R. Lee Ermey, Hollywood’s most beloved military tough guy, has sadly passed away. His memory will live on in the characters he gifted us with, like his pivotal role in Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Full Metal Jacket’, where he played the indelible Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. Ermey famously yells the line, “God has a hard-on for Marines because we kill everything we see! He plays His games, we play ours! To show our appreciation for so much power, we keep heaven packed with fresh souls!”
On April 15th, Ermey’s own soul departed and left behind the career of the archetypal badass of modern pop culture. Ermey was a Vietnam veteran who was medically discharged from service in 1972. He initially entered the movie business as a technical consultant and extra, until Kubrick granted him the co-lead status in ‘Full Metal Jacket’ after being taken by his drill instructor-like conduct.
Kubrick, known for his precise adherence to the script, allowed Ermey room to improvise which resulted in some unforgettable moments on film. His performance in the movie opened up several opportunities thereafter including roles in ‘Miami Vice’, ‘Mississippi Burning’, and ‘China Beach’, in which he played similar characters. Ermey showed an impressive versatility in his acting, like when he played Bruce Campbell’s dad on ‘The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.’, he was able to laugh at himself and add a comedic spin to his established tough and uncompromising persona.
In a statement from R. Lee Ermey’s longtime manager, Bill Rogin, Ermey is described as a “selfless man” who has done “great things for, and on behalf of, our men and women in uniform.” Rogin states that along with delivering us unforgettable characters on film, “The real R. Lee Ermey was a family man, and a kind and gentle soul. He was generous to everyone around him. And, he especially cared for others in need.”
He added, “There is a quote made famous in ‘Full Metal Jacket’. It’s actually the Riflemen’s Creed. ‘This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.’”
Rogin concludes, “There are many Gunny’s, but this one was OURS. And, we will honour his memory with hope and kindness. Please support your men and women in uniform. That’s what he wanted most of all. Semper Fi, Gunny. Godspeed.”
Along with his acting, Ermey was active in charity work and was outspoken in his support of the military. Today we honour him for his service and the many years of joy he brought us through the big screen.
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