R. Lee Armey

R. Lee Ermey

Ronald Lee Ermey (born March 24, 1944) is a former U.S. Marine Corps drill instructor and later Golden Globe-nominated actor, often playing the roles of authority figures, such as Gunnery Sergeant Hartmann in Full Metal Jacket, Mayor Tilman in the Alan Parker film Mississippi Burning and Sheriff Hoyt in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. He currently hosts Mail Call, a military history program on The History Channel, where Ermey answers military-related viewer questions. Ermey is also an official spokesman for Glock firearms, Tupperware, Hoover, and the Young Marines, and has also appeared in commercials for Coors Light and Dick's Sporting Goods.


Early life and military career

Born in Emporia, Kansas, Ermey enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1961, after being arrested several times as a teenager. A court judge gave him the choice of the military or jail. He later joked that the Marine Corps "put a screeching halt to my unconventional manner." He spent two years as a drill instructor at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California, and Parris Island, South Carolina from 1965 to 1967. In 1968, Ermey arrived in Vietnam where he served for 14 months with the Marine Wing Support Group 17. He then served two tours of duty in Okinawa, Japan, during which he rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant (E-6) and was medically discharged in 1972 for several injuries incurred during his tours. He did not receive a Purple Heart due to his injuries being noncombat in origin.

Acting career

Ermey was cast in his first movie while attending the University of Manila in the Philippines, using his G.I. Bill benefits. He first played a Marine drill instructor (SSgt Loyce) in the 1978 Vietnam-era film The Boys in Company "C", which brought Ermey to the attention of Stanley Kubrick in later years. Ermey then played an Air Cavalry Officer in Apocalypse Now, doubling as a technical advisor to director Francis Ford Coppola on that film. For the next few years, Ermey played a series of minor film roles until 1987, when he was cast as tough drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartmann in Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket; Ermey also served as the technical advisor on the film. Initially, he was only intended to be the technical advisor, but Kubrick changed his mind after Ermey put together an instructional tape to convince Kubrick he was the right person for the role, in which Ermey went on an extended hair-raising drill instructor tirade towards several Royal Marines cast as extras, all the while being pelted by oranges and tennis balls, and managing to do so without repeating himself, stopping, or even flinching. Kubrick allowed him to write his own dialogue and improvise on set, a noted rarity in a Kubrick film. Kubrick later indicated that Ermey was an excellent performer, often needing just two or three takes per scene, also a noted rarity for a Kubrick film. Ermey was so convincing on set as the DI, that in one instance, he barked an order at Kubrick, at which point Kubrick instinctively stood at attention and followed orders before realising what happened. Ermey's performance won critical raves and he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award as Best Supporting Actor. He would subsequently play tough drill instructor in the pilot episode of Space: Above and Beyond and ghost of a drill instructor in the film The Frighteners, both similar to his character in Full Metal Jacket.

He has since appeared in approximately sixty films, including Mississippi Burning, Dead Man Walking, Se7en, Leaving Las Vegas, Prefontaine, Saving Silverman, On Deadly Ground, Life, Man of the House, Toy Soldiers, as well as the remakes of Willard and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Ermey also lent his voice to The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Toy Story and Toy Story 2, as well as Roughnecks and X-Men 3. He has also served as a voice-actor, usually in a commanding military role, for shows such as Kim Possible, The Simpsons, Family Guy, SpongeBob SquarePants, Miami Vice, House, Scrubs, My Life As a Teenage Robot and Invader Zim, in addition to hosting the documentary series Mail Call. Many rumours put him in the role of Colonel Hoffman of the upcoming Gears of War movie.

Ermey has lent his distinctive voice to several video games, including Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel (as General Barnaky) and Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex (as Wa-Wa). He also made a cameo in Real War: Air, Land, Sea, a retail real-time strategy computer game based on the official Joint Chiefs of Staff training game. Ermey traveled to Kuwait in June 2003 during the first phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom to film mail distribution by the Defense Department to service personnel for an episode of "Mail Call". According to a 2005 episode of Mail Call filmed at Whiteman Air Force Base, he is the 341st person to fly in the B-2 Stealth Bomber.

On May 17, 2002 he received an honorary promotion to Gunnery Sergeant (E-7) by the Commandant of the Marine Corps (later Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR)) United States Marine Corps General James L. Jones, becoming the first retired military member in the history of the United States Marine Corps to be promoted.

He has also conducted morale tours visiting U.S. troops in locations such as Bagram Airbase, Afghanistan in which he filmed parts for his television show Mail Call. While at Bagram Air Base he held a USO type show in which he portrayed GySgt Hartman and conducted a comedy routine. He also did the same thing at Doha, Qatar in 2003.

On Mail Call, Ermey discusses weaponry, tactical matters, and military history. 'Mail Call's subject matter is dictated by viewer emails; one episode may focus on an M1A1 Battle Tank, while another may involve World War II secrets, while a third might focus on elements of Medieval warfare. The set consists of a military tent, other military gear and weapons, and Ermey's personal jeep armed with his own 30 cal. M1919 Browning machine gun. Commercial breaks are signaled with typical DI type language, such as,"Goin' to the can? I don't think so. Keep your butt parked on that couch!"

Military awards


Year Title Role Notes
1978 The Boys in Company "C" Sergeant Loyce (Drill Instructor, Co. 163)
1979 Apocalypse Now Eagle Thrust Seven helicopter pilot uncredited
1984 Purple Hearts Gunny
1987 Full Metal Jacket Gunnery Sergeant Hartmann
Miami Vice Detective Sergeant
Ernest Haskell
guest star
"Rising Sun of Death"
Episode 9, Season 4
TV series
1988 Mississippi Burning Mayor Tilman
1989 The Siege of Firebase Gloria Sergeant Major Bill Hafner/Narrator
Fletch Lives Jimmy Lee Farnsworth
Demonstone Colonel Joe Haines
1990 The Take Weller television movie
I'm Dangerous Tonight Lieutenant Ackman television movie
83 Hours 'Til Dawn Glen Fairling television movie
The Terror Within II Von Demming
The Rift aka Endless Descent Captain Phillips
1991 Toy Soldiers General Kramer
True Identity Houston's Boss uncredited
Kid Luke
1993 Hexed Detective Ferguson
Sommersby Dick Mead
Body Snatchers General Platt
Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. Marshal Brisco County Senior
Double Switch (Video Game) Lyle (the handyman) Credited as R. Lee Emrey in the Sega CD version
1994 French Silk Chief Crowder television movie
On Deadly Ground Stone
Rise and Walk: The Dennis Byrd Story Mr. Byrd uncredited; television movie
Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult Mess Hall Guard uncredited
Chain of Command Benjamin Brewster
Savate Benedict uncredited
Love Is a Gun Frank Deacon
1995 Murder in the First Judge Clawson
Leaving Las Vegas Conventioneer
Se7en Police Captain
The X-Files Reverend Findley episode " Revelations"
TV series
The Simpsons Colonel Leslie Hapablap voice only
episode "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming"
animated series
Toy Story Sergeant voice only
animated film
Under the Hula Moon Lt. Col. J. P. McIntire
Dead Man Walking Clyde Percy
Best of the Best 3: No Turning Back Preacher Brian uncredited
1996 Space: Above and Beyond Sgt. Maj. Bougus television movie
The Frighteners (ghost of) Sgt Hiles
Soul of the Game Wilkie television movie
1997 Dead Men Can't Dance Sen. Pullman T. Fowler
The Angry Beavers Sergeant Goonther voice only
episode "Fancy Prance/H2Whoa!"
animated series
Weapons of Mass Distraction Billy Paxton television movie
Rough Riders Secretary of State John Hay
Prefontaine Bill Bowerman
Cracker Lieutenant Fry TV series
Switchback Sheriff Buck Olmstead
The Sender Colonel Rosewater
1998 Gunshy Jerry
1999 You Know My Name Nix television movie
Life Older Sheriff Pike
Avalanche Gary
SpongeBob SquarePants Prison Guard voice only
episode "The Inmates of Summer"
To Save a Squirrel"
Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot General Thorton TV series
The Apartment Complex Frank Stanton
Toy Story 2 Army Sarge voice only
animated film
2000 The Chaos Factor Col. Ben Wilder
Skipped Parts Caspar Callahan
Roughnecks: STC Sky Marshall Sanchez
Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins Sarge voice only
animated direct-to-video film
Jericho Marshall
2001 Saving Silverman Coach Norton
Recess: School's Out Colonel O'Malley voice only
animated film
Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 President Richard Benson
Family Guy Coach voice only
episode "Mr. Saturday Knight"
animated series
Taking Sides General Wallace
Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel General Barnaky voice only
video game
Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex Wa-Wa the Water Elemental voice only
video game
On the Borderline Captain Elias
Real War: Air, Land, Sea voice only
video game
Real War: Rogue States voice only
video game
2002 Run Ronnie Run! Lead Kidnapper
The Salton Sea Verne Plummer
Invader Zim Sergeant Hobo 678 voice only
animated series
History Channel's Mail Call Gunny (Himself) TV series
Frank McKlusky, C.I. Jockey Master uncredited
A.K.A. Birdseye Sheriff Gathers
Scrubs Janitor's Dad guest star
episode "My Old Man"
TV series
Y.M.I. John
2003 Willard Frank Martin
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Sheriff Hoyt
2004 The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy Drill Sergeant voice only
animated series
Father of the Pride Sergeant Bunny voice only
animated series
episode "One Man's Meat Is Another Man's Girlfriend"
2005 House John House Appeared in the episode "Daddy's Boy"
TV series
Man of the House Captain Nichols
2006 X-Men: The Last Stand Sergeant voice only
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning Charlie Hewitt/Sheriff Hoyt
2008 Solstice Leonard
House John House Due to appear in the episode "Birthmarks"
TV series

Other media

Samples of Ermey from Full Metal Jacket are used in several albums:

  • Fear Factory's Suffer Age.
  • Ministry’s album The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste, on the track "Thieves". Contrary to some reports, the voice credited as "Sgt. Major" on the same band's Rio Grande Blood is not Ermey.
  • Front Line Assembly's track "Millennium"
  • Grendel's track "Soilbleed V.3"
  • Combichrist's track "This Is My Rifle"
  • Killarmy's track "War Face"
  • Terre Thaemlitz's release "Soil", on the track "Yer Ass is Grass"
  • Quotes of Ermey saying, "Now go home and snuff that bitch!" "Here you are all equally worthless." "Get on your knees, scumbag!" "Who's the slimy little communist shit, twinkle-toed cocksucker down here who just signed his own death warrant?" and others appear on multiple songs by the band Killwhitneydead.
  • Samples of the line "Here you are all equally worthless" from Full Metal Jacket are repeated throughout the song "Never Get Caught" by American Head Charge.
  • April 27, 1997. He played a Leppazoner trainer in "Fancy Prance," an episode of The Angry Beavers, where Norbert trains to become, instead of being a "lolligagger."
  • November 23, 2007. He played the Warden in "The Inmates of Summer" in an episode of the SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon (Nickelodeon).

In other media:

  • Provided the voice for a speaking "motivational action figure" depicting him in USMC drill instructor uniform with preprogrammed voice messages activated by pressing a button on the figure. The figures' dialogue comes in two versions, one with (somewhat) family-friendly language and one with "Extra-Salty" dialogue which includes profanity, the latter of which is packaged with an R rating as a warning to consumers (pictured at right). One of these figurines also appears on occasion on Mail Call, wherein it is often referred to as 'Mini-Lee' by the host, sometimes seen berating a G.I. Joe figurine.
  • In one showing of a UFC: Fight Night Live event, Ermey was shown on camera as a guest along with an audience of US Marines.
  • A Japanese audiobook/comic parody on "Learning Japanese"-books; Drill Sergeant Maritan contains several quotes of Ermey from Full Metal Jacket, such as "I bet you could suck a golfball through a garden hose" and "Who said that? Who the fuck said that? Who's the slimy little communist shit, twinkle-toed cocksucker down here who just signed his own death warrant?"
  • Pani Poni Dash, an anime which bases its humor heavily on parody and references has one scene which clearly parodies Ermey from Full Metal Jacket, featuring an animated drill instructor who looks just like Ermey.
  • Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, another anime series, features one episode where the main character is put in charge of a weak, effete rugby team and whips them into shape, berating them in a similar manner as Hartman and using similar quotes from Full Metal Jacket.
  • The computer game Star Trek: Armada II contains a reference to Ermey. The random name cycle of the Federation's Iwo Jima-class boarding vessel will eventually create a ship named the R. L. Ermey.

External links

Search another word or see R. Lee Armeyon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature