Actor/producer Ben Reed. Photo Credit: Bobby Quillard.

Actor/producer Ben Reed. Photo Credit: Bobby Quillard.

GALO: It is my understanding that you weren’t able to meet the real Wayne Kyle before shooting the film because the family decided not to be involved with the movie. Do you feel that you did his character justice? What do you think meeting him would have done for your role, or perhaps you felt that there was less pressure and more of a creative license without his presence?

BR: After everything that I’ve read and everything that I brought into it from my own life, and what I’ve heard from people who have seen the movie, I do hope for my sake and for the Kyles’ that I portrayed Wayne in a true and honest manner. I know from what Taya Kyle has said that she is happy with the film. If I had met Wayne, I could have picked up physical mannerisms, how he moved and a better sense of what his accent is — just stuff like that. That is what really helps. There wasn’t a lot of video on Wayne, but there was a lot of video on Chris. That is one reason why Bradley Cooper did so well with the character, because he had the video and could see how he spoke, moved and laugh. That is an actor’s dream — to be able to have that kind of library to draw from. Because it didn’t happen, I don’t really know what I was missing.

GALO: American Sniper was recently nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture. The film reportedly made Joe Biden cry and had Bradley Cooper on the defense when people who were anti-war started bashing Kyle’s name. Would you say the movie deserves the high praise? And what makes it different from other war drama films?

BR: How lucky am I to be a part of such a great film and for it to be nominated for an Oscar? That doesn’t happen every day. It’s a great movie. How it portrays the soldier’s life and dealing with PTSD is great in the sense that it shows the audience a sense of what it’s like. Every good film needs to be recognized — and this is a good film. I mean, I’m not big on awards, rewards and stuff like that, but if this is part of the game of filmmaking and part of the process, then yes, I do think it deserves it.

I said it before; the difference with this movie is how it portrays the stuff at home when the soldier comes home.

GALO: There are some people out there who are calling Chris a hate-filled killer because of some of the things written in his memoir. What do you think about all of the controversy regarding him that keeps appearing in the news media?

BR: It was a war and things do happen in wars. It is not a patty-cake type of situation; it’s life and death. I’ve never been in the situation and could never imagine it — but I think it would take its toll mentally. If you are always worried about a bomb being thrown at you or being shot, or even a little kid wearing explosives, you would always be on edge. Look at our regular lives that we have and what toll that takes on us, which is hard enough. Then think about someone trying to kill you too. I kind of stay out of the controversy because I am not a political guy. I think some of the people have spoken out of turn and that is their view. Do I agree with it? No. But that is why we live in the society that we live in [with our freedom of speech].

GALO: You decided to become a producer almost on a whim. The San Diego Film Festival crowd loved Starcrossed (a movie about a writer who finds his muse in a mysterious woman and rewrites his future all in one night, set for theaters in 2015). What exactly pushed you to decide to take on this project (script was written by a friend of Reed’s son named Chase Mohseni) and turn it into a movie? What was the most difficult part of transforming it from the script into a film?

BR: I had thought about it for years, it’s kind of like when I found the article at the beginning of my career. I have been very lucky about things just kind of appearing. I am a very big believer in putting things out in the universe and that the universe will answer. This script came to me and I was like, “yeah, let’s do this.” First of all, if I am going to produce something at this point in my life, I am going to produce something that I am also starring in. So I needed to pick a script that had a strong role for me, and there was one in this script and it was very complex. You get different sides of a man. The role of Anthony Bishop was complex for me and not my usual go-to role. That is one of the things that drew me to the film.

When you meet someone who turns your life around almost instantaneously, isn’t that falling in love? When you meet that special person, the path becomes clearer. It’s a very sexy and dramatic movie. There are a lot of twists that get revealed as the film progresses.

I’m dealing with the writer of it, and they put their heart and soul into stuff. Sometimes it is hard for them to want to tweak something because they want to do things a certain way. But you also have to kind of play to the crowd/audience. You make a film to find an audience; you don’t just want to write something down — you have to appeal to that audience, too. We left the base of everything that Chase wrote in the film. I don’t like to go to movies and walk out of there and not feel good. I want to walk out of the movie with a little hope that those two characters might or might not have a future. It needs finality. He had to tweak the script for two to three months before I agreed to do it. It happens with every producer/director/writing situation.

GALO: Now that you have dabbled in film production, you seem to really enjoy it. It is clear that you don’t plan to put your acting career on the back burner, even though you’ve become a producer. In the future, how do you think that you will be able to manage both at the same time (aside from starring in films you produce)?

BR: I think that it will all work itself out. It just does. I don’t want to stress out about the future; I would rather wait until it gets here. But I do know that I don’t want to take six months to a year off from acting.

GALO: Can you give us a little more information on the two pieces you will be producing in the coming year? Will you also be starring in these movies?

BR: I’m not telling you. I am keeping you in the dark. But one is kind of a cop drama/thriller, and the other one is set during the civil war and is a pretty dark piece. It deals with the prisons during that time. I am just trying to finish the scripts right now, so they haven’t been cast yet. I wouldn’t call it editing, but we are putting our thoughts together and tweaking the scripts. They won’t be out in 2015 though, but we do expect to start shooting one of them in May. It just takes a long time to do stuff. For Starcrossed, it took us a year and a half from getting the script and working on it to casting the film, etc. Usually on a major movie like American Sniper, shooting takes about three to six months, but they shot it in 42 days. We shot Starcrossed in 16 days, and I think it’s the best work Mischa Barton has done in years. The chemistry between her and Grant Harvey in the film is just magic. And yes, I will be starring in these movies.

GALO: I’m curious to know one thing. If you wrote a memoir like Chris Kyle did, or produced a movie about your life, what would you name it, and what would be the main lesson? And if it were a film, who would you cast to play you and your family?

BR: I would name the movie “Never Quit.” The lesson would be to follow your dreams. I don’t care what business or what line of work, but you are going to get hurdles thrown at you. There will always be roadblocks. You just have to figure out how to get over them, around them or under them. You need to follow your dreams and your passions. Life is tough, I’m telling you. I don’t know who I would cast, that is a good question.

“American Sniper,” which is currently playing nationwide, has been nominated for Best Picture for the 2015 Oscars, along with a nomination for Best Actor (Bradley Cooper), Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Adapted Screenplay. Tune in Sunday night at 7E/4P to watch the 87th Academy Awards and see who takes the Oscar home.