When Stanley Kubrick makes a film it is usually up there as one of the defining works of that genre, and that is definitely the case with his Vietnam war epic Full Metal Jacket. It is arguably one of the greatest war films ever made, which says a lot when a huge chunk of the film doesn’t even take place on the battlefield. Matthew Modine stars as J. T. “Joker” Davis who we follow from his intense boot camp training in the US, to his tour in Vietnam as a military journalist and explores what it takes to turn from a normal civilian into someone prepared to kill to survive. Kubrick shows his fantastic eye for shots, and delivers extremely memorable moments (many of which come from the foul-mouthed drill instructor that may sound familiar to Toy Story fans…) from Private Pyle’s jelly doughnut, the disturbing helicopter “Get some!’ sequence, and a chilling rendition of the Mickey Mouse Club song.
But did you know…
1) R. Lee Ermey was an actual former U.S. army drill instructor. After retiring he decided to get into acting, having small parts in Apocalypse Now (which he served as a technical advisor on as well) and as a drill instructor in The Boys in Company C. Kubrick hired Ermey initially as a technical advisor, but offered him the role after Ermey (angling for the part) improvised hurling insults at a group of background extras. Kubrick saw this and not only hired him but incorporated much of his recorded rants into the script.
2) A few famous faces almost showed up: Anthony Michael Hall was in negotiation for the role of Joker, but ultimately Matthew Modine was cast. Kubrick offered a young Bruce Willis a role, but the actor had to turn it down as the call came two days before he was due to start filming the TV Series Moonlighting. Arnold Schwarzenegger turned down the role of the bloodthirsty Animal Mother, opting to sign on to The Running Man instead.
3) Vivian Kubrick, the daughter of Stanley, shot roughly 18 hours worth of footage for a behind-the-scenes documentary. Ultimately the documentary was shelved, and most of that footage is now lost. She also wrote the score for the film under the pseudonym Abigail Mead.