The recently premiered “American Sniper,” a movie based on the life of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, is getting loads of critical attention and praise alike. Some claim the movie is propaganda, while others defend its credibility and patriotic values.
Directed by Clint Eastwood, the movie stars Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle. Ben Reed, an alumnus of West Virginia University, stars as Chris’ father.
“I went and auditioned, and Mr. Eastwood looked at the tape and liked it, and that’s how I got chosen to be Wayne Kyle,” Reed said. “It’s a great story, the story of Chris Kyle. There’s heroism, patriotism, and being a part of something like this is really pretty cool.”
Reed shared a personal connection not only with the story, but also the characters themselves.
“I thought I could really do a good job with it as well because Chris Kyle’s from Texas, and I grew up in Oklahoma, so I kind of have the same up-bringing, and my father is kind of like Chris Kyle’s father,” Reed said. “So I thought it was something I could get, and I did.”
Rather than simply reading the script, Reed read the book “American Sniper,” written by Chris Kyle himself and researched the topic through the wealth of information available on the internet.
“Then, I also have a brother who is an Army Special Forces Green Beret,” Reed said, “and I called him up, spoke with him, and then I spoke with my father about sending his son off to war knowing that he might get killed and just picked both of their brains.”
While the thought of working with Bradley Cooper or Clint Eastwood might be a nerve-racking experience for most people, Reed has been acting for more than 20 years and has been around many of what us outside of the industry call stars.
“It’s like going to work,” Reed said. “You show up, do your job and then you leave. (Cooper) was very nice, very kind on the set. Clint Eastwood was kind as well.”
Reed recently made his debut as executive producer of the up-and-coming movie, “Starcrossed.” He got the script, money and cast together, as well as starred in it.
“Everything, from the ground up,” Reed said. “As an actor you just go to a set, you show up, you do your thing and then you leave. Executive producer is from sun up to sundown, and then there’s just so much involved with pre-production. Shooting the thing is easy…Post-production, you have to work on the sound, the coloring–there’s just so much involved that I never really thought about before I actually got to do it myself.”
Reed graduated from WVU in 1988. Through his growing success, the motto “Once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer” still rings true.
“It was great,” he said, to sum up his time here in three words. “It was a fun time. I played quarterback on the football team, so that was a fun time for me. I’m still great friends with a lot of people I went to school with. I talk to them all the time on the phone.”
Reed said acting is a hard job where people are always giving you limits and have low expectations for your career. The trick is to persevere through all of the doubt.
“I’m very passionate about my work,” Reed said. “Just don’t give up. Follow your passion. If this is what you believe in, then just don’t quit.”