R.I.P., Gunny: Hollywood Says Goodbye to R. Lee Ermey

Hollywood, CA: Golden Globe-nominated actor R. Lee Ermey has passed away at the age of 74. The U.S. Marine veteran and famed character actor died of complications from pneumonia on Sunday. The sad news was announced by Ermey’s longtime manager, Bill Rogin, on the actor’s official Twitter page.

Ermey was best known for his role as the infamous Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in Stanly Kubrick’s Vietnam war film Full Metal Jacket. Though he appeared in a number of movies and television shows, none would be as memorable as the iconic, insult-slinging “Gunny”—who would become the model for Hollywood’s hardcore, boot camp sergeants.

Digital Addicts Gunny R. Lee Ermey Full Metal Jacket

Famous “Gunny” Quips from Full Metal Jacket:

  • Well it looks to me like the best part of you ran down the crack of your momma’s ass and ended up as a brown stain on the mattress! I think you’ve been cheated!
  • You climb like old people fuck, private pile!
  • I want that head so sanitary and squared away that the Virgin Mary herself would be proud to go in there and take a dump.
  • What is your major malfunction, numbnuts? Didn’t mommy and daddy show you enough attention when you were a child?
  • How tall are you, private? ….Five-foot-nine, I didn’t know they stacked shit that high!

How the Career of R. Lee Ermey Came About

Ermey took up acting and found himself cast as a helicopter pilot in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, and served as a technical adviser on the film. He also played a Marine drill instructor in Sidney Furie’s The Boy’s in Company C. He was originally hired to train another actor for Sgt. Hartman in Full Metal Jacket, but was offered the iconic role by Kubrick himself, who was impressed by Ermey during rehearsals. That performance got the actor nominated for a Golden Globe award.

Digital Addicts Gunny R. Lee Ermey Full Metal Jacket

The Real R. Lee Ermey

Aside from playing hard-shelled soldiers on the big screen, Ermey was a real-life U.S. Marine Corps drill instructor and staff sergeant who served over a year in Vietnam. He also completed two tours in Okinawa, Japan, and was an honorary gunnery sergeant. He retired from the military after 11 years of service. In a 2010 interview by the Spokesman Review, he said that he’s really not like the characters he plays. “I’m basically a nice person.”

Other Films Featuring R. Lee Ermey:

  • The Frighteners
  • Mississippi Burning
  • Prefontaine
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  • Fletch Lives
  • Se7en
  • Saving Silverman

Ermey also made a career out of doing voice-over work, landing the role of the leader of the green, plastic, army men in the Toy Story films. In addition, he voiced characters in multiple movies, shows, cartoons, and video games. More recently, Ermey was the host of the Outdoor Channel’s GunnyTime With R. Lee Ermey.