How R. Lee Ermey Made a Gunnery Sergeant an Icon

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video that explores the iconic performance by R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket.


R. Lee Ermey‘s performance as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman isn’t just the most memorable performance in Full Metal Jacket. It is one of the most memorable performances in cinema. When you think of a drill instructor or boot camp, you think of Sgt. Hartman and his wide-brimmed hat, his ruthlessness, and his penchant for verbal and physical abuse.

Such an iconic characterization merits a worthy deep dive. The video essay below does the job, detailing how Ermey went from being a drill sergeant to playing one. The essay also unpacks how Ermey’s work as a technical advisor on Apocalypse Now got him in touch with Stanley Kubrick, why Ermey is the exception to Kubrick’s infamous desire for exhaustive takes, the car crash that stalled production and gave Oliver Stone a window to rush Platoon

, and why Ermey sympathizes with the pressure to go to extreme lengths to give new recruits a fighting chance.

Watch “Full Metal Jacket: The Story of How R. Lee Ermey Made Sgt. Hartman an Icon“:


Who made this?

Brooklyn-based CinemaTyler has been providing some of the most in-depth analysis of auteur-driven cinema on YouTube for some time now. The channel is devoted to understanding filmmaking through in-depth analysis, and you can check out their YouTube account here. CinemaTyler’s scholarship on Stanley Kubrick, particularly 2001: A Space Odyssey, is noteworthy, and absolutely worth seeking out.

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