To a generation of action film fans, R. Lee Ermey will always be known as “The Gunny” from his role in Full Metal Jacket. Ermey was a real-life Marine Drill Instructor and later parlayed his role into a weekly show “Mail Call” on the History Channel. Ermey died on Sunday, due to complications from pneumonia. He was 74.

But the actors who starred with him and were tormented by him (on film) gathered on Sunday to pay their respects to the man.

Matthew Modine and Vincent D’Onofrio on Sunday remembered the man who made their lives a living hell — on the big screen, that is.

Following the news of the death of R. Lee Ermey, Modine and D’Onofrio paid tribute to the iconic actor who broke them down when they all starred in Stanley Kubrick’s war film, Full Metal Jacket.

“#SemperFidelis Always faithful. Always loyal. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. RIP amigo. PVT. Joker,” Modine wrote.

“Ermey was the real deal. The knowledge of him passing brings back wonderful memories of our time together. @RLeeErmey @StanleyKubrick @FMJDiary @MatthewModine @AdamBaldwin,” D’Onofrio wrote.

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In the 1987 film, Ermey played a no-nonsense drill sergeant, Gny. Sgt. Hartman, who constantly rode Pvt. Joker (Modine) and Pvt. Pyle (D’Onofrio).

The Hartman character especially had it out for Pyle because he was constantly messing up — that is, until his unit gave him a “code red,” in which Joker also participated. The moment turns out to be Pyle’s breaking point, and, although he would straighten up, the tragic character would go on to kill Hartman and himself in front of Joker.

The behind-the-scenes story goes that Ermey was originally hired to advise and train the actor who would play the Full Metal Jacket role, but Kubrick was so impressed by what he saw, he offered Ermey the role.

It was later said, that during the writing phase of the project, that Kubrick would ask Ermey how a Drill Instructor would handle certain situations. Kubrick would then encourage Ermey to ad-lib to keep the actors off-balance. It worked brilliantly. RIP Gunny, Semper Fi.

To read the entire article from Hollywood Reporter, click here:

Photo courtesy Wikipedia