The motion picture American Sniper was released to a nationwide audience in January and has been nominated for six awards, including: Best Actor, Best Picture, Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Best Writing.
In an exclusive interview with Forged, Taya Kyle --- the widow of Chris Kyle, to whom the movie pays tribute --- shared her thoughts and feelings on American Sniper, as well the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation.
You must be somewhat excited and yet saddened to share your and Chris's story, the trials and tribulations of having and raising a family in a wartime scenario, without Chris there to share it with you. How are you holding up?
I am so grateful that we have been able to share a part of our lives with others who are healing through seeing it one step removed from their lives. There is a common thread amongst veterans and first responders and their families. To be able to help the dialogue is such a blessing. I love being able to share more of Chris with the world. I miss him dearly, as do so many others. To have a group of extraordinarily talented people bring the story forward was a gift, to have it well received is still stunning in a beautiful way.
How involved were you and Chris with the initial discussion of making a movie? Bradley Cooper has said that he called Chris on the phone to introduce himself and talk about the movie.
Chris definitely felt good about Bradley playing him. Bradley has depth and humor along with great talent. He went so far above and beyond what I feel anyone else would have done. It couldn't have been a better match.
Were you on set at the movie? What was your working relationship with Sienna Miller who portrays you in the movie?
I didn't go on set for a number of reasons. From what I understand, portraying a real person is hard enough, having family watch you do it can be very distracting. In addition, I was very passionate about the accuracy of our lives being portrayed - flaws and all. Screenwriter Jason Hall did more than he had to do in order to communicate everything I felt and there really wasn't any additional benefit to me being there.
Sienna Miller is an amazingly talented actor and a beautiful person inside and out. We hit it off instantly. She has tremendous emotional intelligence combined with great skill. She understood the emotion when we talked. She FELT what I was telling her in a way that was palpable. We laughed together and cried together as we talked about my marriage and our life. I cannot say enough positive things about her. She had to work quickly to pick up mannerisms and dialect and did it beautifully.
How was it working with Clint Eastwood?
Clint Eastwood is an extraordinary human being. He too has such a witty sense of humor and tremendous heart. He is not afraid to put raw reality on the screen and let audiences take away whatever they choose to. He allows viewers to experience things and have their own conversation afterward. I appreciate that immensely.
Tell us more about the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation and how it came about. Share with us how Chris found the passion to help other veterans. (CKFF)
In January, before he and Chad were killed, Chris was working on a logo that represented his heart. Club Red was a company who he shared his tattoos and ideas with. In March, they came to me and offered to complete the logo at no charge. They also offered to help create a board for a foundation. At the time, I was overwhelmed with work on the movie script, finishing Chris's book American Gun and grieving while raising my kids who were also grieving. I didn't know how I could do a foundation justice, but I welcomed the help with hope for the future. I prayed a lot and I feel God put all the right people in the right place to make the foundation a reality. It requires a lot of money and time to do it right. I found that out along the way. With the amazing team we have, I am in awe of what we have been able to accomplish in what feels like a short amount of time. I couldn't have done it without the people surrounding me who have picked up the ball and run with all their skill and talent to help veteran and first responder marriages. Our mission is to Serving God and Country by serving families who serve. We are so grateful for all of the support we have as audiences understand the toll and the importance of supporting these families. We want them to not only survive their service, but to thrive while serving.
By allowing Warner Brothers to tell Chris's story in 'American Sniper' - and the initial success of the movie at the box office, do you see this affecting your short or long term plans for the Foundation and its programs?
Absolutely. The understanding is pivotal in getting people engaged if they feel led to help.
How can the Forged® audience and others get involved with CKFF?
Sign up at ChrisKyleFrogFoundation.org to get updates on what we are doing and opportunities to be involved going forward.
How do you want Chris best remembered by those who didn't know him?
My passion for Chris was rooted in his humble heart and the way he served others including our family with his charismatic personality, sense of humor and big ole heart. He was an amazing friend, father and husband. As for how he is remembered, perhaps Chris said it best in January 2013 when he said, "I would love for people to be able to think of me as a guy who stood up for what he believed in and helped make a difference for the veterans"
As the provider of American Sniper official licensed merchandise and proud supporter of the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation, Forged® continues its commitment in supporting the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation. For every purchase of American Sniper or LEGEND apparel --- for yourself or as a gift --- a donation will be made to the Foundation. In doing so, you’ll not only enjoy the high-quality lifestyle clothing that only Forged can offer, but you’ll also be supporting the families of service members and first responders who conquer adversity through life’s everyday battles.