He played his break-through role so convincingly that women ran from him, believed he was dumb

Vincent D’Onofrio’s is probably best remembered for his iconic role as the chubby, inept Marine recruit in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket.

But after that, his popularity took a dive.

The ruggedly handsome actor, who turned 64 on June 30, 2023, said the role required a dramatic physical transformation, which resulted in him repelling the women who once swooned over his curly dark hair and athletic build.

Vincent D’Onofrio’s résumé is as lengthy as it is diverse. He always puts 200% into every part, and he is always able to become the character to the point you forget who he is.

The Brooklyn-born actor got his start in stage productions, some off-Broadway others on, and held numerous side hustles, like being a bodyguard to Yul Brynner and Robert Plant, to support his dreams of being an actor.

In his early days, he earned himself a living as a nightclub bouncer, delivering flowers, hanging drapes and driving a cab.

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

The 6-foot-3 D’Onofrio, who was incredibly fit, won the role of the fat, dim-witted Leonard, but it came with a few conditions.

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

The father of three, now 64, had to shave his gorgeous full head of hair, and gain 70 to 80 pounds, which to this date is the most weight gained by any actor for a role.

“[Kubrick] asked me early on would I be all right with gaining this weight and I went over there and gained about 30 pounds, and I remember him seeing it and saying that I only look like I could kick everybody’s a**. He thought some more weight would be needed.” Speaking of the role he played when he was 24, D’Onofrio continued, “I think it went up to 80 pounds…from 200 to 280.”

Gaining the weight was not an easy task for D’Onofrio, who was then faced with the gruelling demands of the movie’s boot-camp scenes.

Obstacle courses would have been easy with his athletic build but it was particularly taxing for someone weighing in at 280 pounds.

D’Onofrio’s impressive portrayal of the chubby, dumb and mentally disturbed Leonard earned him a lot of praise from critics but he also had to deal with fans who mistook the actor for the character.

“People treat you differently when you’re that size you gotta remember my head was shaved so it was like a completely different persona from me being this long lanky actor to a big burly guy with a bald head…it was a very strange life change.” The Broken Horses star continued, “It changed my life. Women didn’t look at me, most of the time I was looking at their backs as they were running away. People used to say things to me twice, because they thought I was stupid.”

One year later, the Magnificent Seven star had a full head of hair and his body was back to his earlier size.

Today, the New York-born director, producer, screenwriter and actor, who authored the 2023 book “Pigs Can’t Look Up,” credits his lengthy career to Kubrick.

“Stanley made my career, there’s no question to that I’ve done over 50 films, because of him. Because of that part.” D’Onofrio was referring to his numerous roles in both film and TV, most notably as a series regular on Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2001 to 2011) and Marvel’s Daredevil (2015 to 2018). His films include starring roles in Dying Young, The Break-Up and Jurassic World.

Vincent D’Onofrio wife and children
D’Onofrio’s life was greatly affected by his parents’ divorce when he was a child. His mother re-married George Meyer, a renowned American producer and writer.

As a result, the family moved to the Hialeah, Florida area. During his childhood, D’Onofrio was a reserved boy who often retreated to his room, lost in his thoughts.

While residing in Florida, he developed an interest in magic and the art of sleight of hand, skills he acquired from Cuban performers who operated a small magic store.

During the early 1990s, Vincent D’Onofrio was romantically involved with actress Greta Scacchi. They appeared together in multiple films during this time, such as The Player and Fires Within. From their relationship, they have a daughter named Leila George, who was born around 1991 or 1992, and she has since pursued a career as an actress.

In 1997, Vincent D’Onofrio tied the knot with 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 Manhattan Supreme Court, marking the end of the 26-year-long marriage with Carin van der Donk.

D’Onofrio can be seen with Sandra Bullock in 2021 film The Unforgivable and the soon-to-be released comedy Dumb Money.

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

He looks totally different now, as to be expected many decades later, but we still enjoy his performances!

What do you think about his portrayal of the dumb, fat Leonard?


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