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20 things you (probably) didn't know about Full Metal Jacket

20 things you (probably) didn't know about Full Metal Jacket

20 things you (probably) didn't know about Full Metal Jacket
15 September 2017

After scaring the life out of us with The Shining, Stanley Kubrick effortlessly switched genres with Full Metal Jacket, a visceral drama that challenged Apocalypse Now for the title of 'Best Vietnam War Movie Ever Made'.

Here's a list of 20 things you probably didn't know about the movie.

This is my article. There are many like it but this one is mine...


The movie is based on Gustav Hasford's book The Short Timers. Hasford (pictured) started working on it while serving in Vietnam, and based many of the characters (and names) on soldiers he served with. 


The book is divided into three sections, written in completely different styles of prose. The first section of the novel, "The Spirit of the Bayonet", is faithfully reproduced in the movie. There are only minor differences of events and names. The most profound difference is that, in the book, when Pyle kills Gunny, Gunny tells Pyle "I'm proud [of you]" before being killed, finally assured that he transformed Pyle into a killer.


Vincent D'Onofrio (Pyle) owes Matthew Modine (Joker) for landing the part. D'Onofrio was a bouncer and theatre actor working at the Hard Rock Cafe when his pal, Modine, walked past and they got chatting. Modine revealed he was doing the movie and that there was a part available. D'Onofrio had never seen himself as a movie actor, but went for it and got it. D'Onofrio also spent time working as a bodyguard for Robert Plant and Yul Brynner prior to his movie break. 


Kubrick personally asked D'Onofrio to gain weight for the movie. D'Onofrio piled on 30lbs. When the director saw him he just said D'Onofrio looked like he "could kick everyone's ass" and told him to put more on. Eventually D'Onofrio put on 80lbs breaking Robert De Niro's movie weight-gain record of 60lbs for Raging Bull. It took him seven months to put the weight on and nine months to take it off. He tore ligaments in his knee on the obstacle course, due to the extra weight.


Retired United States Marine Corps Staff Sergeant and technical advisor on the movie, R. Lee Ermey, told Kubrick he'd like to play the drill instructor. He performed a demonstration on videotape in which he yelled obscene insults for 15 minutes without stopping, repeating himself or even flinching - despite being continuously pelted with tennis balls and oranges. Stanley Kubrick was so impressed that he cast Ermey as Hartman.


Before giving the role to Ermey, Kubrick had cast a comedian called Tim Colceri in the role of the drill instructor. Colceri had to settle with playing this gunman at the helicopter door, a scene that didn't come from The Short-Timers, but rather Associate Producer Michael Herr's 1977 book Dispatches.


The entire movie was shot in England with some scenes of the ruined city of Hue shot at a dockyard on the Isle of Dogs, London, that was scheduled for demolition. The ruins of Hue in the sniper and final nighttime scenes were shot at the Beckton Gasworks in London's East End, (pictured). Researchers painstakingly went through dozens of shots of the real Hue in order to make sure Beckton looked authentic, and 200 palm trees were brought into the area to create a tropical effect.


As with all Kubrick movies, Full Metal Jacket took many months to shoot. Well over a year. Adam Baldwin (Animal Mother) was originally supposed to do principal photography for three months. He ended up doing it for nine. Hell, it took them a month to get over this wall (pictured) in the death of Doc and Eightball scene. Literally, from the moment they arrive at the wall to the moment they got over it, took 30 days of filming. 


The jelly doughnut scene took 37 takes. That's all there is to say about that.


At one stage Baldwin (pictured) got somewhat tired of the constant retakes. Having done a take for a scene, Kubrick asked them to do it again for the umpteenth time, to which Baldwin murmured "Oh man, what does this guy want from us?" Without missing a beat Kubrick called out "How about better acting?"  


Animal Mother carries a machete on his back throughout the movie because, in the original script, he cuts the head off the sniper once they've killed her. It didn't make it into the film because of its brutality. 


Kubrick told Dorian Harewood, who played Eightball, that he made Full Metal Jacket as "his answer to Rambo" to show what war's really like.


In the book we find out that Rafterman's nickname comes from an incident at an enlisted men's club in which he climbed up into the rafters for a better view of the stage, then fell onto the table of a visiting general. In the book he's also killed, run over by a tank, cutting him in half.


The director received over 3,000 videotape auditions. His staff screened all of the tapes and eliminated the unacceptable ones leaving 800 tapes for Kubrick to personally review.


Anthony Michael Hall of Breakfast Club fame was originally set to play Pvt. Joker. Hall spent eight months preparing for the role but could not reach an agreement with Kubrick regarding salary and schedule. Kubrick also offered Bruce Willis a role, but Willis had to turn down the opportunity because of the impending start of filming on the first six episodes of Moonlighting.


To ensure that the actors' reactions to Ermey were as authentic and genuine as possible, Ermey and the recruits would not rehearse together.


Cowboy's death scene shows a building in the background that resembles the famous alien monolith in Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick described the resemblance as an "extraordinary accident."


Ermey was involved in a jeep accident during the making of the movie, skidding off the road and breaking all the ribs on his left side. He refused to pass out, and kept flashing his car lights until a motorist stopped. In some scenes you'll notice that he does not move his left arm at all. Kubrick claimed in an interview that it took four and a half months before Ermey could return to work in which production simply had to be suspended since he was involved in all the remaining scenes.


Denzel Washington was considered for the role of Eightball and has said that it is a role that he regrets missing out on. Arnold Schwarzenegger turned down the role of Animal Mother in order to star in The Running Man. 


The Vietnam sequences of the film were shot first, the Parris Island training scenes second. The graduation of the recruits was the last scene shot.