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Semper Fi – R. Lee Ermey

by Brian Trenchard-Smith Apr 16, 2018

R. Lee Ermey acted in three of my films and was a good friend. Sad to lose him so young. He was so strong, energetic, resolute, in command, I thought he would live forever. He worked hard to build a career after his riveting performance in Full Metal Jacket. As an untrained actor, he could have been relegated to the flash in the pan category. But he brought a Marine disciple to his new profession. He learned to memorize pages of dialogue, an unfamiliar task during his 13 years in the military. He learned how to tap into those aspects of his persona that fitted each role.

In Dead Man Walking he channeled the pain of war into the pain of bereavement. In Fletch Lives and Saving Silverman he displayed his skill with outrageous comedy. I love his dry deliveries in Mississippi Burning. In 2000 I cast him in Omega Code 2 which he played as a blend of Eisenhower and Truman. I rejoiced when he got his own show Mail Call, which was a huge success, spawning further successes. But he had time for those less fortunate. He travelled to Iraq and Afghanistan many times to entertain the troops. Lee never got caught up in the bullshit side of showbiz. His mid west values remained unchanged. Although our politics differed, he represented a lot of what I admire about America. He was a loving family man, and was always kind to my family whenever we got together. Semper Fi, Lee. You will be missed.