The wife of a famed Navy SEAL sniper said she struggled with the idea of someone playing the movie role of her husband, who was killed two years ago near Fort Worth, Texas.
But Taya Kyle told The Dallas Morning News that actor Bradley Cooper did an excellent job accurately portraying her husband, Chris, and the difficult decisions he faced while fighting in Iraq and his struggles with determining his role when he returned from war.
In the film, a subtle facial tic that Cooper has as he looks through the scope of his weapon made Kyle nearly forget she was watching an actor on screen, she said.
"It'd be almost like a tell in poker," she said. "In a stressful situation, Chris would do that."
The movie, "American Sniper," is based on Chris Kyle's 2012 memoir that recounts his journey from being a rodeo cowboy to a trained sniper credited with 160 kills. He was honorably discharged in 2009 after 10 years of service, including four tours in Iraq.
In February 2013, Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, were killed at a shooting range. Ex-Marine Eddie Ray Routh is charged with capital murder, and authorities say he confessed to the killings to a Texas Ranger. He remains in jail in lieu of $3 million bail. His trial is scheduled to start next month.
Cooper and the film's director, Clint Eastwood, visited Taya Kyle in Midlothian — about 25 miles south of Dallas — before filming. The trio sat around and talked, with Kyle showing them her husband's baseball caps, cowboy boots and the clothes still hanging in his closet.
"It felt like I had a couple of friends over," she said. "They were very respectful, kind and warm." The Dallas Morning News also reported:
The movie is also about Taya Kyle, who is played by Sienna Miller. Newly married at the time of the 9/11 attacks, Taya struggled with Chris’ absence as a husband and a father.
She credits scriptwriter Jason Hall with creating an accurate portrayal of the tension in her marriage caused by Kyle’s multiple combat deployments and his inability to leave the battlefield behind. Hall spent “hundreds of hours with me,” Taya said. He talked to her at all hours of the day and night.
“I give him so much credit. Writers are often overlooked in Hollywood, but truly he was available, even when it was 1 o’clock in the morning before I could finally talk.”
She said the film, which will open in theaters nationwide Thursday, is a "beautiful gift" to her family and to all military families who have experienced war.
"If you go to combat and you have people who love you at home, some version of this story is your story," she said.