The actor, who starred as the late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle in the film, rolled with laughter after Ellen DeGeneres brought up the topic during Monday’s Ellen show. (Watch it above!) DeGeneres played footage of her recent interview with Sienna Miller (who played Chris’s wife, Taya Kyle, in Sniper), as the actress pointed out Cooper’s puppeteering technique with his doll-like co-star. “To try and make it look like a live baby he does a wiggle with the arm,” she said. In stitches, Cooper shared, “I couldn’t believe that we were working with a plastic baby. I was like, ‘This is nuts.’”
According to Sniper screenwriter Jason Hall, Eastwood opted to use the imitation infant when other options ran out: “Hate to ruin the fun but real baby No. 1 showed up with a fever. Real baby No. 2 was no show. [In Clint voice] Gimme the doll, kid, ” he tweeted earlier this year in response to an unkind tweet on the topic.
The kicker, as shared by Cooper on Monday, happened on the day the scene was filmed. The actor joked to the crew, still in character as Kyle and holding the infamous fake baby, saying, “I’m gonna save you all, like, $100,000 [in special effects costs] — and I just started doing this [motions thumb up and down as if wiggling the fake baby’s arm].” Added the actor: “Eat your heart out, Muppets.” In the end, Cooper’s skilled-yet-obvious thumb movement saved the team from creating a computer-generated version of the tiny tot’s wiggly arm. “It didn’t fool anyone,” noted DeGeneres. “I fell in love with that plastic thing,” Cooper said with a laugh.