Ermey played Gunnery Sergeant Hartman
, the menacing drill instructor
, in Stanley Kubrick
's classic Full Metal Jacket
He was a former real-life drill instructor, serving with the United States Marine Corps
for eleven years until injuries forced him to retire from military duty. Originally hired simply to be a
consultant on how to drill in the Marine style, he demonstrated his technique by videotaping himself yelling profanities
and insults for fifteen minutes straight. He never repeated himself, stopped, or flinched--while having tennis balls and
oranges thrown at him the entire time.
Kubrick was so impressed that he decided just to give him the part instead of having him train an actor.
If you watch closely, you'll see that Ermey almost never blinks in any of the scenes he appears in.
Also, during the filming of Full Metal Jacket
, Ermey was involved in a jeep
accident. He skidded off a road at 1
AM, breaking all of his ribs on one side of his body. He kept flashing his car lights until a passerby stopped, refusing to
pass out. Because of the injury, Ermey doesn't move one of his arms at all in certain scenes in the movie.
Since Full Metal Jacket
, Ermey has gone on to play minor roles (usually of a military nature) in other movies such as
, Toy Soldiers
, Dead Man Walking
, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult
, Leaving Las Vegas
, The Frighteners
, and Toy Story 2
Ermey is currently the star of his own TV series, Mail Call
, in which he answers military-related questions submitted by the viewers.