Reed Pleased wth "Sniper" Success

Updated 2 years ago Special to HuntingtonNews.Net
Ben Reed
Ben Reed
Warner Bros

(Provided by WVU Sports)

by  John Antonik

Former West Virginia University quarterback Ben Reed is pleased with the box office response American Sniper has received so far.   The new hit movie, starring Bradley Cooper, has already raked in more than $100 million over the weekend and is by far the most successful release ever for director Clint Eastwood.
  The film is based on Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s best-selling book American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History. Kyle served four tours in Iraq and received two Silver Star Medals, five Bronze Star Medals and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals for service to his country. Kyle accumulated at least 160 confirmed kills during his military career.    

Four years after being honorably discharged from the Navy in 2009, and one year after the release of his autobiography in 2012, Kyle was shot and killed by an ex-Marine at a rifle range in Chalk Mountain, Texas.  
  In the movie, Reed plays Kyle’s father, Wayne, and Reed’s three scenes as Kyle’s father help develop the story of how he became one of the most lethal snipers in U.S. military history.     “At the beginning of the film he’s beginning to shoot his first insurgent and he starts having flashbacks,” said Reed recently from his home in San Diego. “My role is to let the audience know how Chris Kyle came to be the man he is, how he got his values, his discipline and his work ethic.    
  “You see us deer hunting at the beginning and you see how he becomes such a good shooter because (his father) taught him how to shoot,” said Reed. “In the movie, you will see my character say, ‘You’ve got quite a gift.’ He’s got a natural gift anyway, but (his father) is training him to be a deer hunter.”
      Another key scene in helping the audience better understand Kyle is a dinner discussion Wayne Kyle has with his young son explaining the three different types of people in the world, as he sees it.        
“There are sheep, there are wolves and there are sheep dogs,” Reed, as Wayne Kyle, explained. “You are not going to be a sheep because they are followers and they can’t protect themselves. I’ll kick your %$# if you become a wolf because they prey on the weak and my character is trying to instill in him to become a sheep dog because they protect the flock and look out for others.”         Reed said playing Kyle’s father was easy to do because he had similar experiences while growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma.         “There is a church scene and my character is a Deacon in the church and you are hearing a sermon,” said Reed. “You see the fire and brimstone type of service he listened to as a child – and I did too because I grew up in Oklahoma and it was a Baptist church I went to so it was kind of fire and brimstone also.”
        Reed said he tried to get in touch with Kyle’s father to learn more about him for his role, but the elder Kyle wasn’t overly interested in participating in the movie.       “He kind of took a hands-off approach,” said Reed. “He told Bradley Cooper and Clint, ‘This is my boy – do it right.’”       Consequently, Reed had to draw upon many of his own personal experiences to help develop his character.   “I’ve got five kids and I’ve taken all of my boys hunting,” said Reed. “As an actor you get a script and it kind of gives you a story but you also bring in your own life and that’s what I had to do. I’ve taken my boys hunting and I felt proud when they got their first deer just like when Chris Kyle shot his first deer with his father.”       Reed said the process to land the role was much like other experiences he’s had during his 20-plus-year acting career.       “I got a call from my manager, went in for the audition, laid it down on video for the casting director and then Clint Eastwood goes and looks at everything,” Reed recalled. “About a month and a half later, I’m driving back to my house and my manager is like, ‘What are you doing?’ ‘I’m driving home.’ He’s like, ‘Good, you’re sitting down because you got American Sniper!’”       Reed’s acting work has run the gamut from feature films to TV to commercials, but he is proud of his latest effort because - Kyle’s complexities aside - it tells a true story. It doesn’t hurt, too, that the film could end up being one of the top-grossing war movies of all time.       “I’m working with Clint Eastwood, who is a legend, and Bradley Cooper just recently got nominated for an Oscar, so I’m getting to work with some great people and I’m just grateful to be a part of the film,” he said.       Reed said he is currently up for two new films as well as a half-hour, single-camera comedy that is in the works for HBO.   “I really like this HBO series because I love doing comedy and acting like a dork so it’s fun. I’m just kind of knocking on wood and crossing my fingers,” he said.       Reed has also taken a stab at producing and recently finished shooting the film Starcrossed, which features Mischa Barton, Grant Harvey, Eric Roberts, Kristin Carey and him.   “It’s the most fun and the most stress I’ve had in 20 years in this business,” he said.   Starcrossed is about a down-on-his-luck writer who encounters a mysterious woman, and over the course of one memorable night together, he rewrites the future.   “My oldest son, who is now 26, his buddy just graduated from film school and he comes to me and he’s like, ‘Mr. Reed, I would like you to read this script I wrote and tell me what you think.’ I read it and I said ‘you know what, I think we can turn this into a film,’” said Reed. “We crafted a script to where we thought we could shoot it, I started to shop it around to see if there were actors and actresses interested in it and then after I did that, I went and found my investment money and we shot it.”   Reed said he is now actively shopping the film for distribution foreign and domestically.   “I don’t have any release dates because it’s still too early yet, but we just finished it,” he said. “It’s exciting because it’s a really good movie and I’m very happy with how it turned out and the actors and actresses in this were just incredible.”   Reed, one of a handful of quarterbacks to see the field for West Virginia between regular QBs Kevin White in 1984 and Major Harris in 1987, said he still keeps up with the Mountaineers as much as his schedule will allow.   There is a group of about 20-25 teammates he says he still talks to on a regular basis, including Pat Marlatt, Bo Orlando, Charlie Fedorco, Brad Hunt and Tony Reda.   “I’m usually in Morgantown once a year because then I can go to Glenville to see my parents,” Reed said. “My brothers also live in West Virginia and go deer hunting with them. We’ve got a hunting cabin and we drink a few beers and tell a lot of lies.”   American Sniper, already nominated for six Oscars, is the type of movie that can possibly open a few more doors for Reed, whose IMDb page now shows 46 credits to date.   “It can’t hurt,” he laughed.   No, it certainly can’t.  
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