“American Sniper” has drawn praise and criticism from both sides of the American political spectrum, but director Clint Eastwood acknowledged that the central controversial figure in his film wasn’t the stone-cold killer he’s been made out to be.
“There’s that little moment where the psychiatrist asks, did you ever do anything you regret?” the directed recalled a scene from his film. “There’s a little spot where Bradley [Cooper] takes a little moment, and you can see in his eyes, he’s looking back into history, and he gets slightly defensive, and he says, ‘No, I can go to my maker knowing I did the right thing.’ But you know somewhere in there he had some doubts along the way, like a person would under that circumstance.”
Eastwood spoke about his process to an audience at the Producers Guild Association’s Nominees Breakfast on Saturday, ahead of the award ceremony the same evening.
Joining the producer-director on stage were fellow PGA nominees Alejandro G. Iñárritu for “Birdman,” Richard Linklater for “Boyhood,” Jeremy Dawson for “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Jon Kilik for “Foxcatcher,” Cean Chaffin for “Gone Girl,” Teddy Schwarzman for “The Imitation Game,” Jennifer Fox for “Nightcrawler,” Lisa Bruce for “The Theory of Everything” and Helen Estabrook for “Whiplash.”
As TheWrap previously reported, even as “American Sniper” breaks January box-office records and revels in six Oscar nominations, criticism over the subject of the film, sharpshooter Chris Kyle, has risen and reached into award season.
The film’s straightforward treatment of Kyle, who was killed in February 2013 by a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, is one of the reasons it has been celebrated by the military and embraced by audiences that have made it by far the top-grossing Best Picture nominee.
Eastwood also sees one very obvious anti-war statement in “American Sniper,” and it’s encompassed in the relationship between Kyle and his wife, played by Sienna Miller.
“It’s about the families, what war does to families. To me that’s the biggest anti-war statement of any such film,” Eastwood said of war movies, including his own, which include not only “Sniper” but the 2006 one-two punch of “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters From Iwo Jima.
“What war does to families, and the people who have to go back into civilian life, like Chris Kyle did — after World War II, everyone was just told to go home and get over it. Now there is some effort to help people get through it. In Chris Kyle’s case, it was no good deed went unpunished. Now with all the controversy we’ve had in our government over the treatment of vets, we’re straightening all that out.”