It’s Clint’s best work as a director. By far. For all the reasons that people like it. I don’t think other directors, including myself, could have gotten the same result given the same resources. Clint got an extraordinary result because he is an extraordinary man. There’s no pretension about him. He could be Bradley Cooper, he could be the character. Clint inspired Bradley by virtue of who he is, a principled guy. Clint has remained my friend for over 40 years.
How does Sniper compare with The Deer Hunter?
It’s not, in my view, much like Deer Hunter. Though it was characterized [as such], Sniper’s not a political movie. It’s not about the rightness or wrongness of the war. It deals with the impact of trauma on people who go to war and people who stay behind.
But both Deer Hunter and American Sniper confront the grief of war …
Yes, especially at the end, the way it ends with the flashback to the death of the real protagonist and the reaction of people with flags. It reminded me of [the ending of Deer Hunter, when De Niro,Meryl Streep and others break out and sing] “God Bless America,” which again was not meant to be a political statement. You know, when you’re overwhelmed with grief? You see women in Africa, Arabia, Indonesia wail. But in America, I think what people do is reach out for a common expression. The idea came from an experience in a restaurant in Pittsburgh, where people actually for no reason whatsoever broke into that song. It’s a way of relieving the grief and knitting back a family. I’d never seen that footage before in the ending of Sniper with the multitudes of people. It overwhelmed me.