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Actor Gained 75 Pounds For ‘Full Metal Jacket’ Role

September 23, 1987 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ When Vincent D’Onofrio wanted to play an Italian kid from the Bronx, he worked in a Bronx pizza parlor to perfect the accent; when he wanted to play a mentally retarded man, he spent time with a group caring for such people.

And to portray the fat young recruit struggling through boot camp in Stanley Kubrick’s latest film, ″Full Metal Jacket,″ D’Onofrio gained 75 pounds.

″The hardest part was keeping the weight on,″ said D’Onofrio, who has since gone back to his normal, lean 200 pounds.

″My usual breakfast consisted of steak, three eggs, a half loaf of bread and a quart of milk,″ he said.

In ″Full Metal Jacket,″ Vincent D’Onofrio plays Pvt. ″Gomer″ Pyle, who cracks under the extreme hardships and discipline meted out to the young recruits by one of the toughest drill sergeants ever seen on screen.

D’Onofrio’s transformation of Pyle from a likeable, bumbling recruit to a crazed maniacal killer is a chilling performance, one that has caught the attention of many in the business.

The 28-year-old actor was born in Brooklyn and spent his early childhood in Hawaii. After finishing high school, He went to college in Colorado where he became interested in the theater, spending much of his time in community productions.

With encouragement from his father, who was also involved in the theater, D’Onofrio came to New York City to study with the American Stanislavsky Theatre. There he became a repertory actor and spent three years touring the country playing a variety of roles, among them, Murphy in ″The Indian Wants the Bronx″ and Lenny in ″Of Mice and Men.″

He returned to New York and landed his first professional job as a speech- impeded Italian kid from the Bronx in ″Open Admissions,″ for which he received favorable reviews.

After that he then spent another year acting in various off-off-Broadway, honing his skills.

The big break came when his friend, actor Mathew Modine, who had been cast in ″Full Metal Jacket,″ mentioned that Kubrick was looking for someone to play Gomer.

″I sent Kubrick a tape and he asked me to send another tape of me talking and being personable,″ said D’Onofrio. ″So I sent him a tape of me laughing and joking.″

″Kubrick liked it but he gave me somelines he wanted me to read and he also mentioned something about gaining an extra 10 pounds because he wanted a big fat guy,″ said the actor. ″A few more tapes and 75 pounds later I finally got the part.″

For D’Onofrio, working on the film with Kubrick was an extraordinary education. ″Kubrick taught me how to act in front of the camera,″ D’Onofrio said, ″and only asked what was needed of me.″

Another education for D’Onofrio was in being fat. ″People treat you differently when you’re fat.″ he said. ″In restaurants, waiters were always condescending.″

After ″Full Metal Jacket,″ D’Onofrio slimmed down - it took 5 months - and played in the comedy ″Adventures in Babysitting.″

He also will be appearing in an upcoming episode of ″The Equalizer″ airing Sept. 30 on CBS. D’Onofrio plays a mentally retarded adult, and as usual, he did his homework.

″I spent a lot of time with an organization that cared for the mentally retarded. It was an experience I will never forget,″ said D’Onofrio.

″I like characters you can delve into, characters that move people and make them think.″