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(Credit: Warner Bros)


The unwelcomed record within Stanley Kubrick film 'Full Metal Jacket'

Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, released to much critical acclaim in 1987, tells the tale of various US marines as they go through boot-camp training. The film is one of the greatest and most poignant stories of the Vietnam War, grossing $120 million worldwide in the space of a year.

One of the main characters portrayed in the first half of the film is Private Leonard ‘Gomer Pyle’ Lawrence, an overweight and awkward member of the platoon. He continuously aggravates drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (Lee Ermey) and the rest of the men because of his incompetence. Collective punishment is enforced upon the platoon every time Lawrence makes a mistake, leading to further abuse fired in his direction.

Kubrick described the character of Lawrence as “the hardest part to cast in the whole movie”. However, he found his perfect Lawrence in Vincent D’Onofrio, a New York theatre actor who barely had any movie roles prior to being cast. D’Onofrio recorded his audition on a rented video camera, fully clad in army gear, and Kubrick found what he was looking for, quickly casting the actor in one of the leading roles.

Interestingly, Vincent D’Onofrio accidentally set a record during the filming of Full Metal Jacket. He was required to gain 70 pounds in order to secure the part, leaving him weighing 280 pounds, (that’s about 20 stone). Previously, Robert De Niro was the supposed champion of this method-acting technique, after gaining 60 pounds for his role as Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull.

Unfortunately for D’Onofrio, his dedication to the role caused torn ligaments in his legs that occurred when he carried out the obstacle course scene during the film. This meant that he had to have his legs surgically repaired. When filming wrapped up, D’Onofrio decided to return to his normal physique – 210 pounds – however, this took the actor nine months to accomplish.

Sadly, D’Onofrio did not receive any nominations for his phenomenal portrayal of a marine worn down by the demands of war and abuse suffered at the hands of his drill instructor. Nevertheless, he made history with the staggering amount of weight he gained, showcasing his dedication to such an important and memorable role.

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