Bradley Cooper Always Knew He Was Going to Work with Clint Eastwood
The American Sniper actor—who was one of W’s February 2015 cover stars—opens up about learning how to shoot a gun, working with Clint Eastwood, and playing the “killing machine” Chris Kyle.
Released on 2/12/2015
I didn't grow up shooting guns.
I tried to talk my father into sending me
to the Valley Forge Military Academy when I was a kid.
And only because of movies, because of war movies.
There was something about Vietnam movies,
Platoon, Apocalypse Now, Deer Hunter,
where I thought there was something these soldiers had.
This understanding about life that I wanted to have.
There was something in their eyes.
I don't know, there's just something
I was always fascinated with.
Every time I could talk to a Vietnam vet
I would ask them a million questions.
I actually fell in love with the training
of an M4 machine gun.
We never trained with live ammo for the A-Team.
In this movie, I did.
The shoot of A-Team was long.
It was a six-month shoot, and we had two months prep,
or a month prep, so I spent every second
I wasn't on set, training.
None of it was in the movie. (laughs)
I don't even think I'd shot anything in the movie. (laughs)
I shot like once inside a train station.
Now I know what it's like to shoot a sniper rifle,
and I really loved the aspect of a Western-like story
in a war setting, and that it's a character study.
It felt a lot like Unforgiven to me, in many ways.
Your hero who's conflicted, who is not very verbose.
All of it is probably gonna be in the eyes.
That kind of thing.
Dealing with a family life, what he does for a living,
and then going out in country to do something.
He's in a way, a killing machine.
At that point, the only way I was gonna get it made
is if I said I would do it.
Chris Pratt was always the guy in my mind
who I thought would've been perfect to play Chris.
He's much bigger, and he just to me,
looked like Chris to me.
I mean I sat across from his father Wayne
who just said you know,
you know you're half the size of my son,
and you don't sound a god-damn thing like him,
so I don't know how you're gonna do it.
Clint just happened to be reading the book recreationally
while he was shooting Jersey Boys.
So I called Clint on a Friday.
Now I had auditioned for Clint Eastwood movies
since Flags of our Fathers.
I put myself on tape.
I put myself on tape to play
the Irish priest in Gran Torino.
And I put myself on tape to play J. Edgar's lover,
which Armie Hammer killed, by the way, it was right.
But I remember that was the closest I'd got.
For some reason I always had this idea
that I was gonna work with Clint Eastwood,
and I know that sounds crazy, but I just had this feeling.
And when that didn't happen I thought, oh man.
So I called Clint on a Friday, and I said hey Clint.
And he said, yeah he said,
yeah I'm reading this sniper book,
and I like it, yeah, yeah.
Why don't you call me on Monday?
We'll talk about it.
I said okay Clint, I'll call you on Monday.
And then Monday came around, called him,
watched Unforgiven over the weekend just to get re-juiced.
It was a very short conversation.
He just said, alright let's make this fucker.
And that was it.
You know what I did?
I have to say, I cried a little bit.
I mean come on, it's Clint Eastwood.
It's pathetic, but yeah, I did.
He and I got along like right off the bat.
I felt so comfortable with him.
I always thought, 'cause you know,
you always see these guys walk in movies.
And I always thought, God he walks like my dad.
You know, his hands were always sort of very loose
by his sides as he walks?
My dad did the same thing.
Matter of fact, I had just went to Walter Reed
when I got the call that Chris was murdered.
We had just shown Silver Linings to a bunch of vets there,
which is so crazy.
People who aren't really familiar with the plight of a vet,
seeing this movie, maybe you would think twice
the next time they see a vet walking past them.
You know, you're often in those airports.
It's so interesting.
There's just some guy sitting at the bar
and you think, what's his story?
The game's on, it's another day, you know?
And you don't even realize where this guy just came from.
And the fact that he just can't come home yet.
Somebody who has gone through it
who feels isolated and alone could look at this story
of this guy and think, oh wow,
I can relate to this guy's story.
If we could tick both of those boxes, total success.