Soldier and actor known for Full Metal Jacket

Born: March 24, 1944;

Died: April 15, 2018

R LEE Ermey, who has died aged 74, was an actor most famous for playing the brutal, unforgiving sergeant in the 1987 Vietnam film Full Metal Jacket, a role to which he was able to bring his own personal experience: Ermey served 11 years in the Marine Corps, including 14 months in Vietnam.

However, the part of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman was not originally his. Ermey had been brought on as a technical consultant for the film, but he had his eyes on the role of the brutal gunnery sergeant and filmed his own audition tape of him yelling out insults while tennis balls flew at him. An impressed Kubrick gave him the role.

Kubrick later said that at least half of Ermey's dialogue in the film was his own. "In the course of hiring the marine recruits, we interviewed hundreds of guys," he said. "We lined them all up and did an improvisation of the first meeting with the drill instructor. They didn't know what he was going to say, and we could see how they reacted. Lee came up with, I don't know, 150 pages of insults."

According to Kubrick, Ermey had a terrible car accident one night in the middle of production and was out of the film for four and half months with broken ribs, but, once the film was released, he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for the role.

Born Ronald Lee Ermey in 1944, Ermey enlisted in the Marines after graduating from high school and as well as Vietnam served in Okinawa, Japan, where he became staff sergeant.

On leaving the Army, he at first worked on the building of a nuclear power plant, but was determined to get into acting. His first film credit was as a helicopter pilot in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, which was quickly followed by a part in The Boys in Company C as a drill instructor.

In all, Ermey had more than 60 credits in film and television across his long career in the industry, often playing authority figures in everything from Se7en to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake.

Ermey also did the voice of the little green army man Sarge in the Toy Story films and played track and field coach and Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman in Prefontaine, General Kramer in Toy Soldiers and Mayor Tilman in Mississippi Burning. On television, he hosted the History Channel series Mail Call and Lock N' Load.

Ermey was always a passionate supporter of gun rights and was a board member for the National Rifle Association.

His manager Bill Rogin said that while his characters were often hard and principled, the real Ermey was a family man and a kind and gentle soul who supported the men and women who serve in the military. He is survived by his wife Marianila, his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.