SEAL BEACH – Residents and small-business employees of Old Town Seal Beach are grateful for the city’s time in the spotlight this week after the film crew for Clint Eastwood’s latest movie, “American Sniper,” stopped in Old Town Seal Beach to shoot a few scenes.
The Warner Bros. film stars Bradley Cooper as the late Navy SEAL who recounts his military career, and is based on the autobiography of the same name by Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who claimed to have the highest sniper kill rate in U.S. military history. The movie, based on Kyle’s autobiography, is scheduled to be released in 2015.
Filming took place at O’Malley’s on Main Irish Pub and the Seal Beach Pier, Seal Beach city recreation manager Tim Kelsey said. In the last three to four years, television shows like “CSI: Miami” and “Cougar Town” have been filmed in Seal Beach, but not a major motion picture, he said.
“This brought excitement and is a new thing for us,” Kelsey said. “As far as a major motion picture, we haven’t had one for a long time.”
Brian Kyle, owner of O’Malley’s on Main, said the scenes shot at the bar and the pier involved Cooper’s character, Chris Kyle, meeting his future wife at O’Malley’s, where they had a few drinks and conversation before they walked along the Seal Beach Pier around sunset, Brian Kyle said.
“I felt honored, not only by the meaning of the story, but because of the characters and Warner Bros.,” Brian Kyle said. “I got the A-team. An A-movie.”
The real Chris Kyle met his wife, Taya, in a bar while he was training in San Diego in 2001, according to biographical information.
Through O’Malley’s 16 years in Seal Beach, Kyle said his pub and restaurant have been featured in four other movies and television shows, including the 1999 film “American Pie” and the 1980s television show “Knight Rider.”
Kyle said he was approached about two months ago by the movie’s location manager. During filming, he said nothing was done to change the look of O’Malley’s, and that the film crew was very professional.
Brian Kyle, his son Sean and O’Malley’s manager Kelly Cleek were the only employees on the set and made the food displays for the shoot. He said Eastwood was very friendly and “not Hollywood” in his attitude or mannerisms, but rather down-to-earth.
“I had two beers with him,” Kyle said. “He said it was ‘a natural pub’ and that it feels good in here.”
O’Malley’s windows were covered with black cloth during the day to shoot the “night scene,” but Kyle said about 300 people stood on Main Street’s sidewalks on Wednesday night trying to catch a glimpse of filming. The roads were not closed, but residents said there were not many parking spaces available that day.
“I wouldn’t want (film crews) around 24-7, but having things here and there brings excitement for the locals,” Kyle said. “I was excited that (Eastwood) liked our town.”
Judy Iacovetti and Victoria Tuzet, sales associates of Temecula Olive Oil Co., said the number of people on Main Street during filming Wednesday was equal to that of a special event weekend, such as when the Seal Beach Classic Car Show takes place or a parade is happening on Main Street.
“It’s a positive thing for our area and our businesses,” Iacovetti said. “Traffic was monitored by police. It was very well-organized.”
Tim Kirk, a shop assistant at Sea Bright Fashions, which is next door to O Malley’s, said he did not notice a huge crowd during the day, but thought it was inconvenient to have film crew trucks in the area during normal business hours with normal traffic.
Seal Beach resident Dean Bruce said he saw Main Street during the day and night on Wednesday and estimated there were about 75 more people on Main Street than usual on Wednesday.
“It was good energy,” said Bruce, 67.
“Film crew members were here all day, since 10 or 11 a.m. and took up a lot of parking. People were hanging around outside talking about the movie, trying to see something.”
Bruce, a former bit-part actor, said he met Clint Eastwood when they both had roles in the 1978 film, “Every Which Way But Loose.” He also said Eastwood was a very friendly person.
He said the small-town charm of Seal Beach might add to its popularity as a filming location for movies and television.
“A lot of people don’t know about Seal Beach,” Bruce said. “It’s one of the better-kept secrets. It’s not like Long Beach or Huntington Beach, where the crowds can be noisy and out of control.
“I imagine if you’ve never been to Seal Beach, you’d want to come back,” he said.