‘Platoon’ Star John C. McGinley Recalls Intense Training Cast Went Through

by Joe Rutland
(Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)

It was not a vacation for the cast of the Charlie Sheen-starring movie Platoon. Star John C. McGinley does remember days of intense training.

McGinley, who played Sergeant Red O’Neill in the Oliver Stone flick, talked about that time in an interview with ScreenRant.

The Vietnam War-themed flick did have a mental toll on McGinley and other cast members. Among the things they had to learn about was carrying and loading weapons.

They also had to act like soldiers in the field. It proved quite a challenge for McGinley.

‘Platoon’ Actor Talks About Staying In The Jungle, Learning How To Read Maps

“…What was hard was learning how to read maps, load weapons, and be in this triple canopy jungle out in the middle of frickin’ nowhere,” he says.

“We were eating MREs – Meals Ready to Eat – and nobody could poop …” McGinley continues. “Willem [Dafoe] drank water from a river when there was a decomposing oxen downstream and he got medivacked, Tom dropped a knife in his f—king foot – it was just all getting terribly real.

“And there were snakes,” the Platoon actor says. “Two weeks earlier, we were running around New York’s West Village having coffee, bagels, and talking about Hamlet. Now we’re in the jungle with bamboo vipers.”

Platoon also featured Dafoe, Tom Berenger, and Forest Whitaker. It was a big hit, winning four Oscars (including Best Picture and Best Director) grossed more than $138 million at the box office.

Now, Outsiders, presented a down-and-dirty look at the Vietnam War. Stone, though, popped these actors in a Philippine jungle. He left them to undergo a military training course organized by military consultant Dale Dyer.

Military Training Course Would Leave Fello Cast Member Forest Whitaker Injured

And Dyer did the same thing later for the Tom Hanks flick Saving Private Ryan. The Platoon course itself proved to be extremely tough. Whitaker was injured seriously.

McGinley, who also starred in the TV show Scrubs, elaborated on just how much of an effect the rigorous training had on his performance when shooting finally began.

The Platoon actor says there was not much acting involved when delivering certain lines. Why? The intensity of what he had gone through meant it was virtually no effort to believe the reality of what he was saying.

McGinley adds that during the actual shoot, he almost fell out of a helicopter 1,000 feet in the air. This was because the Platoon actor had been so thoroughly drilled never to let go of his weapon.

He held onto that gun when the helicopter suddenly turned. McGinley escaped harm when fellow cast member Francesco Quinn swiftly grabbed his backpack and pulled him back into the airborne chopper. Once that happened, McGinley offered Stone some choice words.