--The film's climactic battle of Hue was shot in Beckton, an old 1930's gasworks town abandoned on the Thames. The same area had also been used in a film version of 1984. Kubrick had two hundred palm trees flown in from Spain, as well as several thousand plastic tropical plants from Hong Kong. Some of the town's buildings were designed by the same French architect who had worked in Hue.
--Lee Ermey delayed shooting for four and a half months when he had an auto accident. According to Kubrick, "It was about 1:00 in the morning, and his car skidded off the road. He broke all his ribs on one side, just tremendous injuries, and he probably would have died, except he was conscious and kept flashing his lights. A motorist stopped. It was in a place called Epping Forest, where the police are always finding bodies. Not the sort of place you get out of your car at 1:30 in the morning and go see why someone's flashing their lights." Supposedly, Ermey was stinking drunk at the time.
--Actor Tim Colceri was originally cast in the part of Drill Instructor Hartman, before Ermey, initially hired as only the technical adviser, so impressed Kubrick with his arsenal of colorful insults that he was given the part. As consolation, Colceri took the role of the door gunner. That part had been promised to Arliss Howard, who was prepared to play a due role, along with his part as Private Cowboy. Howard already had a fake mustache picked out and was terribly disappointed when the part was given instead to Colceri.
--Tony Spiridakis, who was cast as Captain January, had the longest dialogue scene in the screenplay. His was the first scene shot. "First we rehearsed it for a solid week, which in itself is incredible," said Spiridakis. "Then from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., all Stanley did was shoot me. You know, like thirty-six takes. I went home and collapsed. The next morning, Stanley told me, 'I know you can do it. If I have to, I'll wait for four months till you get it right.' And everyone on the set shivered, because they knew he meant it." According to American Film magazine, "the scene was finally completed, after a solid month of shooting, when Kubrick decided the off-screen actor playing against Spiridakis was throwing his timing off and replaced him." That scene never made it into the finished film, nor did any of Spiridakis's other scenes. His character was completely cut.
--At one point, Kubrick considered using punk rocker Sid Vicious's version of "My Way" as the ending-title-sequence music, but instead decided on "Paint It Black" by the Rolling Stones.
--The scene where Arliss Howard and Matthew Modine are mopping the floor of the bathroom took 62 takes before Kubrick was satisfied. Howard's death scene, however, only took five takes, a fact of which Howard remains extremely proud.
--Toward the end of the movie, when Cowboy uses the radio to request tank support, the voice of Murphy on the other end is that of Stanley Kubrick. He recorded his voice by simply talking into a walkie talkie and placing the microphone next to the receiving walkie talkie.
--Stanley Kubrick's daughter Vivian makes a cameo appearance during the scene in Vietnam where Joker and Rafterman stand over a mass grave. Vivian can be seen wielding a motion picture camera, shooting into the open grave. She was also responsible for the film's score, which she composed under the name "Abigail Mead," an alias inspired by the Kubrick family home, Abott's Mead.
--During filming, actor Dorian Harewood (Private Eighball) saw the doctor twice, fearing that he'd blown out his eardrums during the battle scenes.
--Bantam books tried to republished Gustav Hasford's The Short-Timers under the title Full Metal Jacket, but Hasford refused to go along with it.
--Gustav Hasford wrote a sequel to The Short-Timers, which detailed Joker's time as a POW, an eye-opening stint in a Viet Cong village that led to him sympathizing with his enemy's plight. Titled The Phantom Blooper, the novel garnered little critical attention and small sells, but the film rights were optioned even before the book was released. According to Hasford, "the makers of Three Men and a Baby" planned to produce the film, which of course, was never made.
--During the scenes when Joker and the other combat correspondents are attending their Sea Tiger editorial meetings with Lieutenant Lockhart, a California flag can be glimpsed on the back wall of the Quonset hut. This is a tip of the hat to Gustav Hasford's friend and fellow combat correspondent, Bob Bayer. Bayer's extensive collection of Vietnam War photographs was used by Kubrick for the film's production design and set decoration. Bayer still has the California flag that adorned his wall in Vietnam, signed by all the combat correspodents of the First Marine Division 1967-1968.
--Tim Colceri, who played the part of Doorgunner, runs a workshop for young actors called "Full Metal Improv."
--Lee Ermey's voice has been sampled by the industrial metal band Ministry, in addition to being heard on "I Wanna Be Your Drill Instructor," a tune from the FMJ soundtrack that charted in the UK. The song puts some of Ermey's insults over a pop beat. The voice of actress Papillon Soo Soo, who played the Da Nang Hooker, was famously sampled by rappers 2 Live Crew on their controversial 1989 hit, "Me So Horny."
--Throughout his career, Lee Ermey has
played countless variations of the foul-tempered, foul-mouthed drill instructor
in various films, TV shows and commercials, including The Frighteners,
Toy Soldiers, Toy Story, "Space: Above and Beyond" and "The
Simpsons," to name just a few. In a commercial for Coors Light, Ermey
even got to face down John Wayne.
The Short-Timers | The Phantom Blooper | A Gypsy Good Time | Full Metal Jacket
Stories | Poems | Letters | Unpublished Works | Profiles | Interviews
Book Reviews | Book Theft | Obituaries | Remembrance | Photos | Blog | Store | Links