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Full Metal Jacket 1987: Ronald Lee Ermey

Ronald Lee Ermey

(No one, I mean, no one messes up with the drill sergeant – more so if the drill sergeant is Gunnery Sgt. Hartmann played by Ronald Lee Ermey. Gunnery Sgt. Hartmann is furious after finding out a hidden food in the recruit’s personal box. Image source:

I am watching Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” and I must say Ronald Lee Ermey as Gunnery Sgt. Hartmann looks too real, too scary and certainly impressive.

I have “met” Ronald Lee Ermey in his show “Lock N’ Load With R. Lee Ermey” – shown in Astro’s History Channel. He looked tamed in this show but he is a quite a different man, playing the role of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in the Full Metal Jacket.

And there is an interesting fact on how Ronald Lee Ermey got the part:-

Former US Marine Corps Drill Instructor R. Lee Ermey was not originally hired to play Gunnery Sgt. Hartman but as a consultant for the Marine Corps boot camp portion of the film.

He performed a demonstration on videotape in which he yelled obscene insults and abuse for 15 minutes without stopping, repeating himself or even flinching – despite being continuously pelted with tennis balls and oranges. Stanley Kubrick was so impressed that he cast Ermey as Gunnery Sgt. Hartmann

The videotape demonstration was not the only factor which got R. Lee Ermey the role as the drill instructor. Ermey went to Stanley Kubrick and asked for the part, as the actors on the set were, in his opinion, not up to snuff.

When Kubrick declined, Ermey barked an order for Kubrick to stand up when he was spoken to, and the director instinctively obeyed. That sealed the matter, and Ermey won the part as Gunnery Sgt. Hartmann.

(Source: IMDB)

And Ronald Lee Ermey was so good with his role, he also improvised on his dialogues:-

Much, if not all, of R. Lee Ermey’s dialogue during the Parris Island sequence was improvised. While filming the opening scene, where he disciplines Pvt. Cowboy, he says Cowboy is the type of guy who would have sex with another guy “and not even have the goddamned common courtesy to give him a reach-around”.

Stanley Kubrick immediately yelled cut and went over to Ermey and asked, “What the hell is a reach-around?” Ermey politely explained what it meant. Kubrick laughed and re-shot the scene, telling Ermey to keep the line

Impressive piece of acting indeed!

2 thoughts on “Full Metal Jacket 1987: Ronald Lee Ermey”

  1. Ermey is a buffoon who paints all drill instructors as moronic bullies, it’s just not the case. Most are intelligent, serious individuals who understand that they have a very short time to teach young men and women a lot of important things. The men who went through Ermey’s platoon hit Vietnam with two strikes against them. I hope most of them got non-combat roles (as did Ermey).

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