mother seems to hand a grenade to the boy and sud­denly the 10-year-old runs to­ward a marine con­voy mak­ing a sweep of the area. Cooper’s character has to de­cide if it in­deed was a grenade and whether to shoot the boy dead, or risk watch­ing the marines get blown up.

It’s dra­matic, but not far from the truth.

It’s a sim­i­lar sce­nario Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who went on to be­come the most pro­lific sniper in US mil­i­tary his­tory with 160 con­firmed kills dur­ing four tours of Iraq, faced on one of his first mis­sions days after the in­va­sion of Iraq.

“My whole body, my stom­ach, just turned,” Cooper, re­call­ing the scene with the mother and child, says.

Cooper un­der­went three months of sniper train­ing.

“But it was the first time I was be­hind the scope when we weren’t do­ing tar­get prac­tice,” Cooper says.

“Then I saw the two ac­tors in the scope.

“I moved the gun away and said, ‘We can’t shoot the scene with them there’.

“The gun wasn’t loaded, but I had a glimpse of what a sol­dier has to go through.”

East­wood, Cooper, ac­tress Si­enna Miller and screen­writer Ja­son Hall had more than a glimpse into the life of Kyle, who penned the best-sell­ing book Amer­i­can Sniper about his ex­pe­ri­ences in Iraq. Kyle, his wife Taya and their two young chil­dren wel­comed them into their Texas home.

In a tragic twist, the day after Hall turned the script into East­wood and Cooper, who are pro­duc­ers on the film, Kyle was killed at a shoot­ing range.

“Taya em­braced us a few days after the fu­neral and she said, ‘If you guys are go­ing to do this you need to get it right be­cause this is go­ing to play a part in for bet­ter or worse on how our kids re­mem­ber their fa­ther’,” Hall says.

“She opened her heart to us and gave us this other side of her hus­band.

“What we learned was if you want to know who a man is you don’t ask the man, you ask his wife.”

That open­ing scene was par­tic­u­larly strik­ing for Taya.

“I know that first shot, he didn’t want to do it,” Taya says of her hus­band, who be­came so pro­lific on the bat­tle­field the en­emy put a US$80,000 bounty on his head.

“A woman and a child? Are you kid­ding me?

“He was men­tally pre­pared to shoot a man ... he forced him into a sit­u­a­tion where he had to make a choice – he lets th­ese Marines die or he swal­lows hard and has to do it.

“It hurt him and it pissed him off.”

Pic­ture: WARNER BROS

Kyle Gall­ner and Bradley Cooper in

Amer­i­can Sniper

based on Chris Kyle.

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