‘American Sniper’ Screenwriter Explains That Fake Baby Everyone’s Complaining About

Senior Editor
01.20.15 51 Comments
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Warner Bros.

As American Sniper becomes the latest battleground in the nation’s endless, asinine culture war, it’s nice to know that people on every side can still come together to ask what was up with that fake baby. Was Chris Kyle a hero? Should he be celebrated? But seriously, what was going on with that baby? That baby was so fake it was almost… some kind of… false flag. BABEGHAZI! #tcot #randpaul2016

You can see it below, and note the super creepy animatronic hand gestures 44 seconds in. It’s even more fake looking than the CGI baby in Children of Men, so I guess practical FX loses this round. Though, if putting a hat on a doll counts as “practical FX,” then I’m Rick Baker.

From Vulture:

Why would an otherwise-competently made film include a creative decision this bad? In a since-deleted tweet, Sniper screenwriter Jason Hall explained:

“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.”

Ah yes, it all goes back to Clint “Ol’ One Take” Eastwood and his famously brisk (brusque?) directing style. As Armie Hammer told Moviefone during the press tour for J. Edgar:

I do find it fascinating that you went from a David Fincher movie to a Clint Eastwood movie, considering their directorial styles.
As polar opposite as you can get. Absolutely.

Is there any exaggeration there? Is Eastwood really like, “cut, print, let’s move on”?
There would be takes that we did where I was under the impression we were shooting a rehearsal. Or that the cameras weren’t even on … and that’s what we used.

Really? There were times that you really didn’t think the cameras were on?
Oh, yeah, definitely. At one point he was like, “OK, cut, print.” And I was like, “Whoa, whoa, Clint, I had my sides in my hands, I thought we were just rehearsing that.”

“Sides” are script pages, by the way, he wasn’t holding his actual sides because of Clint’s hilarious knock-knock jokes or anything. But I appreciate Eastwood’s directorial style. Growing up, I could never understand why old people drove so slow. If you have a limited time left on the planet, wouldn’t you want to get places quicker? Clint Eastwood directs like old people should drive.

“Another take, Mr. Eastwood? I really think I can do that better.”

“That’s great, kid, but my tacos are gettin’ cold.” (*spits tobacco juice on Armie Hammer’s frilly ascot*) (*turns to empty chair*) “Why are you just standing there? Go fetch me my tacos!”

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