Taya Kyle, the widow of “American Sniper” former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, says she’s grateful for the success of the movie about her relationship with her husband — the most deadly marksman in U.S. history — and for the six Oscar nominations the film earned this week.
But the 40-year-old mother-of-two says the way America has embraced the Clint Eastwood-directed movie will still never heal her heartbreak over the loss of her husband.
“I miss him so much. I loved being in his arms. I loved holding his hand,” she said in a tearful interview with People magazine. “I was madly in love with him and still am.”
Chris, 38, was killed on February 2, 2013, when a former Marine the sniper was trying to help with post traumatic stress disorder shot and killed him and pal Chad Littlefield on a Texas gun range.
“But what I miss most about Chris is the feeling when he was in the room,” Taya added. “He just changed the feeling whenever he walked in. I missed him even when he was just gone from the room.”
“American Sniper”, which also details Chris’s perilous combat tours in Iraq, grossed $90 million its first weekend — the top-grossing Oscar nominee ever.
Here’s what you need to know about the brave wife he left behind.
1. Taya Was Portrayed in the Movie by British Actress Sienna Miller
British beauty Sienna Miller looked virtually unrecognizable with dyed red hair as sniper Chris Kyle’s widow. The 32-year-old and Taya, 40, became fast friends during the filming and even gave a series of promotional interviews together.
The two women bonded as Sienna sought to give a true picture of the Kyles’ marriage.
But the actress was back with the blonde locks her fans recognize at the movie’s Hollywood premiere.
2. Taya Threatened to Leave Chris if He Kept Going Abroad to Fight — But He Died on a Gun Range in Texas
Chris and Taya met in April 2001 in a bar named Maloney’s in San Diego but after they wed the following year she became such an emotional wreck worrying about him fighting in Iraq that she told him she would leave him if he didn’t leave the Navy SEALS.
Tragically, on February 2, 2013, Chris was at the Rough Creek Ranch-Lodge-Resort gun range in Erath, Texas, when he was shot by 25-year-old Marine Corps veteran Eddie Ray Routh, whom Chris was trying to help recover from PTSD. Taya remains pro-gun despite what happened to her husband – who had 160 confirmed kills out of 255 probable kills during his military career.
3. Taya Will Never Forget Her ‘Slow Talking Texas Man’
More than 7,000 people attended a memorial service for Chris at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, where Taya broke down in tears last year as she spoke about “my slow-talking Texas man.”
She described herself as broken but said the family will “put one foot in front of the other” to get through their grief and told her two children, Colton and McKenna, that they will remember Kyle’s silly side, Texas twang and prayers they prayed together.
4. Taya Is Writing Her Own Autobiography
Taya is writing a memoir called ‘American Wife: A Memoir of Love, Service, Faith, and Renewal.‘ Taya shares the couple’s private journey in “a moving and universal chronicle of love and family, service and patriotism, grief and sacrifice, faith and purpose.”
She was born in Oregon the daughter of Kim and Kent Studebaker. Her father was the mayor of Lake Oswego, Oregon.
In her memoir, Taya attempts to answer the question: how do you carry on after the death of a hero? The book, published by William Morrow, comes out on May 5.