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Ed Harris Rejected a Direct Offer From Stanley Kubrick, and He Knows ‘It Was Foolish’

Harris was personally selected by Kubrick to play the drill instructor in "Full Metal Jacket."

Cast member Ed Harris arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "Kodachrome" at Arclight Hollywood, in Los AngelesLA Premiere of "Kodachrome", Los Angeles, USA - 18 Apr 2018

Ed Harris

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Ed Harris has worked with some amazing filmmakers throughout his 42 years and counting in the business, from James Cameron to Ron Howard, David Cronenberg, Darren Aronfosky, and more. But it turns out the actor had the chance to work with the greatest filmmaker and he turned him down. Harris tells the Los Angeles Times that Stanley Kubrick called him directly to offer him the drill instructor role in “Full Metal Jacket.” He rejected the offer, and it’s shouldn’t be a surprise to know it’s one of his career regrets.

“Stanley Kubrick called me up one day and asked me to play the sergeant in ‘Full Metal Jacket,’ and I said no,” Harris said. “[R. Lee Ermey] was great and did a much better job than I would have done. But that always make me kind of go, ‘What were you thinking about?’ It might have been that I had a few too many beers that night. It was foolish.”

At the time of Kubrick’s phone call, Harris was coming off roles in Jonathan Demme’s “Swing Shift” and Robert Benton’s “Places in the Heart,” among other films. Kubrick had already directed such classics as “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “A Clockwork Orange,” and “Barry Lyndon,” and “The Shining,” so it’s a bit unclear why Harris would turn down the director in the first place. Little did Harris know at the time that the “Full Metal Jacket” sergeant role would become an iconic character.

R. Lee Ermey was cast in the role. The actor passed away last month. Harris can be seen in the Netflix original drama film “Kodachrome,” now streaming, and in his main role as the Man in Black on HBO’s Westworld.” Head over to the Los Angeles Times to read the actor’s full interview.

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