Co-author of ‘American Sniper’ delves into film adaptation
Rachel O'Grady | Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Co-author of bestselling book American Sniper and trial attorney Scott McEwen discussed the challenges of staying true to the story throughout the production of the blockbuster film and the importance of accurately representing the life of Chris Kyle, America’s most lethal sniper Wednesday night at Washington Hall.
“Someone said to me, the book sounds like someone walked into a bar, sat down with someone and they turned a recorder on and said tell me about the war, and that’s exactly what the book was. It was about all the experiences of Chris’s life, all those years of war,” McEwen said.
McEwen said the book and its screenplay originally endured some struggles to remain true to the core of what Kyle talked about to him, and he tried to depict that as accurately as possible.
“The story in the book was really about God, family and country,” McEwen said. “I’m not here to preach to you or tell you anything, but I’m just saying that is what Chris Kyle was about. That’s what drove the man to do what he did. That’s what drives a lot of people in the military to do what they do, and that’s why that message resonated so deeply with people when they saw the movie and they read the book.”
Though he faced adversity both with the publishers of the book and the producers of the film, McEwen remained committed to staying true to the story.
“We had a lot of people that wanted us to change that message along the way,” he said. “I personally refused to do it and Chris refused to do it. We were at odds with others at times, but we refused to let it happen and now … I think we were right, and I think we should be recognized for the fact that we weren’t willing to compromise what we were doing.”
In discussing his experience in publishing the book, McEwen challenged young writers to live up to the same level of integrity he had to in producing “American Sniper.”
“My message to you is … if you feel like you have the truth, or you have a message worth telling, then don’t let anyone change you from your attitude or your message,” he said.
Despite some of the criticism the film received, McEwen encouraged aspiring filmmakers to stay on message.
“The film was largely well received and I feel like it made a difference amongst the people I really wanted it to, and that’s those military families that wanted recognition and wanted to be heard,” McEwen said.