Full Metal Jacket’s Original Author Wasn’t Happy With What He Saw On Stanley Kubrick’s Set

According to Gustav Hasford’s friend Grover Lewis, writing in the LA Times about the “Full Metal Jacket” saga, the author “hadn’t been invited onto the team as such […] but [Stanley] Kubrick hadn’t discouraged his visit, either.” A fan of General Custer’s phrase (“The only thing you have to know to be a soldier is to be able to ride toward the sound of the guns”), Hasford remained undeterred by Kubrick’s lack of enthusiasm. He had been in the UK since 1984 to collaborate on the film and once shooting got underway, he “wanted to see in fact whether the picture was being made.”

Already contemplating legal action over the credit situation, the writer took a couple of his friends to the Beckton set — a, quite literally, toxic place — “dressed up in tiger-stripe clothes” to try to sneak in as extras. According to John Baxter’s biography of Kubrick, once there, Hasford “wasn’t happy with what he saw, nor the changes wrought by Kubrick and Herr.” Baxter’s book also relates how Hasford apparently ramped up his efforts to gain appropriate credit on the film following his set visit and, according to author Lisa Tuttle, was “going to screw everything up for no reason.”

The reason seems clear. Hasford felt he had contributed more than Kubrick was willing to admit. But his impromptu set visit seemed to have made things worse. If anything, it sounds like Kubrick should have been the one who was upset, considering he had “extended [Hasford] an invitation to drop in sometime, but left the details carefully vague” Alas, the novelist found his way there, and it seems the fabricated Huế and plastic palm trees didn’t quite cut it for the man who’d experienced the real thing.

Leave a Comment