He served 11 years in the Marine Corps before making a career in Hollywood.
Los Angeles, US.- R. Lee Ermey, a former Marine who made a career in Hollywood playing hard-nosed military men like Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket,” has died. Ermey’s longtime manager Bill Rogin says he died Sunday morning from pneumonia-related complications. He was 74.
The Kanas native was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for his memorable performance in “Full Metal Jacket,” in which he immortalized lines such as: “What is your major malfunction?” Born Ronald Lee Ermey in 1944, Ermey served 11 years in the Marine Corps and spent 14 months in Vietnam and then in Okinawa, Japan, where he became staff sergeant.
His first film credit was as a helicopter pilot in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now,” which was quickly followed by a part in “The Boys in Company C” as a drill instructor.
He raked in more than 60 credits in film and television across his long career in the industry, often playing authority figures in everything from “Se7en” to “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” remake.
The part he would become most well-known for, in “Full Metal Jacket,” wasn’t even originally his. Ermey had been brought on as a technical consultant for the 1987 film, but he had his eyes on the role of the brutal gunnery sergeant and filmed his own audition tape of him yelling out insults while tennis balls flew at him. An impressed Kubrick gave him the role.
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: How tall are you private?
Private: Sir, five foot nine, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Five foot nine, I didn't know they stacked shit that high!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Where in the hell are you from anyway, private?
Private: Sir, Texas, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Holy dog shit, Texas! Only steers and queers come from Texas, private Cowboy! And you don't look much like a steer to me so that kinda narrows it down.
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: You had best un-fuck yourself or I will unscrew your head and shit down your neck!