“Full Metal Jacket” – one of the most memorable war films in movie history – debuted in theaters on this day (June 26) in 1987.
Directed by the legendary director Stanley Kubrick, the film tells the story of a platoon of United States Marines during the Vietnam era. The story follows them as they enter boot camp in Paris Island, South Carolina, all the way to the war-ravaged country of Vietnam.
In addition to having Stanley Kubrick at the helm, the film had a very solid cast of actors who brought its characters to life. According to IMDb.com, the cast of “Full Metal Jacket” includes Matthew Modine as Pvt. Joker, R. Lee Ermey as Gny. Sgt. Hartman, Vincent D’Onofrio as Pvt. Pyle, as well as Adam Baldwin as Animal Mother just to name a few.
R. Lee Ermey’s Performance Stood Out in This War Film
Some of the most memorable moments in “Full Metal Jacket” are those between Ermey’s character Gny. Sgt. Hartman and D’Onofrio’s Pvt. Pyle. Those of you who have seen the movie will know that Pyle is actually a nickname bestowed up D’Onofrio’s character by Hartman. It is a reference to Gomer Pyle from “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” To say that Hartman is tough on Pyle is a huge understatement. Hartman is downright cruel to Pyle.
This treatment led to severe consequences for both Pyle and Hartman. (Spoiler alert for those who haven’t seen the film!) Hartman’s treatment eventually pushes Pyle over the edge. He kills Hartman, then commits suicide in front of Pvt. Joker.
Hartman may be a character some viewers of “Full Metal Jacket” truly hated. But, the role made a star out of R. Lee Ermey. His work in the film was so acclaimed that he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. He was also nominated for a support actor award by The Boston Society of Film.
This Kubrick war film was not the only famous war film Ermey acted in during his career. He also appeared in “Apocalypse Now,” which was directed by Francis Ford Coppola. He also served as an adviser on the film because of his military service as a United States Marine in Vietnam.
You can watch a trailer for Stanley Kubrick’s film “Full Metal Jacket” below.
One Actor Gained 70 Pounds for His Role in ‘Full Metal Jacket’
While acting in a film is not as serious or dangerous as going to war, one actor on “Full Metal Jacket” did go through a lot of physical changes for his role. That actor was Vincent D’Onofrio.
He reportedly gained 70 pounds in order to portray Pvt. Pyle. This weight gain broke an acting record set by Robert DeNiro for his role in “Raging Bull.” DeNiro gained 60 pounds for that film.
Gaining those 70 pounds set a record, which was still true in 2020. Doing so took the actor seven months. He needed nine months to lose it.