R. Lee Ermey, an ex-Marine Corps drill instructor, who is known to several moviegoers for his role as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s movie “Full Metal Jacket”, died on Sunday morning due to complications from pneumonia. He was 74 years old.
Bill Rogin, Ermey’s manager confirmed the news about the actor’s death on Ermey’s Facebook account, where Rogin wrote, “It is with deep sadness that I regret to inform you all that R. Lee Ermey (“The Gunny”) passed away this morning from complications of pneumonia. He will be greatly missed by all of us.”
Nicknamed as “The Gunny”, Ermey did not just play the roles of members of the military in several of his films, but he was one in his real life as well. Ermey, born on March 24, 1944, in Emporia, Kansas, enlisted himself in the Marine Corps in the year 1961, when was just 17 years old. He served his duty for 11 years before he was retired in the year 1972 and ventured out to Hollywood.
After Ermey took several classes of acting, he got his first role as a helicopter pilot in the year 1979 in the Vietnam War epic “Apocalypse Now” in the year 1979 and also served as a technical adviser to movie director Francis Ford Coppola on the movie. Around the same time, he earned another role as a Marine drill instructor in ‘The Boys in Company C” which was directed by Sidney Furie.
However, he did not get a big break until eight years. Ermey was initially supposed to be a technical adviser but later, Kubrick offered a memorable performance as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in “Full Metal Jacket” in 1987. Ermey’s performance in the movie was critically acclaimed and recognized. Moreover, he had also earned a Golden Globe nomination and a “Best Supporting Actor” award from the Boston Society of Film Critics for his role in the film.