Bradley Cooper defends ‘Sniper’ against anti-war critics: ‘It’s not political’

Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper’s pounding the pavement for American Sniper, which goes wide this week. The movie should attract a strong military audience, for whom Navy SEAL Chris Kyle is something of a legend. My perception of Bradley’s limited press tour is that he pursued the role as Oscar bait, but it turned into much more for him. That’s just a guess, but the movie had just been greenlighted when Kyle was murdered. That upped the stakes for Bradley in terms of honoring Kyle’s memory.

Bradley’s fending off blowback from critics of the film, which (oddly) is mostly coming from people who haven’t watched it. Some of them have read (parts of) Kyle’s book and are calling him a “hate-filled killer” who shouldn’t be called a hero by “simplistic patriots.” They’re calling the movie “American horsesh*t.” The Daily Beast was on hand for a screening at the U.S. Navy Memorial where Bradley spoke about the criticism. Coop also touches upon what we discussed yesterday — the difficulty of reacclimation to civilian life after a deployment ends.

BCoop says this movie isn’t a political discussion: “My hope is that if someone is having a political conversation about whether we should or should not have been in Iraq, whether the war is worth fighting, whether we won, whether we didn’t, why are we still there, all those [issues], that really–I hope–is not one that they would use this movie as a tool for. And for me, and for Clint, this movie was always a character study about what the plight is for a soldier. The guy that I got to know, through all the source material that I read and watched, and home videos–hours and hours–I never saw anything like that. But I can’t control how people are gonna use this movie as a tool, or what they pick and choose whatever they want. But it would be short-changing, I think. If it’s not this movie, I hope to god another movie will come out where it will shed light on the fact of what servicemen and women have to go through, and that we need to pay attention to our vets. It doesn’t go any farther than that. It’s not a political discussion about war, even … It’s a discussion about the reality. And the reality is that people are coming home, and we have to take care of them.”

This is a “universal” study of warriors & family lives: “I wouldn’t even put it [just] to Iraq. That happens to be Chris’s story. Our whole idea was to do a character study about a soldier, and a soldier and a family, and what it’s like having to deal with the schizophrenic nature of having to jostle between a home life and being in theater. I think hopefully it could be a universal story.”

Taya Kyle responds: “I haven’t noticed much of [the criticism], but I think that even Mother Teresa can be criticized by somebody, somewhere, doing it just wanting to spread their own hatred. But the people who knew Chris, and certainly the life that he lived, proved that it’s quite the opposite. He was not a hate-filled person. He was just a man doing his job. There were people who were going to kill his brothers or Iraqi civilians, and he had a choice to make. Either he lets that happen, or he takes on the price of taking somebody else out. I think if we all take it to a personal level and imagine what that must be like, like if you had your family standing there, and I was running at them, would you just let me do that, or would you try to stop me in any way you could? It’s actually a love thing, it’s not a hate thing.”

[From Daily Beast]

Sigh. This is a sticky subject. I see what Bradley’s saying about Sniper being a case study of one particular soldier and his struggles to balance work and family. But this guy’s work just happened to involve killing people, and there’s no way around that topic. People are going to have strong feelings, either positive or negative. If you’re going to make a movie that is about the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history … you can’t pretend that it’s not at least a little bit political. Still, a lot of the criticism is based upon assumptions from people who haven’t watched the film, which is unfair.

FYI: The Beast also quotes VP Joe Biden as saying the film is “intense, man.” Biden was reportedly moved to tears by the movie’s ending.

Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper

Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet, Pacific Coast News & WENN

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44 Responses to “Bradley Cooper defends ‘Sniper’ against anti-war critics: ‘It’s not political’”

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  1. NewWester says:

    Bradley raised some good points, but that photo of him in the shorts is too much

    • Bread and Circuses says:

      I know. All that intelligent, well-reasoned discussion just flew right out of my brain when I saw those over-tight, khaki lederhosen.

    • perplexed says:

      Do military people really wear shorts like that?

      • spurc says:

        Yes, yes they do. If I recall correctly, they (the shorts) are limited to Navy special warfare units. Not just SEALs but also divers.. and…??. We called them UDT shorts… I think. Lol, it’s been a few years. But those crazy things are standard govt issue for a particular group of Sailors.

  2. scout says:

    Cooper just got the nom for Oscar!

  3. ell says:

    i can’t believe he got nominated again. ugh.

    • insomniac says:

      I’m not surprised. We can side-eye Jennifer Aniston’s hustle (and I see that neither the JenHens nor the Brangeloonies have anything to crow about today), but BCoop’s friends were *really* pushing him.

    • Meaghan says:

      He was REALLY good in this movie. I can’t get over how great of a job he did, and think he deserved it. Give the movie a shot, I didn’t think I’d like it going into it but ended up loving it. He reminds me of Chris Pratt in it a bit.

      • Kitten says:

        I’ve never seen him put out a bad performance, but it’s true that I haven’t seen every movie he’s ever been in.

        I think a lot of the dislike he gets is based on his appearance (see yesterday’s BCoop thread).

        I’m excited to see this movie.

      • Giggles says:

        I agree with you. We saw it last weekend and I can’t stop raving about it. He did a great job and that’s coming from someone who is not a Cooper fan.

      • TheOnlyDee says:

        I’m kind of new here, but I’m a little taken aback that he is so unliked by commenters here at CB. I enjoy most of his films. I think he is handsome, too. Different strokes!

      • Ashley says:

        The Only Dee – I agree with you. People on this site have kind of weird hypocritical tendencies – promote feminism but constantly bash particular female celebrities over and over. Random hate and love for specific actors that’s completely subjective. Bradley Cooper is an AMERICAN TREASURE

    • Scarlet Vixen says:

      I agree @Kitten: I’ve appreciated every role I’ve seen him in, and because of this site I actually went into the first movie of his that I decided to watch thinking he was going to be a talentless douche. I admire that he has taken some pretty diverse roles. I especially liked him in “The Words” with Zoe Saldana, and his voice role in “Guardians of the Galaxy” was my favorite part of that film. I wasn’t crazy about the movie “Limitless” but I liked him in it. I think he has some subtle tricks up his sleeve that a lot of people don’t pay attention to because of his ‘serial killer eyes’ and pre-conceived notion that he’s just a dumb pretty boy.

  4. kri says:

    It is hard to get past The Shorts Heard Round The World.

  5. Ellie66 says:

    What in the heck is wrong with his face in the 2nd pic? He looks weird he is a bit red and puffy. 🙁

  6. Sixer says:

    Well, I’m an anti-war activist, if activist means you go on anti-war marches and write rude emails to your MP about wars your country is engaged in. That wouldn’t put me off a character study of someone who took part in one of those wars which also has points to make about how your country treats its vets. It wouldn’t put me off a political film that took an opposite position about one of those wars either – you haven’t got an opinion worth having if you won’t challenge it.

    I MIGHT get annoyed if I went to see a film that everyone involved told me was a character study but turned out to be a political polemic, though (like I did with The Fifth Estate). Not saying that’s necessarily the case here, but these actors do protest too much sometimes.

    I doubt I’ll see American Sniper but, frankly and apolitically, that’s more a matter of THOSE SHORTS. They hurt my eyes.

    • Esmom says:

      Agree. And I think BCoop was essentially making the same point. There was a recent piece in Slate, I think, by a guy who was criticized for saying soldiers shouldn’t be called heroes. What he was saying was that mindless, forced patriotism is dangerous and that you can admire (or sympathize with or mourn) the soldier(s) while also being against war.

      And yes, those shorts. I’d just barely gotten over my glimpse of them from yesterday.

    • Brandii says:

      A lot of the people who have seen it say that it doesnt explore the most important theme when doing a character study on soldiers – whether he ever considered that the lives he took were of soldiers just like himself. Whether he had any empathy for those families he broke. Instead the film dismisses the other side as “savages”, (apparently an unchallenged line in the movie, stated without irony) and then focuses on the PTSD issue. The implication being this good American soldier has nothing to feel remorseful for and the disease is tragic consequence of failing to accept this truth and national neglect of vets. I

    • Sixer says:

      @esmom – yes, it’s most annoying to be told that if you didn’t support a particular war, you are therefore against proper support services for returning vets. Two entirely separate things.

      @Brandii – well, I’ll withhold judgement until, if ever, I watch the film. But, if it should turn out as you describe, I’d criticise the former (dismissal of the other side as savages) and support the latter (if you’re going to send soldiers to war, you have a responsibility to the people you send).

  7. kri says:

    THE SHORTS have been nominated!!!

  8. db says:

    I’ve not seen it yet, but from I’ve heard the film glosses over just how troubled Kyle actually was. Whatever. It’s a movie.

    Bradley’s shorts are far more disturbing.

    • Meaghan says:

      I don’t think it glossed over it, it was just subtle about it. Like this one scene he was at a car shop waiting for his car to be fixed with his son, and he kept hearing this tool sound that reminded him of Iraq and he kind of shuddered and looked scared. It was subtle, but it was there. There was another scene where his kid was playing with the dog and he had a PTSD episode and almost killed the dog to protect his son. It is in there, its just not slap in your face in there.

      • db says:

        Ah, ok. I guess the point was made hard enough for some tastes. thanks

      • Dee Kay says:

        I loved these subtleties that @Meaghan mentions. These were the best moments of the film, for me. When Kyle would show — never, ever tell — how deeply traumatized (imo) he was by this job he kept insisting on going back to. Cooper was AMAZING in this film, blew me away with his performance.

        BUT the film is political. I totally see what Cooper is saying but there is no such thing as a war film that “doesn’t take a side.”

      • Kitten says:

        Guys–keep in mind that Kyle’s widow was a consultant on the film. I’m sure Jason Paul felt a duty to represent Kyle as sensitively as possible, which means treading lightly when it comes to showcasing his personal problems.

        You cannot imagine how difficult it is to make a movie about something as controversial as a Navy SEAL who was the most deadly sniper in US history, and please everyone.

  9. Franny Days says:

    If anything I think American Sniper was somewhat anti-war. No spoilers, but I don’t think they glamorized fighting and definitely showed the horrible trauma soldiers endure and come home with after combat.

    • Scarlet says:

      I felt the same Way! When I was watching it, I thought to myself, ” Why are we not finished with this? Why are we sacrificing lives for this madness? ” These radicals are gaining ground, and while watching the movie I thought, we are taking the wrong tactics here. What we are doing is NOT working. They’re going to infiltrate us , they are not afraid of death and there is no middle ground with these radicals. It was terrifying. Cooper was amazing. The film was amazing.

  10. Wren33 says:

    People actually do criticize Mother Teresa. I think it is hard when the private becomes public, and someone you love becomes a tool for discussing larger political issues.

  11. Catherine The Great says:

    I’ve never been a BCoop fan but damn, give me a beefcake in daisy dukes anytime, anywhere. And before you ask: yes, I’m a pervert! 🙂

  12. Jayna says:

    I ended up seeing this and it is more of a character study and all that soldiers endure. I didn’t see it as pro-war or anti-war, more the hardships of it all on these men.

    And let me just say, Bradley Cooper is brilliant in it. He deserves an Oscar nom.

    • Dee Kay says:

      Definitely he deserves the Oscar nom. Definitely. The film? Not so much (for me). But the Academy has 10 slots for films, so okay, American Sniper can be in there at the top 10. But for sure Cooper was one of the best performances of the year. I would say “the best” but I haven’t seen Keaton in Birdman yet.

  13. frviolity says:

    If this film was trying to be a character study, it failed miserably. It was full of pro-military, anti-Muslim propaganda (even conflating the hunt for Al-Qaeda with the war in Iraq – just as the Bush administration did and just as may Americans still do!).

    I will say that though that Bradley Cooper did an excellent job with the material he was given. (And I don’t much like him at all …)

  14. wolfpup says:

    Guns are political on every front, nationally and internationally – end of the day.

    My ex was in the military – I didn’t like it *at all*; except for the travel.

    I met a dude recently who was a Vietnam vet. He told me that 9,000 soldiers died in the Iraq war, where 58,000 men and women were killed in Vietnam. He told me that when he returned to the states, that there were so many people spitting on the returned soldiers on the tarmac, that they had to be taken to an airport restroom because they were soaked! He said, that as awful as the flashbacks were, that this was the most heartbreaking event for him; because he had gone against his own conscience for the American government, to be so involved in any killing. He said that he dreamed of an old women’s face, and the children armed with bombs…

    I don’t understand how civilians in a country, (let alone the soldiers), can endure such a thing as war. Childbirth is simple compared to this – are there any comparisons, really – to the harm committed to the human psyche and bodies, in war? So much destruction – what the H*ll?

    • cr says:

      “He told me that when he returned to the states, that there were so many people spitting on the returned soldiers on the tarmac, that they had to be taken to an airport restroom because they were soaked! ”

      While there was plenty of abuse hurled at returning Viet vets, a lot of the spitting instances appear to be not based in fact, or if they did occur, seem to have been embellished into something much larger than there were.

      War is hell, and yet we as humans keep engaging in it.

  15. seb says:

    What’s the big deal about the shorts? They’re Navy issued dive shorts.

  16. aemish says:

    Another perverse movie glorifying slaughter of human beings.

  17. Sister Carrie says:

    I will totally criticize Mother Teresa.

  18. Danskins says:

    Yet another pro-war, anti-Muslim film.

  19. Lauren says:

    I saw the movie last night, and it was incredible. It moved my boyfriend to tears by the end. It is very much about what he went through, and not about the politics war. It gives a glimpse of what these military men and families go through.