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Bradley Cooper surprised by controversy surrounding ‘American Sniper’

Bradley Cooper, who earned a best actor Oscar nomination for his performance as a deadly marksman in Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, said on Monday that he did not foresee how the Iraq war biopic could become a charged political conversation.

“You never know when you make a movie if anybody’s going to see it, so to have the audacity to think that it would cause any sort of effect at all would be pretty presumptuous,” Cooper told reporters at the Academy Awards nominees luncheon.

American Sniper, which tops the US box office and has so far grossed nearly $250 million, tells the real-life story of late US. Navy Seal sharpshooter Chris Kyle, whose 160 kills in Iraq is considered the highest count ever in US military history. The film has been nominated for six Oscars including best picture.

It has become a flashpoint in US public debate with some liberals and conservatives sparring over its portrayal of war, soldiers, and Eastwood’s interpretation of the history leading up to the 2003 Iraq invasion.

Targets of ‘violent threats’
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee has said that its members have been targets of “violent threats” caused by the film’s language directed at Muslims.

Oscar-winning Eastwood, who is a staunch supporter of veterans, has said “American Sniper” has nothing to do with party politics.

Cooper, who is also a producer on the film, said he wants the spotlight to be on soldiers.

“Any discussion that sheds light to the plight of the soldiers and the men and women in the armed services, for that discussion to occur is fantastic,” Cooper said of the film.

Kyle was killed by a disgruntled US veteran at a Texas gun range in 2013 before the film began production.

Cooper has previously been nominated for acting Oscars in 2013 for Silver Linings Playbook and 2014 for American Hustle.

Chris Kyle Day
Meanwhile, the US state of Texas declared February 2 “Chris Kyle Day” on Monday, honouring the late Navy Seal marksman portrayed in American Sniper, two years after his death.

“Today, we commemorate [Kyle’s] passing, and we honour his service and the service of his comrades in arms who have joined him to defend our great nation,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, said in his proclamation.

The film has been nominated for six Academy Awards, including best picture. 

Critics contend however that the film glorifies war and sanitises Kyle, who called Muslims “savages” in his memoir. Some have also drawn issue with Eastwood’s interpretation of the history leading up to the 2003 Iraq invasion.

Jury selection in Kyle’s murder trial is set to begin on Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported. – Reuters

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