R. Lee Ermey’s Daughter Recalls How Much ‘Full Metal Jacket’ Star Loved the Troops
It’s been one year since R. Lee Ermey, best known for his role in the beloved 1987 Stanley Kubrick film Full Metal Jacket, passed away from pneumonia at the age of 74. Now, his daughter Betty Ermey is speaking out to remember her dad publicly.
“I still feel him around,” Betty explained to Fox News. “I still hear his voice. I was just so lucky. I’m thankful there’s so much recording of him. Because on those days when I truly need to hear his voice, I can. The family is just so grateful.”
Before launching his acting career, Ermey served in the U.S. Marine Corps for eleven years, during which time he was stationed in Vietnam and Japan. Betty said that he was proud of his service for the rest of his life.
“He didn’t graduate from high school,” she said. “He enlisted in the Marines under court order. He was given the option of either going to juvenile detention or joining the military service. He went to the Navy recruit office, but they didn’t take him. So he went to the Marines recruit office… He was very athletic because he grew up on a farm, so he was constantly doing farm work. The Marines took him and shipped him out.”
“He wanted to be a Marine for the rest of his life,” she continued. “He didn’t know what else to do his life. But he knew he wanted to stay connected with them somehow. He went to the Philippines to study drama. At that point in the ‘70s, a lot of Vietnam War films were being filmed in the Phillippines. So he was able to get involved as a technical advisor, helping out in these films.”
Ermey was originally going to be a technical advisor on Full Metal Jacket, but he ended up being perfect for the role of a drill instructor.
“He was a regular guy with a regular job,” Betty said. “But this was his dream… He had been a drill instructor for years in the Marines, so he had it down. He knew how to drill and just to be very tough and commanding. And he had such a presence to him. … He had a lot of wit and a very, very dark sense of humor. … It just makes for the perfect drill instructor on screen.”
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It’s so refreshing to see a Hollywood actor who was as down to Earth as Ermey. He was an American hero who served his country valiantly before launching an acting career that entertained millions of fans, and we would like to thank him for everything he did for us. There really will never be another R. Lee Ermey!