American Sniper was a hit over its opening weekend, racking up over $90 million right off the bat. The story is a highly emotional one, the true tale of a Navy SEAL sniper who became a legend for his accuracy and ability to save countless lives in battle. For Bradley Cooper, who gained quite a bit of muscle for the role, the film was a physical one that required him to take part in real Navy SEAL training exercises at the behest of Kevin “Dauber” Lacz, a SEAL who served as a technical adviser on set and eventually played himself in the movie. But the at-home scenes were just as difficult, with Cooper’s Chris Kyle sharing a newborn daughter with his wife, played by Sienna Miller. That’s where things got tricky.
According to a now-deleted tweet from American Sniper screenwriter Jason Hall, the first two choices for infant “actors” were unavailable, so director Clint Eastwood made a snap decision at the last minute and used a lifelike doll, which apparently was all many moviegoers could look at; type in “American Sniper fake baby” on Twitter and you’ll be inundated with posts embedded with photos of Cooper holding the doll and Sienna Miller breastfeeding it.
“Hate to ruin the fun but real baby #1 showed up with a fever. Real baby #2 was no show. (Clint voice) Gimme the doll, kid,” Hall wrote.
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) January 21, 2015
As good as American Sniper is, the scene with the fake baby is mind-boggingly bad. Like high school play bad http://t.co/FjjOxiemh8
— deanshaw (@deanshaw) January 20, 2015
Whichever Oscar strategist launched the American Sniper fake baby takedown is a goddamn genius
— jen yamato (@jenyamato) January 20, 2015
Eastwood hasn’t commented on the now-viral “American Sniper Fake Baby” trend which is hitting the web pretty hard right now, but according to The Hollywood Reporter, having an actual infant on set during filming comes with strict rules that can cause more than a few problems:
Shooting in California poses some challenges when employing a real baby given the state’s strict laws (part of the movie was shot in Los Angeles). Infants must be at least 15 days old, and babies from that age up to six months can be employed for only one period of two consecutive hours in any given day. Moreover, that time frame has to be between 9:30-11:30 a.m. or from 2:30-4:30 p.m., and one studio teacher along with one nurse must be on set during filming.
With that knowledge, it’s not so surprising that the veteran director decided to split the baby’s scenes between real newborns and a doll. Fans of American Sniper just wish they’d wrapped it in a blanket or something, at the very least.