By Dalton Ross

“Clint shoots people in movies; I shoot people in real life,” joked former NAVY Seal and Middlefield native Kevin Lacz to an audience of nearly 400 at a charity dinner in Cromwell, CT on the night of Feb. 8.

When the autobiography of longtime friend and former SEAL Team 3 member Chris Kyle, American Sniper, was in its early stages of becoming a motion picture Lacz was brought to the set to bring authenticity, his job being to teach Bradley Cooper to shoot. Cooper quickly convinced Lacz to play himself in the film. The decision cleared quickly with director Clint Eastwood. Lacz spoke regarding his experience working with some of Hollywood’s finest stars.

“You know you’re going to get a great quality movie,” Lacz said. “But they’re trying to play my job, so it wasn’t intimidating. It was kind of reassuring knowing that they were going to get it right.”

Having been deployed to Iraq in both 2006 and 2008, Lacz spoke regarding the lessons learned from setting foot outside his immediate comfort zone while making his on screen debut.

“You learn presence: presence around the camera, presence on set. It’s all confidence,” Lacz said. “If you’re not confident, you’re going to look awkward, you’re going to look funny in front of the cameras.”

To adequately play himself, recreating moments fragile in nature, Lacz relied on memories of his combat experience.

“I had the writer and Bradley tell me: go back and think about those events. You know, go back and think about the thoughts, smells, sounds…you know everything you can recollect and put it in that bank in your mind and put yourself back in there,” Lacz said. “And that was the best element…to go back, rethink it and then get in the moment.”

The film, and Lacz’s action of portraying himself, has come under fire from a variety of individuals, both with and without military affiliation. Calling said individuals “detractors,” Lacz spoke of the necessity of public testimony.

“I’m a pupil of history, you know, I love history. The sands of the Middle East have been fluctuating – ebb and flow – for so long and the stuff that we did in 2006 before and up until now has changed quite a bit, so I think it’s important that we talk about that,” Lacz said. “I think it makes it easier too for people to transition because if we suppress stuff, like we suppressed sexuality the Victorian era then you have this huge revolution. If we suppress competition and we suppress violence, then it makes it worse in society. I think the more we talk about it, the healthier it is. Suppressing anything is not good.”

After his honorable discharge from the Navy Lacz, a Bronze Star recipient, graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2011 with a degree in political science. In the summer of 2014 he received his Masters of Health Sciences at Wake Forest University and then became a certified Physician Assistant. The former frogman is not sure where the future will take him, but he said acting his not been ruled out.

Photo courtesy bagogames on Flickr

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