'Gimme the doll, kid': Fake baby in 'American Sniper' draws laughs

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By Randee Dawn

There's a big controversy brewing over the six-time Oscar-nominated movie "American Sniper." It's all about the film's littlest star, and it's got audiences mocking the movie mercilessly.

Apparently, in some scenes, the offspring of characters played by Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller gives a less than lifelike performance. That's because the role is largely played by a doll, rather than a living, breathing person.

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While the movie does show real babies in an early nursery scene, viewers and critics alike were not fooled later on when Cooper's character holds the baby for the first time.

In the age of CGI and other movie magic, how does such a glaring oddity occur on a nearly $60M film? Part of it is that there are strict restrictions on youngsters on movie sets — as The Hollywood Reporter notes, they must be at least 15 days old, and the hours they can be filmed are severely limited.

But there may be an even simpler answer, one that connects with director Clint Eastwood's legendarily speedy movie-making style. Journalist Mark Harris tweeted this at the end of December:

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

—+Mark+Harris+(@MarkHarrisNYC)+December+30,+2014+

Which led to executive producer Jason Hall to tweet back: "[H]ate 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." (The tweet has since been deleted.)

The controversy almost certainly won't make Eastwood's day, but the movie's box office might: Thus far, "American Sniper" has earned over $134M worldwide. Take that, critics!

Check out the movie's trailer:

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