American Sniper was far from Clint Eastwood’s worst film. Based on the memoir of the same name, the movie followed the life of Christopher Kyle, the deadliest marksman in US military history. Cooper starred as Kyle, while Sienna Miller co-starred as his wife, Tara.
The Clint Eastwood-directed flick is far from the worst movie of all time, with a 71% aggregated score on Rotten Tomatoes, but one key prop stops it from being Eastwood’s best movie, too. And for those who have watched American Sniper, you know exactly what I’m talking about: it’s the fake baby. Unfortunately, the obviously fake baby has become the most infamous part of the Clint Eastwood movie, but its origins aren’t as outrageous as you might expect.
In a now-deleted tweet (via Vulture), screenwriter Jason Hall made it clear that the prop baby wasn’t exactly their first choice. In fact, they initially had a real baby for the scene, but were soon forced to improvise when the young performer fell ill.
“Hate to ruin the fun but real baby number one showed up with a fever,” he wrote. “Real baby number two was a no show.” He then went on to claim that Eastwood followed this up on set by saying, “Gimme the doll, kid,” which in itself is kind of iconic.
Less iconic is how, according to the Hollywood Reporter, at least one press screening reportedly erupted into laughter when the baby appeared on-screen. The inclusion of this prop may have stopped American Sniper from being considered one of the best war movies of the year, but at least it made for some funny anecdotes with the cast.
During an appearance on Ellen, Cooper recalled how “nuts” the experience was. “I literally couldn’t believe it,” he said. “Like I couldn’t believe we were working with the plastic baby. I was like, ‘This is nuts,’ Eat your heart out, Muppets. I have to say, I grew to be very fond of that [doll]. I fell in love with that plastic thing.”
Hopefully, Eastwood’s next new movie will be a little better. For more creepy prop babies, here’s how to watch all the Twilight movies in order. Or, if hearing about Eastwood has got you in a more Western mood, check out our guides to the best Westerns and Yellowstone season 5 part 2.