Before toughie R. Lee Ermey was selling commercials for Geico (ugh) and spewing Obama/socialist rants, he was tearing up the young blood in Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket. The retired United States Marine Corps drill instructor plays Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in the film – a type that the actor first took on in The Boys in Company "C," and would continue with in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now. Ermey was often hired as a filmic technical adviser for his military expertise, which is how he started out with Kubrick. Eventually he found his way on camera when the director became impressed with a video the Vietnam vet created of himself, hurling a stream of insults at a group.
The foul-mouthed Hartman proves his prowess for a sharp tongue and cruel barb consistently throughout the movie, but it's the opening speech the DI gives his new recruits on Parris Island that makes a lasting impression. During the diatribe, Hartman verbally abuses his team of Marines in an attempt to harden them for battle, insulting them with nasty nicknames and demanding their obedience. Like everything in Kubrick's film, Full Metal Jacket's hard-hitting dialogue doesn't exist for mere shock value. The preparation for war – including the breaking down of individuals to function as one giant killing machine – and the violent act itself is completely dehumanizing. Kubrick illustrates this memorably in his movie, but Ermey had the real-life experience to make it believable and help set the tone. Put on your war face, and check out the clip below.