The real deal

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Showbiz - By LIND­SEY BAHR

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 Kansas na­tive was nom­i­nated for a Golden Globe Award for his mem­o­rable per­for­mance in Full Metal Jacket, in which he im­mor­talised lines such as: “What is your ma­jor mal­func­tion?”

His co-stars Matthew Mo­dine and Vin­cent D’Onofrio tweeted their con­do­lences Sun­day evening.

“#Sem­perFidelis Al­ways faith­ful. Al­ways loyal. Do not go gen­tle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dy­ing of the light,” Mo­dine wrote, quot­ing the Dy­lan Thomas poem. “RIP amigo. PVT. Joker.”

Vin­cent D’Onofrio added: “Ermey was the real deal. The knowl­edge of him pass­ing brings back won­der­ful mem­o­ries of our time to­gether.”

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.

Kubrick told Rolling Stone that 50% of Ermey’s di­a­logue in the film was his own.

“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.

Ac­cord­ing to Kubrick, Ermey also had a ter­ri­ble car ac­ci­dent one night in the mid­dle of pro­duc­tion and was out for four and half months with bro­ken ribs.

Ermey would also go on to voice the lit­tle green army man Sarge in the Toy Story films. He also played track and field coach and Nike co-founder Bill Bow­er­man in Pre­fontaine, Gen­eral Kramer in Toy Sol­diers and Mayor Til­man in Mis­sis­sippi Burn­ing .–AP

Photo: AP

R. Lee Ermey 1944-2018

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