30 Things You Never Knew About Vietnam Movie Classic Full Metal Jacket
When Full Metal Jacket came out in 1987, it immediately shook the world. Since then, the film has been endlessly quoted, referenced and written about, and has passed into the pop culture canon as an unmissable movie. With that said, there’s still a lot people don’t know about Kubrick’s tragic and darkly hilarious Vietnam movie, and we’re counting down 30 facts that might catch you off guard.
30. R Lee Ermey really was a drill sergeant
From start to finish, Full Metal Jacket is about as realistic a war movie as you can get. With that said, one character that feels almost like a caricature is the drill sergeant, who spends the whole movie bombarding the characters with creative strings of curse words that haunt them everywhere they go.
Despite the character seeming as over the top as possible, everything about him was actually accurate, since the actor, R Lee Ermey, had been a drill sergeant himself after serving in the Vietnam war.
In fact, Ermey wasn’t even supposed to be in the movie at all – he was brought in as a technical advisor to make sure whoever did the part did it right.
The part of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman was originally occupied by Tim Colceri, but Ermey felt he wasn’t intimidating enough, and so took the part for himself.
Colceri is still in the film, however, as the helicopter door gunner who utters the immortal words “Get some!” Colceri was peeved about being replaced, but ultimately felt that Ermey performed much better than he could have.
29. Ermey had fruit thrown at him during his audition
The man behind the iconic drill sergeant had actually never been an actor before, and was only around on set to act as a technical advisor, so it might seem strange that he was eventually given the part.
However, as soon as he learned more about the part he knew no-one could bring it to life better than he could, and he was determined to make it happen.
How? He filmed a 15-minute audition tape where he improvised one long continuous string of insults and yelled it into the camera.
That already was pretty unforgettable, but he also made someone behind the camera throw oranges and tennis balls at him while he talked, while barely blinking, just to make sure they knew how committed he was to the part.
However, it wasn’t just the audition reel that impressed Kubrick, and the director had Ermey make a significant change to his film…
28. Ermey wrote his own lines
Kubrick is famous for having been meticulous – and that included micro-managing every aspect of the production, from the script to the editing. That only makes it more surprising that Ermey was given almost free rein when it came to dialogue – but Kubrick had a good reason.
When Ermey first asked Kubrick to replace Colceri as Hartman, Kubrick declined. After all, Ermey had acted in only a handful of minor roles – some uncredited – and Kubrick was notoriously stubborn with his artistic vision.
But the story goes that when Kubrick said no, Ermey yelled at him to stand up when someone was talking to him. And, wouldn’t you know it, Kubrick instinctively stood up.
This gave Kubrick enough respect for Ermey to allow him to write his own lines, since he knew that in the end that would lead to more authentic dialogue.
Ermey in response wrote pages and pages of brutal but hilarious insults, and improvised many of his responses to the characters by pulling on his experience as a drill sergeant. In the end, over half of his dialogue in the movie was his own creation.
27. ‘Vietnam’ was actually London
Nowadays, whole planets can be created and rendered on a computer, and actors only need a green screen and a room to bounce around in. However, when Kubrick made Full Metal Jacket in 1987, he was limited to choosing an existing location or building a set. In the end, he did both.
While searching for the perfect location, Kubrick was driving through the English countryside with his cinematographer, Douglas Milsome, and Ermey. However, he became so distracted that he crashed the car into a ditch and rolling it on to its side.
As a testament to Kubrick’s dogged filmmaking, he simply climbed out of the car and kept talking about the location as the trio walked back.
An old gas power station in London – Beckton gasworks – turned out to be the place, and Kubrick spent months studying pictures of war-torn Vietnam attempting to recreate certain buildings and towns exactly out of what he already had.
Kubrick strategically punched a wrecking ball through walls and collapsed whole sections of buildings using explosives, all to make the London set seem as realistic as possible.
26. Vincent D’Onofrio’s weight gain was record-breaking
Private Gomer Pyle is an indispensable part of Full Metal Jacket, but the actor who played him had to undergo quite a transformation to bring him to life.
Vincent D’Onofrio had actually taken a lead role in a movie before, since he was primarily a theatre actor, but he was determined to get the part – so he packed on over 70 pounds of weight over the course of just a few months.
D’Onofrio’s huge change in weight is the world record for method-acting related weight gain, and broke the 60-pound record held by Robert De Niro to star in Raging Bull (1980).
Due to the extra weight, and an unfamiliarity with his body, D’Onofrio tore a ligament in his leg while filming the obstacle course scene, which led him to drop out of production for some time and required surgery to correct.
After filming eventually concluded, it took D’Onofrio nine months to return to his normal weight; he then bulked up in muscle to play Thor in Adventures in Babysitting (1987).
25. Joker’s real name is an homage to one soldier in particular
For most of Full Metal Jacket, we only know Matthew Modine’s protagonist as ‘Joker’, a wise-cracking recruit who becomes a war journalist, and only has to experience the reality of combat near the end of the movie. However, those paying attention to Joker’s training uniform will know that his actual name is JT Davis.
This isn’t just a random name the character was given: it’s actually a reference to James T. Davis, a real-life American soldier. The real Davis was the first American casualty to be acknowledged by the US government, essentially marking the start of the Vietnam war, and the name was chosen as a tribute to him.
Davis was a direction-finding operator, tasked with discovering the location of Viet Cong transmitters for reconnaissance purposes – as well as to train the existing South Vietnamese army.
On the 22nd of December, 1961, Davis was instructed to find the location of guerrilla group approximately twelve miles from his base of operations. However, ten miles into the journey his truck hit a landmine and was overturned; Davis and nine others were killed in the ensuing clash between US and North Vietnamese forces.
Two weeks after his death, Davis’ unit’s headquarters in Tan Son Nhut was to be named ‘Davis Station’ in his honour.
24. Norfolk farmers thought they were under attack by the production for real
Though the movie spends its first half set in America and its second half in Vietnam, the film was actually shot in neither country.
Early on in his career, Kubrick had decided to relocate all of his productions from Los Angeles to England, in order to stop Hollywood from interfering too much in his productions. This led to much of Full Metal Jacket being shot in the English countryside.
This caused problems when it came to shooting one scene in particular, when a helicopter had to fly low over a Norfolk canal while a machine gun fired blanks out of it.
The local police were told and they in turn were supposed to tell the fishermen and farmers in the area, but something got lost in the communication.
This meant that a group of English farmers woke up at dawn to the sound of machine guns being fired just above them – whoops!
23. A song that Sampled the film was deemed legally obscene
Model and actress Papillion Soo Soo wasn’t given a whole lot to do in Full Metal Jacket, since she was playing a Vietnamese sex worker who spoke in limited and broken English. However, despite the two-dimensional character she was playing, many of her lines became iconic, and took on a whole new life outside of the film.
In particular, 2 Live Crew’s song Me So Horny sampled her dialogue and made it impossible to get out of anyone’s head, while Sir Mix-A-Lot sampled another line of her dialogue at the beginning of the now-iconic rap song Baby’s Got Back.
The sample from Full Metal Jacket was recorded directly from a VHS of the film that was played into a microphone; if you listen carefully, you can hear Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ playing underneath the track, due to its inclusion in the film.
The song was released as a single from the infamous album As Nasty As They Wanna Be (1989). Because of the lewd themes of the album in general, and this song in particular, the album was temporarily declared legally obscene and banned from sale in Florida, the first in history.
In spite of this – or perhaps because of this – the album was certified double platinum, while Sir Mix-a-Lot’s single was a number 1 hit, all thanks to Papillon Soo Soo.
22. filming was once cancelled for a whole day after Kubrick discovered a dead family of rabbits
Full Metal Jacket was a tough set to work on, and that’s putting it mildly. The abandoned gas works shooting location meant there was asbestos and other toxic substances around constantly, and the shooting days were long and cold.
Worse, R Lee Ermey was involved in a car crash during production, in which he skidded off the road in the middle of the night and broke all of the ribs on his left side.
Determined not to lose consciousness, Ermey kept flashing his car lights until a passing motorist could assist him. He had to take off from production while his ribs healed.
Unfortunately for Kubrick and the rest of the team, Ermey was involved in all of the scenes that still needed to be shot, meaning that production had to be suspended completely while he healed.
Given that example, the mood onset could get pretty grim, and one little thing could tip things into misery pretty quickly. For example, when Kubrick discovered a family of wild rabbits had died as a result of the scene he had been shooting, he cancelled work for the rest of the day and ordered everyone to go home.
21. The actors were treated like real marines throughout filming
War is an unimaginable situation, and one that’s even harder to understand if you’ve never experienced it firsthand. This can make portraying those feelings authentically on-screen pretty difficult, which led Kubrick to push his cast to the absolute extreme – almost. Thankfully there was no actual hazing on set, but the cast were made to act as real marines for the duration of filming.
This meant that they were yelled at by Ermey for up to ten hours a day, even when he wasn’t technically in character as the drill sergeant Hartman.
They were also made to shave their heads over and over, cutting their hair back down to the scalp again every single week.
Many actors on set tried to make the experience more real for themselves too, by keeping diaries of their experiences just as the soldiers would have done.
Kubrick made sure that none of the actors met Ermey prior to filming, to ensure that no fraternisation between the actors could take place and to give the actors the maximum shock value on being verbally abused for the first time.
20. Special cameras were invented just for the film
Stanley Kubrick was no stranger to innovating in the art of filmmaking, and Full Metal Jacket is no exception. Not only did Kubrick employ ground-breaking set design and visual style, but his obsession over detail went right down to the cameras themselves.
By using extreme wide angle lenses, Kubrick and cinematographer Douglas Milsome were able to capture – as you might guess – an extremely wide shot with everything in focus.
In fact, a special lens was designed for this very purpose, and it’s employed in early portions of the film showing the recruits together.
Kubrick’s decision to keep every marine in focus was intended to reflect the broader thematic concerns of the film: that no particular recruit was special, and they were sent to be slaughtered in Vietnam without concern for who they were.
“We used a lot of wide angles to compose interesting shots,” said Milsome, “as well as a lot of very close angles on the same shots, and then Stanley would cut from one extreme to the other.”
19. The film directly inspired Saving Private Ryan
Milsome wasn’t Kubrick’s first choice for his director of cinematography, but he ended up using such innovative and effective techniques that they became a benchmark for other classic war films like Saving Private Ryan.
Kubrick had originally intended to work with John Alcott, his frequent collaborator on films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and A Clockwork Orange (1971).
Unfortunately, however, he became unwell and had to decline Kubrick’s invitation to collaborate once more on Full Metal Jacket; Alcott died from a heart attack in the summer of 1986. Milsome, who had pulled focus for Alcott on The Shining (1980), stepped up instead.
During the famously hard-hitting battle scenes of the film, Milsome used camera shutter angles that varied and were out of sync, leading to a disjointed and chaotic experience of the battlefield.
This technique was later used by Janusz Kaminski, the director of cinematography for Schlinder’s List (1990) and Saving Private Ryan, and he won Oscars for both.
18. It took Matthew Modine threatening self-harm before Kubrick allowed him to leave the set
Depending on the estimate, Full Metal Jacket’s production lasted between five and seven years, and – as mentioned – the conditions on set were dire, especially when filming around the abandoned gas works.
According to Vincent D’Onofrio, filming ended up taking so long that his fellow actor Matthew Modine got married, conceived a child, the child was born, and then had its first birthday, all before filming had concluded.
In his memoir, Full Metal Jacket Diary (2005), Modine describes an altercation he had with Kubrick on set concerning these momentous events in his personal life.
According to Modine, he asked Kubrick for permission to leave the set to attend the birth of his child, but Kubrick refused, and then didn’t budge on his decision.
It took Modine threatening to injure himself – in order to be taken off set on a medical basis – for Kubrick to reconsider. For some directors, it seems like the film always comes first.
17. Denzel Washington turned down a chance to star in the film
As with every film, especially ones directed by legendary directors like Stanley Kubrick, multiple actors were in the frame to star, even before principal photography was anywhere near beginning.
One such actor was Denzel Washington, whose career had taken off in the 80s with a lead role in the NBC hospital drama St Elsewhere (1982-88) as well as parts in films like A Soldier’s Story (1984).
Washington wanted more time on the silver screen, and so he declared an interest in playing Eightball in Kubrick’s latest film. However, when he was informed that Kubrick routinely didn’t send out scripts before actors signed up, he dropped out.
Washington has since said that, in hindsight, he regrets passing on the chance to be in what would become a classic movie.
He also regrets not taking a part in another seminal Vietnam War film, Platoon (1986): “I wanted to play the part Willem Dafoe played.”
16. Deliverence’s Bill McKinney was deemed too frightening to play Sgt Hartman
As steely as Kubrick might seem in interviews and reports from on set, apparently some things scare even him more than he’d like to admit.
In 1972, director John Boorman released Deliverance, a deeply unsettling thriller about a group of friends who are stalked by sadistic mountain men in the woods. It was a huge success, garnering Boorman an Oscar nomination for Best Director, and becoming the breakthrough film for its lead villain, Bill McKinney.
McKinney would go on to become part of Clint Eastwood’s stock company, appearing in seven of his films, and also worked in television. But, had things gone even slightly differently, McKinney could have played Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket.
According to Boorman, Kubrick had called him to ask about his experience of working with McKinney, stating that he was interested in having him play Hartman. Boorman replied that McKinney was not only a great actor but a lovely person, to which Kubrick expressed scepticism given his terrifying performance in Deliverance. Nonetheless, McKinney was cast and scheduled to fly to London.
“Bill told me later that he was in the LA airport about to come to London,” said Boorman, “and he got a message from Kubrick to cancel. He was paid in full but Kubrick couldn’t bear to face him – he was just too afraid!”
15. 6,000 photos from the war were used to recreate Vietnam in England
For production design, Kubrick chose Anton Furst, who would reach the pinnacle of his design fame in being the visionary behind Tim Burton’s Batman (1989).
However, at the time of filming, Kubrick had been impressed by Furst’s work on The Company of Wolves (1984) and set about hiring the designer for the film’s ambitious battle scenes. However, Kubrick hardly made it easy.
Since the director had an avowed fear of flying, the Vietnam scenes had to be constructed on a set in London. Plastic trees were flown in from California, but Kubrick had them scrapped and imported 200 palm trees from Spain instead.
Meanwhile, Furst trawled through 6,000 photos of the Vietnam War in order to get the right feel. “We didn’t want blue skies; if the sun came out, Kubrick didn’t shoot,” Furst said.
“We contrasted the unbelievable cleanness of the boot camp with the incredible filth of the actual war; the point was that they came up against something they could never have trained for.”
14. Tony Spiridakis had the longest dialogue scene in the film but was cut because of another actor’s error
Given how antsy some actors get about having some of their lines and actions cut from the final film, spare a thought for Tony Spiridakis, who was removed entirely on one of Kubrick’s whims.
Spiridakis was cast in the film as Captain January, who in fact had a major part to play in the original screenplay, with the longest continuous dialogue in the entire film.
Unfortunately for Spiridakis, Kubrick reacted negatively to the shot, claiming that the off-screen actor opposite Spiridakis had messed up the timing of the scene, and demanded the whole thing be scrapped.
But it wasn’t only Spiridakis’ starring moment that was removed. Since Kubrick felt that the character was purposeless without this monologue scene, he had the entire character of Captain January eliminated from the final cut.
Even worse, Kubrick famously destroyed all the negatives of his films that were left on the cutting room floor, making it impossible for Spiridakis’ presumably glorious performance to be recovered.
13. Joker’s sex scene was cut
According to Modine, an off-hand comment to Kubrick led to an ill-fated sex scene that was also fully filmed but also completely destroyed.
“‘I’m really excited about the way the film is cutting together. We have everything!’ I told him,” said Modine of Kubrick, “‘Yeah, everything but sex. We don’t have a sex scene in the movie.’”
On returning from a production break for Christmas, Modine discovered that Kubrick had written a new scene – a sex scene – in which Joker follows through on the Vietnamese sex worker’s offer.
Modine himself was nervous about carrying out the scene and the impact of its release, given that the production took place at the height of the AIDs crisis.
Ultimately, however, the scene was removed from the film. While Kubrick enjoyed it in isolation, he felt it undermined the cold and heartless tone of the film. Like the rest of Kubrick’s deleted scenes, it’s now entirely lost to history.
12. There are Mickey Mouse references everywhere
It’s one of Sergeant Hartman’s most iconic lines – apart from, of course, the major malfunction – but it might surprise you to learn that Full Metal Jacket is in fact full of “Mickey Mouse s**t.”
Notably, the two most obvious references come at the conclusion of each segment of the film. Full Metal Jacket divides quite neatly into two arcs: the first being the marines at bootcamp, and the second showing the soldiers in Vietnam.
Sergeant Hartman yells “What is this Mickey Mouse s**t?”, after finding Pyle out of bed at the end of the first segment; at the end of the film, as the marines leave Huế, as it burns to the ground, they sing the theme song to the Mickey Mouse Club TV show.
However, the Disney motif doesn’t just recur once. Figurines of Mickey and Minnie Mouse can be seen on the shelves in Lieutenant Lockhart’s office.
In 2010, perhaps as an homage to the film’s Disney references, a video went viral on Youtube mashing up Disney characters with the events of Full Metal Jacket.
11. The author of the novel the film was adapted from snuck on to set dressed as an extra
Stanley Kubrick had always wanted to make a WWII film, but prevaricated long enough on a Holocaust drama that he was beaten to the punch on the rights to what would become Schindler’s List (1993).
He then got his hands on a copy of The Short-Timers (1979), a novel by Gustav Hasford, and set about adapting it for film with the author and war correspondent Michael Herr.
Both Herr and Hasford were kept in the dark about the process of bringing together the final screenplay, in which Kubrick would review two individual versions and take whichever elements he liked best. Kubrick desperately wanted to meet Hasford, but was warned that he was an unpleasant man. After one meeting, they never met again.
Hasford began to feel that his work on the screenplay was being overlooked. Kubrick had planned to give Hasford an ‘additional dialogue’ credit, but this was scrapped.
Frustrated, Hasford and two friends dressed as extras and stole their way on to the set to review the progress of the film. They were discovered, however, when a crew member recognised Hasford, who introduced himself as the screenwriter.
To his dismay, the crew member then mistook him for Michael Herr. Hasford would go on to lobby Kubrick and his team for his dues, and eventually received a full screenwriting credit and Oscar nomination for his work.
10. R. Lee Ermey was banned from speaking to people on set
If this article has established anything, it’s that R. Lee Ermey was one intimidating guy, whether he was in character or not.
Ermey’s ability to frighten his co-stars into submission was a trait that came naturally to him after so many years of military experience, and Kubrick wanted to preserve that.
In order for Ermey’s performance to be as impactful and terrifying as possible on shooting days, Kubrick took many precautions to elevate Ermey’s mystery and status.
For starters, though all the other actors met during pre-production before shooting began, no one met Ermey.
Even once the other actors had seen Ermey in action, Ermey was banned from talking to them between takes unless he remained in character.
Ermey never hung out with his co-stars during shooting and didn’t even really get to know them while working on the film, all so Kubrick could keep the other actors scared of him.
9. Vincent D’Onofrio based Pyle on Phantom of the Opera actor Lon Chaney
None of the characters in Full Metal Jacket are granted what we might call a happy ending, but Pyle’s character arc might be the most tragic in the film.
Pyle is a slow and mostly silent character, who is constantly belittled by the people he is in boot camp with, as well as by Sgt Hartman.
Pyle slowly loses his grip on reality throughout the first half of the film, and has to communicate his declining mental state with mostly facial expressions.
These constraints led Vincent D’Onofrio, who played Gomer Pyle, to base his performance on the famous classic actor Lon Chaney.
Lon Chaney was an actor in the silent era, who also played many terrifying but ultimately sympathetic characters, such as the Phantom of the Opera. This combination of qualities made Chaney the perfect actor for D’Onofrio to draw inspiration from.
D’Onofrio never disclosed to Kubrick that Chaney was his inspiration, but Kubrick must have had the same thing in mind for the character of Pyle, as later in production Kubrick advised D’Onofrio saying: “I want you to be big. Lon Chaney big.”
8. Sgt Hartman was originally supposed to be far more violent
Throughout the first half of Full Metal Jacket, Sergeant Hartman shows himself to be a brutal disciplinarian.
Hartman repeatedly resorts to cruel insults and jeers, and forces collective punishment on the whole of boot camp in order to encourage the hazing of one struggling recruit.
Given Sergeant Hartman’s fearsome reputation in the movie, it may surprise you to know that Ermey actually toned down the amount of physical violence from what was originally in the script.
In the book that Full Metal Jacket was based on – and in the original screenplay – Hartman was constantly pushing and hitting the boot camp recruits.
Though Hartman does get physical in some scenes in the film, Ermey requested that the amount of physical abuse be toned down.
Ermey’s reasoning was that, in his experience, no drill sergeant would ever choke or punch a recruit out in the open.
7. Ads for the film were censored in Canada
It’s not surprising that a movie as brutal and coarse as Full Metal Jacket was restricted to adult audiences.
With that said, it’s unusual for a movie’s trailer or even poster to be censored, which is exactly what happened to Full Metal Jacket in Canada.
The trailer for Full Metal Jacket, which featured the tagline “In Vietnam the wind doesn’t blow, it sucks”, was banned from airing on Canadian television.
Many were confused about the reason why, since the trailer didn’t feature any obscene violence or imagery that couldn’t be shown on TV during the day.
Eventually, it was revealed that the problem was the movie’s tagline, which Canadian censors could not decide was a problem or not.
The controversy all came down to the word sucks, as it was unclear whether the word counted as a curse word that needed to be censored or not.
6. Val Kilmer challenged Matthew Modine to a fight over the film
As Full Metal Jacket was to be directed by Stanley Kubrick, the project was considered to be pretty prestigious even before shooting began.
This led to a lot of competition over parts, and a lot of elevated emotions when it came to the audition process.
In particular, one actor now well-known for his diva-ish behaviour allegedly let his anger get the best of him.
Future Top Gun and Batman star Val Kilmer auditioned for the role of Joker, but he never heard anything back from the casting director.
Kilmer was furious and later challenged actor Matthew Modine to a fight in a restaurant, believing Modine had stolen his part.
However, Modine had at the time never even heard of Full Metal Jacket – until he actually auditioned and won the part, after his confrontation with Kilmer introduced him to the film in the first place.
5. A scene of the Marines playing football with a human head was cut
Though we spend a lot of time with the new recruits in boot camp at the beginning of the movie, we don’t see a lot of the soldiers’ downtime in the second half of Full Metal Jacket.
Kubrick originally included a scene to let us know more about what the soldiers would likely be doing when not actively fighting in Vietnam, but it wasn’t the upbeat camaraderie you might expect.
Originally, Kubrick had planned to include a scene of some Marines happily playing football together against a barren backdrop.
The camera would then pan down, revealing that the Marines were actually playing football with a severed human head.
As opposed to other scenes that Kubrick cut from the movie for being too upbeat or cheerful, the football scene was considered to be too desolate.
The grisly imagery was eventually disregarded as gratuitous, even though it wasn’t so exaggerated as to become unrealistic.
4. Arnold Schwarzenegger turned down a role in the film to star in The Running Man
When you think about crushingly dark war dramas directed by Stanley Kubrick, you probably don’t think about Arnold Schwarzenegger.
With that said, Schwarzenegger was initially interested in appearing in Full Metal Jacket, and was even offered a part after auditioning for the film.
Schwarzenegger was offered the part of Animal Mother, a character we meet in the second half of the film.
Animal Mother is maybe the most combat-hungry character in the movie, and acts the most sadistically towards both enemy soldiers and Joker.
In the end, Schwarzenegger declined to appear in Full Metal Jacket, as it clashed with his shooting schedule for The Running Man.
The Running Man ended up receiving mixed reviews from critics and was only a moderate success, so it’s difficult to know if Schwarzenegger made the right call.
3. Hartman skipping over some soldiers for others was done by Ermey to catch the actors off-guard
In the opening scene of Full Metal Jacket, Sergeant Hartman walks down the line of new recruits at boot camp, belittling each one.
However, after bullying both Joker and Cowboy, Hartman skips over another solider before going on to harass Pyle.
This skip has led many fans over the years to assume that there was a blocking error, and that Pyle should have been standing next to Cowboy all along.
However, the scene actually features no mistakes, and it was Ermey’s decision to skip over some recruits in order to get others quicker.
Ermey’s reasoning was that drill sergeants would often skip over recruits, in order to catch the others off guard.
This meant no one had time to steel themselves for what was coming, and thus heightened the emotional impact of the sergeant’s bullying.
2. Over 3,000 actors sent in audition tapes for the film
Despite conditions famously being terrible on the set of Full Metal Jacket, and Stanley Kubrick being a notoriously difficult director to work with, actors auditioned for Full Metal Jacket in droves.
Advertisements were placed in a number of prominent newspapers, encouraging aspiring and young actors to mail in an audition for the film.
All told, over 3,000 taped auditions arrived for the casting director and team to go through, far more than they expected.
Stanley Kubrick even personally watched over 800 of those himself, and made executive decisions based on whose performances impressed him the most.
Many of the people who auditioned were used as extras, and a select few were brought into the principal cast.
Some did come to regret their decision to audition, however, after the misery of the set soon became clear.
1. Pyle disobeying Hartman’s orders was actually a mistake
Hartman’s initial tirade may not have actually included the blocking error that some assumed, but that doesn’t mean that the film was free of mistakes.
Despite Kubrick’s meticulous directorial style, one error did slip through, and it happened during one of Pyle and Hartman’s confrontations.
In one scene, Pyle appears to directly ignore Hartman’s orders, staying frozen when Hartman instructs him to pick up his hat.
Hartman had knocked off Pyle’s hat just before this, and so it seems as though Pyle is attempting to resist Hartman out of spite.
In reality though, Ermey had not meant to knock off Pyle’s hat, and had asked him to pick it up while improvising, purely out of habit.