Full Metal Jacket star R Lee Ermey dies at the age of 74 4 years ago

Full Metal Jacket star R Lee Ermey dies at the age of 74

The actor gave one of the most powerful performances in cinema history in Stanley Kubrick's war classic.

R Lee Ermey, whose powerhouse performance as a drill sergeant in Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket is generally regarded as one of the best in cinema history, has died at the age of 74.


Ermey passed away from complications arising from pneumonia.

The former marine and veteran of the Vietnam War achieved fame somewhat by accident; he was initially employed as a technical consultant, given his military experience, by Kubrick but wanted the role of Gunnery Sgt Hartman so badly that he sent the director an audition tape of him shouting insults while being pelted by tennis balls.

“In the course of hiring the marine recruits, we interviewed hundreds of guys. We lined them all up and did an improvisation of the first meeting with the drill instructor. They didn’t know what he was going to say, and we could see how they reacted. Lee came up with, I don’t know, 150 pages of insults,” Kubrick said.


Ermey had more than 60 roles in his lifetime, and featured in films as diverse as Apocalypse Now, Se7en and Dead Man Walking.