American Sniper: Anti-War Film per Director Eastwood

“The biggest antiwar statement any film” can makes is to show “the fact of what war does to the family,” Clint Eastwood said at Saturday’s Producers Guild Award Nominees Breakfast, which took place at The Saban Theater in Beverly Hills.

The Warner Bros. film has become a flash point for heated debate since its wide release on Jan. 16, reeling in praise and sharp criticism for its portrayal of the Iraq War and the decorated veteran Chris Kyle.

The breakfast brought together producers from all 10 of the films nominated for The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures, which will be awarded later this evening at the 26th annual Producers Guild Awards at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel.

All 10 of the participants at the breakfast have earned the PGA’s Producers Mark, p.g.a., certifying that they have performed the majority of producing duties on their respective films.

In addition to Eastwood, the participants included Alejandro G. Inarritu (Birdman), Richard Linklater (Boyhood), Jeremy Dawson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Jon Kilik (Foxcatcher), Cean Chaffin (Gone Girl), Teddy Schwarzman (The Imitation Game), Jennifer Fox (Nightcrawler), Lisa Bruce (The Theory of Everything) and Helen Estabrook (Whiplash).

PGA president Gary Lucchesi led the panel discussion.

“It’s the casting in a movie that puts you halfway home,” Eastwood explained of the Iraq War drama, adding that Bradley Cooper made a major effort to bulk up by 40 pounds during pre-production.

“Bradley was constantly eating — 8,000 calories a day,” Eastwood said, also noting that the actor subsequently slimmed down for his Broadway performance in “The Elephant Man.”

Eastwood said he and Cooper met with the family of Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL portrayed by Cooper, in order to be able to depict the war’s impact on the home front — which the director also did in his 2007 WWII film “Letters From Iwo Jima.”

“The biggest antiwar statement is what it does to the families left behind,” Eastwood said.

The event, held at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills, attracted a large crowd for a panel of producers from each of the 10 films nominated for the PGA’s Darryl Zannuck Award.

Alejandro González Iñárritu evoked multiple laughs from his stories of producing and directing “Birdman,” saying that he too had an interior voice — whom he called “Torquemada” — providing constant criticism.  “All of us have a Birdman,” he noted.

“You’re chipping away, and you get an elephant when you were trying for a deer,” Iñárritu added of making the film. “The film is a cosmic miracle.”

“Nightcrawler” producer Jennifer Fox said that star Jake Gyllenhaal went the opposite way of Cooper for the part, losing 30 pounds to get the “hungry” look of a predator to go along with the noirish look of the film, which she said was inspired by Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver.”

“Boyhood” director Richard Linklater credited his daughter Lorelei, who stars in the movie, as being its inspiration.  “My daughter was kind of dragging me through my childhood again,” he said.

Meanwhile, “Gone Girl” producer Cean Chaffin induced big laughs from the industry crowd with her reference to the movie as “David Fincher’s first romantic comedy.”