«He played his pioneering role so convincingly that women fled from him, thinking he was foolish.»

Vincent D’Onofrio is probably best known for his iconic role as the overweight and inept marine recruit in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket.

But after that, his popularity declined.

The devastatingly handsome actor, who celebrated his 64th birthday on June 30, 2023, stated that the role required a spectacular physical transformation, which led to him repelling women who had once swooned over his curly brown hair and athletic build.

Vincent D’Onofrio’s CV is as extensive as it is diverse. He always gives 200% to every role and has the ability to fully embody the character to the point where you forget who he is.

The Brooklyn-born actor started his career in theater productions, some outside of Broadway and others on the inside, and took on various side jobs, such as being a bodyguard for Yul Brynner and Robert Plant, to pursue his dream of becoming an actor.

In his early days, he made a living as a nightclub bouncer, flower delivery man, curtain installer, and taxi driver.

But after appearing in a few low-budget films, a friend of D’Onofrio, actor Matthew Modine, encouraged him to send an audition tape to Stanley Kubrick, who was at the time casting for his next major success.

D’Onofrio, who stands at 1.80 meters and is incredibly fit, landed the role of Leonard, overweight and stubborn, but with some conditions.

Working with Kubrick was a transformative experience for D’Onofrio, as it allowed him to deeply immerse himself in his character and explore his acting abilities in a challenging and intense environment.

The father of three, now 64 years old, had to shave his magnificent hair and gain between 30 and 40 kilograms, which to this day is the heaviest weight gain by an actor for a role.

«Kubrick asked me very early on if I was willing to gain this weight. I went there and gained about 13 kilograms, and I remember he saw it and said I only looked like I could kick everyone’s ass. He thought I needed to gain a bit more weight.» Speaking about the role he played at the age of 24, D’Onofrio continued, «I think I gained up to 40 kilograms… from 90 to 127 kilograms.»

Gaining weight was not an easy task for D’Onofrio, who then had to deal with the strenuous demands of the boot camp scenes in the film.

Obstacle courses may have been easy with his athletic build, but it was particularly challenging for someone weighing 129 kilograms.

D’Onofrio’s impressive portrayal of Leonard, a rotund, mute, and mentally disturbed character, earned him much praise from critics, but he also had to contend with fans who confused the actor with the character.

«People treat you differently when you’re this size – you have to remember, I had a shaved head, so it was like a completely different character, from the lanky actor I was to the big, bald-headed guy… it was a very strange life change,» the star of Broken Horses continued. «It changed my life. Women didn’t look at me, most of the time I was looking at their backs as they ran away. People would say things to me twice because they thought I was stupid.»

A year later, the star of Magnificent Seven had a full head of hair again, and his body had returned to its former size.

Today, the New York-born director, producer, screenwriter, and actor, author of the book «Pigs Can’t Look Up» (2023), attributes his long career to Kubrick.

«Stanley made my career, there’s no doubt, I’ve done over 50 films because of him. It’s thanks to that role,» D’Onofrio referred to his numerous roles in film and television, including the series Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2001 to 2011) and Marvel’s Daredevil (2015 to 2018). In the world of cinema, he has notably appeared in Dying Young, The Break-Up, and Jurassic World.

Vincent D’Onofrio’s family life was significantly affected by his parents’ divorce when he was a child. His mother remarried George Meyer, a renowned American producer and writer.

The family then moved to the Hialeah area in Florida. During his childhood, D’Onofrio was a reserved boy who often withdrew into his room, lost in thought.

During his time in Florida, he developed an interest in magic and the art of sleight of hand, skills he acquired from Cuban artists who ran a small magic store.

In the early 1990s, Vincent D’Onofrio had a romantic relationship with actress Greta Scacchi. They appeared together in numerous films during that time, such as The Player and Fires Within. From their relationship, a daughter named Leila George was born around 1991 or 1992, who has since pursued an acting career.

In 1997, Vincent D’Onofrio married Carin van der Donk, a Dutch model.

Together, they welcomed their first son in 1999. However, their relationship faced difficulties in the early 2000s, leading to a separation. They later reconciled and had a second son in 2008.

In June 2023, D’Onofrio initiated divorce proceedings in the Supreme Court of Manhattan, marking the end of their 26-year marriage with Carin van der Donk.

D’Onofrio can be seen alongside Sandra Bullock in the film «The Unforgivable,» released in 2021, and in the upcoming comedy «Dumb Money.»

Vincent D’Onofrio was fantastic in Full Metal Jacket and his mental decline as Leonard is incredibly believable!

It doesn’t look at all the same today, as you might expect several decades later, but we still enjoy its performance!

What do you think of his interpretation of the stupid and fat Leonard?

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