Bradley Cooper Talks American Sniper Controversy With Terry Gross On Fresh Air

This week on Fresh Air, Terry Gross interviewed fellow Philadelphian Bradley Cooper about American Sniper and his work in The Elephant Man, which is playing now on Broadway in New York.

The first part of the nearly hourlong chat delves into the much-reported controversy surrounding Sniper, in which Cooper plays a sharp-shooting Navy SEAL sniper during the war in Iraq. Liberals say the film doesn’t do enough to emphasize that that troops should never have been in Iraq in the first place, and that it glorifies a mission gone wrong. Conservatives—like Sarah Palin—say hogwash.

War is such an emotional subject, so maybe I was a fool to think that it wouldn’t [start a controversy]. … The box-office results show that millions and millions of people are going out to see the film. And clearly, it’s starting a discussion and outside of just the political arena. It’s starting a discussion about what vets go through and what men and women in the armed services – what their plight is as they go into theater and what their families have to deal with. And I think that’s something that 99 percent of the population, myself included, just had no idea what that is like. So if for nothing else, that this movie could shed a light onto that 1 percent that have sacrificed themselves for our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, you know, that’s a wonderful thing.

The latter part of the interview is more candid. Gross and Cooper talk about everything from getting into character for his role in Sniper to his weight gain and how his portrayal in the film is more similar than you’d think to his role as severely disfigured protagonist John Merrick in The Elephant Man.

It’s interesting to me; I see more similarities between Joseph [Merrick] and Chris [Kyle] than differences and I’ll explain what I mean. Chris, if you watch any interview with him — [he’s] not very animated physically, it’s all in his eyes. He doesn’t even move his head that much and he always had a dip in his mouth so his lower lip was always sort of protruded. … And also the Texas accent, it’s a very closed-mouth way of talking. He had to express a lot of what he was feeling and doing through his eyes and his voice — very similar to Merrick, so I actually see a lot of similarities in terms of the approach of the way these two men walked through their lives.

Listen to the full interview below, or on the Fresh Air site here.