Golden Globe-nominated actor R. Lee Ermey, best known for his role as the incendiary and brutal Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s classic Full Metal Jacket has passed away at 74. The sad news was announced on his Twitter account by his long-time manager, who shared a photo of the actor.
Ermey wasn’t just an actor playing a hard-nosed drill sergeant, he had a long career in the Marines, which he joined at the age of 17. He rose to the rank of staff sergeant before being discharged due to multiple injuries he suffered during his service.
After leaving the military, he found his niche in a series of acting roles that began in Apocalypse Now. Initially hired as a technical advisor for director Francis Ford Coppola he also played a chopper pilot. That kicked off a career filled with military-based roles, but he expanded out to have well over 60 acting credits over his career.
Beyond playing a drill sergeant (multiple times), he was in two Texas Chainsaw Massacre films and lent his voice to Kim Possible, all three Toy Story movies, and Invader Zim to name a few. He also had an impressive career in video game voiceover work.
At first glance, you’d think he was only known for his iconic role in Full Metal Jacket, but long and storied career seems was full of roles he was able to disappear into, and he was a brilliant character actor.