Steven Spielberg’s decision to make American Sniper his next directing project comes as something of a surprise. The filmmaker has rarely drawn on contemporary subject matter, preferring instead to dip back into history (Lincoln, Munich, Saving Private Ryan, etc.) for his human-scaled dramas. Although he’s also signing on as a producer, Spielberg is coming to American Sniper — a biopic about real-life super soldier Chris Kyle, the deadliest sniper in American military history — as something of (pardon the pun) a hired gun; Bradley Cooper has already spent a year developing the project as a starring vehicle through his production company after acquiring the rights to Kyle’s book of the same name.
Kyle’s life was incredibly complex, cinematic — and ultimately tragic. It’s no surprise that Spielberg would want to tell his story.
1. Kyle killed so many people during his career as a Navy SEAL — 160 — that Iraqi insurgents nicknamed him the Devil of Ramadi.
And that’s only his confirmed kills. Some reports put his tally almost twice as high. He told Time magazine last year that he does not regret any of them.
2. Kyle did four tours in Iraq, earning the Silver Star twice, and the Bronze Star five times.
As a D Magazine profile put it, “He survived six IED attacks, three gunshot wounds, two helicopter crashes, and more surgeries than he could remember.”
3. In 2010, he reportedly killed two armed assailants at a gas station.
He allegedly did it with his back to them, firing from under his armpit. You read that right.
4. There were also some downsides to his training: Before returning to bed in the night, his wife always had to say his name out loud.
If she didn’t, Kyle told Time, he would “come up swinging.”
5. After coming home, Kyle founded a private military contracting company called “Craft.”
Their logo was a Punisher-style skull, and their motto words spoken by Kyle’s late Navy SEAL buddy Ryan Job: “Despite what your mamma told you, violence does solve problems.”
6. He also went Hollywood, appearing in an episode of NBC’s short lived military/celebrity reality show Stars Earn Stripes.
He was paired with Dean Cain, hence the Superman t-shirt.
7. On Feb. 2, 2013, Kyle was killed by a 25-year-old Marine allegedly suffering from PTSD.
Kyle had taken Eddie Ray Routh to a Texas shooting range, reportedly to help him work out his trauma. Instead Routh turned the gun on Kyle and another man named Chad Littlefield, killing them both. Kyle was 38 years old.
8. Around 7,000 people attended his funeral.
It was held in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.