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Dead ‘Full Metal Jacket’ Actor Improvised Famous Scene Of Vicious Abuse

Dead ‘Full Metal Jacket’ actor improvised famous scene of vicious abuse

Dead ‘Full Metal Jacket’ actor R Lee Ermey improvised the movie’s iconic scene of vicious abuse.

The performance, one of many where he played an authority figure, earned Ermey a Golden Globe nomination for best supporting actor.

Dead ‘Full Metal Jacket’ actor created memorable scene

“I am hard, but I am fair – there is no racial bigotry here,barked Ermey in the memorable scene of Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 film.

Ermey improvised the dialogue of drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in his monologue to a group of fear-stricken recruits.

The rant included highly offensive racist and homophobic verbal insults, and even physical assaults.

Ermey used his own experiences in boot camp and two years serving as a Marine Corp drill instructor during the Vietnam War to create the verbal torrent.

“It was terrifying to those actors – my objective was intimidation,” he told The New York Times in 1987.

Incredibly, Kubrick didn’t initially cast Ermey in the role. 

While acting as a technical consultant on the film, the actor made his own audition tape yelling insults while someone threw tennis balls at him.

The performance impressed Kubrick so much, he gave Ermey the role.

R Lee Ermey won a Golden Globe nomination for best supporting actor.

Confronting scene

Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from Discrimination Claims described the scene as “confronting”.

He says although it can be considered a clever use of language, the scene is a showcase of:

  • race discrimination,
  • sexuality discrimination,
  • sexual harassment,
  • bullying
  • and criminal assault.

“He didn’t hold back, insulting everyone from African-Americans to gay people,” Mr Heffernan said.

“And to think he was improvising the scene is truly extraordinary.

“It certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted.”

The insults and abuse

The verbal insults in the opening monologue included the following to the group:

“There is no racial bigotry here. I do not look down on niggers, kikes, wops or greasers. Here you are all equally worthless.”

And an exchange with an African-American recruit:

“What’s your name scumbag?

“Sir – Private Brown Sir.

“Bullshit, from now on you’re private snowball – do you like that name?

“Sir – yes sir.

“Well there’s one thing you won’t like private snowball, they don’t serve fried chicken and watermelon on a daily basis in my mess hall.”

And to another recruit:

“I’ll bet you’re the kinda guy that would f**k a person in the ass, and not even have the Goddamn common courtesy to give him a reach-around. I’ll be watching you!”

Behaviour unlawful

Mr Heffernan says the behaviour is unlawful in modern workplaces.

“The moment you identify someone using an attribute like their race, the colour of their skin, their sexuality or religion, and then use that as a weapon against them, not only can you expect to lose your job, but you can also expect to be face hefty penalties in court,” he said.

But the Australian Defence Force is a different story.

The ADF has an exemption against workplace laws, including discrimination and bullying.

As a result, it is impossible for a recruit to take action against a senior officer for inappropriate behaviour.


Call our team at Discrimination Claims today on

1800 437 825

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