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WVU alum relishes role in ‘American Sniper’

By Staff | Feb 3, 2015

Ben Reed, a 1988 graduate of West Virginia University, plays Chris Kyle’s (Bradley Cooper) father in the film “American Sniper”.

LOS ANGELES – Former West Virginia University player Ben Reed is thrilled to be playing Chris Kyle’s father in the Oscar-nominated movie “American Sniper.”

His role as Wayne Kyle in the hit movie ranks at the top of the acting experiences for Reed, a former quarterback at West Virginia University with a connection to Glenville, in his 25-year career as an actor, he said.

“It’s a great story,” Reed said. “It touches the heart of the audience.”

He sees the movie as containing elements of heroism and patriotism.

“American Sniper” is based on Navy SEAL marksman Chris Kyle’s best-selling book. Kyle is credited with 160 sniper “kills” during the Iraq War while protecting other U.S. military servicemen.

Reed said the story describes a soldier’s life before, during and after a decorated U.S. military career.

Reed read for the part in March and filming started in the summer. He liked what was written for the part of Wayne Kyle.

“The story is amazing. (The film) being nominated for an Oscar is gravy,” said Reed, who lives in Los Angeles.

Reed said he knew “American Sniper” would receive some “attention” because it was directed by Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper portrays Chris Kyle.

Nominated for six Academy Awards, “American Sniper” grossed a record-breaking $105.3 million for the opening weekend of Jan. 16-19.

Reed described Eastwood as being an amazing director, and a nice, kind and generous person.

“He (Eastwood) is an actor’s director,” Reed said, adding Eastwood gives suggestions and knows what he needs.

“To be a part of the amazing life story of an American hero like Chris Kyle and working with Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper I would have to say yes this ranks at the top of my acting experiences so far,” Reed said in an email Sunday. “That fact, that it has been received the way it has is a wonderful tribute and memorial to a great American soldier,” he said.

Reed’s parents, Jack and Wanda Reed, live in Glenville. Ben Reed, who grew up in Oklahoma, returns to Gilmer County at Thanksgiving to see family, friends and to go deer hunting. He also attends a WVU football game in November.

Reed, 49, played quarterback at WVU in 1986 and ’87 and graduated in 1988.

He still keeps in touch with several former Mountaineer football players, including Brad Hunt, Bo Orlando and Pat Marlatt.

Reed said he has produced his first film and is working on getting it distributed. Reed’s IMDb page lists 46 credits as an actor in television shows and movies.