Before They Were Stars: R. Lee Ermey in “Apocalypse Now”

Yes, you read that right! Eight years before Full Metal Jacket, R. Lee Ermey had a very brief uncredited bit part in another iconic Vietnam War classic. Contrary to popular belief, Full Metal Jacket was NOT the first time that R. Lee Ermey played a drill sergeant in a film. He actually made his official acting debut by playing a drill instructor in a lesser known 1978 Vietnam film called The Boys in Company C (you can even see snippets of him in the film’s trailer). He was soon hired by Francis Ford Coppola to work as his military technical advisor on Apocalypse Now and also earned himself a small role in the film’s most famous scene. Yep, R. Lee Ermey actually plays Colonel Kilgore’s helicopter pilot during their assault on the village. You can first see him at the 2:24 mark of this clip, reciting the line: “This is Eagle Thrust Seven. We’ve got it spotted”. As if this whole sequence needed ANOTHER reason to be awesome!

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