R. Lee Ermey, 1944–2018

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/04/15/r-lee-ermey-1944-2018.html


I’m only vaguely aware of his other acting jobs, but thanks Mr. Ermey for one of the most memorable performances in all of film.


I rarely post on FB when people die, but I did this time:

Well already I’ve seen a half dozen posts on this, so add one more.

R. Lee Ermey died. Most known for his role as the Drill Instructor in Full Metal Jacket, he was born in Kansas and raised in Emporia.

I got to meet him twice. The first time was at a car show that I went to just to see him. I was a little late getting there, and when I got in line there was a person who was “blocking” off the line. You see, he was scheduled to stay until 7pm, and they weren’t taking any more people for the line. I could stay and wait if I wanted to, but he wasn’t obligated to stay for anyone after the “official” end of the line. I went ahead and gambled and waited. Not only did he wait for me, but I think he signed for everyone who was in line. IIRC it was already past 8 when I went through. They had free 8x10 glossies for him to sign, but I also brought my copy of FMJ to get signed and he posed for a picture. And unlike some signings, he wasn’t rushed and took a minute to talk to you.

2nd time was for his book tour for Mail Call. There we got treated to an hour and a half or so of stories. Stories of where he grew up, how we build the race track on his old farm house, joining the Marines, tricking Stanley Kubrick into giving him the DI role after they had already paid for another actor, kissing Jack Black, and his work with Marine charities. Super funny and a good story teller. I got my book signed and gave him a photo of some a graffiti stencil I saw of him in Rome. Again, was super nice, wiling to spend some time to shake your hand etc. I declined a photo this time as I already had one and he had more people waiting.

And aside from that, he was always fun to watch in his various roles out there. A real down to earth guy whose energy invigorated you. And he did a lot of good with his various charity work.

So, real nice to meet you, Gunny! Godspeed!


I can’t think of a more appropriate tribute than playing Taps for “America’s Sargent”


One of my good friends ran into him at the Driskill Hotel bar in Austin during SXSW in the early 2000s, and was able to talk to him for a good hour or two in exchange for a couple of drinks. He was one solid dude.


I just posted this today:


1 Like





Who said that? Who the fuck said that? Who’s the slimy little communist shit twinkle-toed deity down here, who just signed my own death warrant?


he gave me great joy with his work, i am a grateful fan, i’ll never forget him.


He’s yelling at Jesus now.


You’d think he’d yell at Death and make him wet his pants.
I guess we can call it a draw.


“I bet you’re the kind of guy that would fuck a person in the ass and not even have the goddamn common courtesy to give him a reach-around …”

He certainly brought a sense of brio to the role in FMJ; so much so, that I was really disappointed when his character checked out.


But… did he have permission to die?

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.


The story I read was that he finally got the role after sending Kubrick a tape of him yelling at, cursing at and generally reaming out the camera for 15 minutes while Royal Marines* off screen pelted him with a variety of detritus; he didn’t once duck, flinch, pause, stutter or repeat himself.

* The film was largely (entirely?) shot in England, and many of the background jarheads were actually bootnecks.


I don’t think I’ve ever been as scared of anyone as I was of Marine Ermey.

I don’t know what he did to America’s enemies, but he terrified me.

Rest in peace sir.


“What is your major malfunction?”

Too many to get into it.


“Hell I like you. You can come home and **** my sister.”



thx Mr44, I very much appreciate your taking the time to express your interactions w Mr Ermey. So nice to take a moment to take a peek at someone else’s life, live in someone else’s shoes. My mind’s eye vision was not as kind (for which I am ashamed) and I appreciate the chance to be enlightened to some glimpse of the man. A unique voice and person. Good on ya Gunny!

Cannot recall the number of times I’ve asked “What is your major malfunction?!” (implying of course there were perhaps many minor malfunctions). Rich. Good writing. Great character actor. Lived it.


I am not sure about the detritus, but the story he told (that I remember) was he was hired as a consultant. To basically make sure the Marines acted like Marines, especially the drill instructor. He wanted to audition for the part, but was told that they already had an actor and he was bought and paid for.

He was in charge of picking the extras, and he took that opportunity to get a cameraman to film him “dressing them down”. Basically what we see at the beginning of the film, ad libbed. Then he gave the film or tape to Stanley under the guise of “here are the extra’s I picked out, what do you think” or something like that. But once he saw the film, he knew he was the right guy for the role and sent the other actor home (though he got paid.)

He was also great in Willard and just evil as fuck as that Sheriff in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake.