Interesting things I’d learned from watching the DVD extras on Full Metal Jacket
1. Kubrick had wanted to adapt the short story ‘Shorttimers’ during the 1970s after his project ‘Napaleon’ collapsed, but Coppola made Apocalypse Now and the project was shelved.
2. Originally it was meant to have a twelve week shooting schedule, but the producers anticipated that Kubrick would go over this. The finished film took eighteen months.
3. I noticed during a helicopter landing shot a large pylon can clearly be seen, somewhat disrupting the illusion that this was Vietnam and not abandoned warehouse on the Isle of Dogs, East London. Also, during the battle scene, squad leader Cowboy’s breath can be seen as he calls for reinforcement on the radio showing how cold it actually was.
4. The character of the Driller Instructor, played by Lee Ermery, was rewritten after Ermery expressed an interest in the role, despite never acting before (although he played a pilot in AN, and did some other supporting roels). The actor who was originally hired appears briefly as a helicopter gunner.
5. Lee Ermery had been a real DI for thirty months and was hired to train the actors during boot camp before production. He improvised alot of dailogue, which Kurbrick liked, but had difficulty remembering it for the takes that the director used.
6. Actors were concerned that he might loose his voice from intense shouting.
7. Kubrick and his producers auditioned three thousand British actors to play the marines.
8. Vincent D’Onofrio (Piles) was working as a doorman in NY or LA when he bumped into his friend Matthew Modine (Joker) who suggested he audition.
9. During pre-production Kubrick borrowed his wife’s car and took Lee Ermery and the cast on a tour of the set, but crashed into a ditch, and then continued explaining as if nothing had happened, walking down the road while the others stood in shock.
10. The battle scene where the marines are sat behind a wall and watch a man shot by the sniper lasted one month. The actors found it hard to believe this one shot in a single scene took so long.
11. During the confrontation meeting between Animal Mother and Joker, Kubrick made Adam Baldwin do one line 30 times, which when he complained in front of the cast and crew, Kubrick simply told him he ‘wanted better acting’.
12. Kurbick would often have meetings with the cast about what they thought the ending should be. In the original script, Animal Mother was supposed to decapitate the female sniper and show it to Joker, but Kubrick thought this was too bloody, and as a producer had remarked ‘felt he’d overdone it on Clockwork Orange’.
13. The female characters in the film provide an interesting contrast and threat to the marines masculinity and firepower.
14. I’d felt the Animal Mother character was an interesting mirror of the Private Piles character, since both characters appear large and deranged, and attempt to challenge Joker on a base level.
15. Modine published a journal about his experience http://fullmetaljacketdiary.com/