R. Lee Ermey

It only makes sense that R. Lee Ermey found such long-running success using the same tough-talking persona in countless film and TV roles. For Ermey, the persona was based more on reality than on Hollywood magic. Born in Emporia, Kansas in 1944, Ermey had a penchant for mischief as a teenager, and was arrested more than once. Finally, at age 16, a judge offered him a choice between enlisting in the military and serving jail time, and he happily chose the former. Ermey served in Marine Wing Support Group 17 for several years, including 14 months spent deployed to the Vietnam War. After he was discharged, he landed an opportunity to serve as a technical advisor on the film "Apocalypse Now" (1979), also playing a small role in the film. He later signed on to offer similar advisement to Stanley Kubrick on the movie "Full Metal Jacket" (1987), but after Kubrick watched Ermey ream out extras in a training video, he decided to cast him in the film as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. The role made Ermey an extremely well known face, and he would continue to put his on screen persona to use for the next three decades, memorably appearing as the police captain in "Seven" (1995) and the TV announcer in "Starship Troopers" (1997), and hosting History Channel's "Mail Call" (History, 2002-07). Ermey passed away in 2018. He was 74 years old.