Actor R. Lee Ermey, best known for his role as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, died Sunday from complications of pneumonia. He was 74.
“It is with deep sadness that I regret to inform you all that R. Lee Ermey (“The Gunny”) passed away this morning from complications of pneumonia,” Ermey’s longtime manager, Bill Rogin, wrote on the star’s official Twitter account. “He will be greatly missed by all of us. Semper Fi, Gunny. Godspeed.”
Nicknamed “The Gunny,” Ermey didn’t just portray members of the military in many of his films, but he was one in real life. Born March 24, 1944, in Emporia, Kansas, Ermey was a drill instructor in the Marines and also a staff sergeant. He served 14 months in Vietnam, completed two tours in Japan, and had spent 11 years in the military before he retired and ventured out to Hollywood.
After taking some acting classes, one of Ermey’s first roles was playing a helicopter pilot in the 1979 classic Apocalypse Now. He eventually went on to receive a Golden Globe nomination for his memorable performance as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in 1987’s Full Metal Jacket, as well as a best supporting actor award from the Boston Society of Film Critics.
See Ermey in action in the opening scene of Full Metal Jacket. (Warning: offensive language)
Several of Ermey’s Full Metal Jacket costars shared their sadness at his parting on Twitter. “Ermey was the real deal,” wrote Vincent D’Onofrio. “The knowledge of him passing brings back wonderful memories of our time together.”
Matthew Modine posted, “#SemperFidelis Always faithful. Always loyal. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. RIP amigo.”
Some of Ermey’s other film credits include Mississippi Burning, Fletch Lives, Se7en, Saving Silverman, the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Toy Story, and Prefontaine. He most recently hosted Outdoor Channel’s GunnyTime With R. Lee Ermey.
See more celebrity reactions to his death, below: