The booming-voiced drill sergeant passed away from complications due to Pneumonia on Monday. One of the great “that guy” character actors is gone.
R. Lee Ermey is best known for his portrayal of Gunny Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket, and to be honest, many of his later roles were duplications or interpretations of that character. But it was a character that he did better than anyone else short of Dale Dye could do since he brought his marine drill sergeant’s experience to the big screen. Ermey was one of Hollywood’s true working men, with a whopping 125 titles to his credit, which is even more remarkable since he didn’t get his first movie role until he was 34, and his big break in with Full Metal Jacket at 43.
We at The Scariest Things remember that Ermey was a role player in a number of significant Horror films, notably the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and The Frighteners. Again, his roles here were riffs on his specialty, but if you needed a high volume and intimidating redneck sheriff or sergeant, you knew who you wanted, and you wanted THIS GUY. Other horror movies he starred in included Body Snatchers, The Terror Within II, The Rift, and Willard. (We’ll forget the Z-grade 70’s schlock Up From the Depths, and I’m sure he’d want us to as well.)
There may not be a more vocally intimidating actor in Hollywood today. He was a powerful, commanding presence in every movie, good or bad, that he was in. Rest in Peace, R. Lee, The Scariest Things salutes you. Atten-shun!