Three cast members and the editor from Full Metal Jacket recall making the movie with Stanley Kubrick. The director wanted everything in the film to be technically perfect.
Lee Ermey (played
Gunnery Sgt. Hartman; was also the film's technical adviser)
I was watching a football game one Sunday and the phone rang; it was Mr. Kubrick. He asked me if I had read Gustav Hasford's The Short-Timers, and I told him it was full of inaccuracies and a piece of shit as far as the boot-camp sequence goes, but interesting as hell and off the wall. He said, "Inaccuracies. What are you talking about?" Stanley had never been in the military, so he really didn't know. He wanted everything to be impeccably perfect technically.
(played Leonard Lawrence, a.k.a. Private Gomer Pyle)
It was my first film, so it was quite something to have a director like that. I had to gain most of the weight there in England, and I knew I had this huge task in front of me. I was hoping I would get support from him, and he completely supported me the whole way.
We used to have conversations in his trailer, but we never really talked about the project; we'd talk about boxing or football. The night before we were going to shoot the murder scene in the bathroom, he said, "Do you know what you're going to do tomorrow?" And I said, "I think so," so he walked away, and then he turned around and said, "Just remember, it has to be big. It has to be, like, Lon Chaney big."
I don't claim to have known him in any kind of personal way. I just know that he gave me a lot of freedom, and that was a lot coming from him.
Adam Baldwin (played
We walked around [the site, an old gas works outside London], and he showed me what we were going to do and what kind of tanks he had -- he was fascinated with guns, so we got right to the shooting the next day. The site was pretty run-down; there were all these old buildings that had been destroyed by decay, and they dressed them up with Vietnamese trim and set everything on fire and said, "Okay, boys, run around in the coal dust and the asbestos, fire your guns, and yell real loud."
One day, he was trying to figure out what music to use for the end-credits sequence, where he ended up using "Paint It Black." He was walking around with a Walkman, and all the madness was going on: Shots were being set up and tanks were getting loaded and everyone was cocking their weapons. And he's just kinda bopping his head, hummm, hummm. He goes, "Adam, come here a second. I'm thinking about using this as the ending-title-sequence music." I put it on, and it was Sid Vicious's version of "My Way." I just thought that was a wonderful visual of him.
Martin Hunter (editor)
We didn't start the editing process until after the film was shot. That's the way he liked to work. He would insist on looking at all of the takes; he wanted to get the best out of the material that he'd shot. I operated the equipment, but he was there giving me a constant stream of input. I think I went for nine months without a day off. Once, around three in the morning, Stanley turned to me and said, "Oh my God, I am so tired." I thought, This is a good sign; I get to go home now. We walked out of the cutting room, and there was a flat-bed editing machine outside and a stack of film cans. It was a copy of Dr. Strangelove, which had just arrived from the lab, and he turned to me and said, "Let's check this print." That was how he dealt with tiredness.
He did things the way most directors do. He just did them in a much more thorough way.
Copyright Hachette Filipacchi Magazines,
Inc. Aug 1999
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