People Are Up In Arms Over The Obviously Fake Baby Used In 'American Sniper'

“American Sniper” is currently breaking box office records and garnering critical acclaim with six Oscar nominations, while at the same time igniting a lot of controversy.

The latest issue that has film-goers up in arms is the use of a fake baby in the Clint Eastwood-directed war biopic.

The doll’s stiffness is evident as Bradley Cooper and his onscreen wife, played by Sienna Miller, pass the partially mechanised baby back and forth as they discuss Cooper leaving for another tour during what is supposed to be an emotional scene.

Critics were quick to take notice:

  • “I have never seen so many terrible fake babies in one film.” — The Sunday Times
  • “Laughably fake.” — Film School Rejects
  • “They’re conspicuously wobbling rather than moving, which makes the crying sound effects seem a bit eerily detached.” — The Telegraph
  • “Jarringly fake … There’s just no excuse for that kind of bush-league nonsense.” NewsOK
  • “It’s so obvious, and neither one of them looks like they are comfortable holding it. The weight’s all wrong, and it shows from the way they have to try to liven it up with their own body language. Cooper in particular looks like he’s just plain never held a baby.” — Hitfix

It didn’t get past viewers, either:

But it was journalist Mark Harris
‘ tweet that finally prompted a response from production.

Harris tweeted:

“That plastic baby in American Sniper is going to be rationalized by Eastwood auteur cultists until the end of days.”

“American Sniper” screenwriter/executive producer Jason Hall
replied via Twitter (and later deleted):

“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.”

Many have hypothesized that Eastwood’s fast-paced shooting style didn’t allow production enough time to find another real baby.


The Hollywood Reporter explained the difficulty of having a real baby on a film set:

Shooting in California poses some challenges when employing a real baby given the state’s strict laws (part of the movie was shot in Los Angeles). Infants must be at least 15 days old, and babies from that age up to six months can be employed for only one period of two consecutive hours in any given day. Moreover, that time frame has to be between 9:30-11:30 a.m. or from 2:30-4:30 p.m., and one studio teacher along with one nurse must be on set during filming.

Doesn’t sound ideal for Eastwood’s directing style.

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