At my immediate prompting, the conversation quickly turned
and stayed the Full Metal Jacket. The movie, which
has attained near cult-status among Marines, was my main interest
and Lee was kind enough to tell me all I wanted to know.
He told me that the way it all started was that he was
hired by Stanley Kubrick as a military consultant to keep
the military aspect of the movie consistent and realistic.
Kubrick was so impressed with him that he hired him for the
part of the drill instructor and flew him to England where
the first half of the movie was filmed.
Two days into the shoot, Lee was involved in a really
bad automobile accident which broke an arm and a rib, along
with other complications. Lee was worried that he would lose
the part until, to Lee's surprise, Kubrick shut down production
and invited Lee to stay at his house to heal.
While he was staying at the house, he told Kubrick that
the lines for the drill instructor were all wrong. They had
been written by a Hollywood screenwriter who had never spent
a day in uniform so they were the stereotyped ravings of someone's
uninformed imagination. Kubrick asked Lee to help him so they
got a tape recorder and Kubrick would read the lines of the
privates and Lee would react. Being a former drill instructor,
Lee went into his DI mode and really let it fly. They continued
doing this while Lee healed and by the time they were done,
they had hundreds of pages of script which they took about
1 in 30 pages for the movie. So everything you hear come out
of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman's mouth was a result of these
sessions, straight from the mind of Ermey.