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

Vincent D’Onofrio is perhaps best known for his unforgettable role as the clumsy, overweight Marine recruit in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. However, his popularity waned after that iconic performance.

The actor, who turned 64 on June 30, 2023, underwent a significant physical transformation for the role, which caused him to lose the admiration of many women who had previously been drawn to his curly dark hair and athletic physique.

D’Onofrio’s extensive and varied résumé showcases his commitment to his craft, as he gives 200% to every role, fully embodying his characters to the point where audiences forget who he is.

Hailing from Brooklyn, D’Onofrio began his career in stage productions, both on and off-Broadway, while supporting his acting ambitions with various side jobs, including working as a bodyguard for Yul Brynner and Robert Plant.

In his early days, he made ends meet by working as a nightclub bouncer, delivering flowers, hanging drapes, and driving a cab.

After appearing in a few low-budget films, D’Onofrio’s friend, actor Matthew Modine, encouraged him to send an audition tape to Stanley Kubrick, who was casting for his next big project at the time.

The 6-foot-3 D’Onofrio, who was in excellent shape, landed the role of the heavyset, slow-witted Leonard, but it came with several conditions.

Working with Kubrick was a transformative experience for D’Onofrio, allowing him to deeply immerse himself in his character and push his acting limits in a challenging and intense setting.

To prepare for the role, the father of three, now 64, had to shave his full head of hair and gain 70 to 80 pounds—the most weight any actor has gained for a role to date.

“[Kubrick] asked me early on if I’d be okay with gaining this weight,” D’Onofrio recalled. “I gained about 30 pounds, but he thought I still looked like I could kick everyone’s ass. So, I ended up gaining 80 pounds, going from 200 to 280.”

Gaining the weight was tough for D’Onofrio, who then had to endure the grueling demands of the movie’s boot-camp scenes.

Obstacle courses, once easy for his athletic build, became particularly taxing at 280 pounds.

D’Onofrio’s compelling portrayal of Leonard earned him critical acclaim, but he also faced challenges with fans who confused the actor with his character.

“People treated me differently when I was that size. My head was shaved, so I looked completely different from the lanky actor I was. It was a very strange life change,” he shared. “Women didn’t look at me; I often saw their backs as they ran away. People talked to me like I was stupid.”

A year later, the Magnificent Seven star had regained his earlier physique and hair.

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. I’ve done over 50 films because of him and that role,” D’Onofrio said, referring to his numerous film and TV roles, 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.

D’Onofrio’s life was profoundly impacted by his parents’ divorce during his childhood. His mother later married George Meyer, a well-known American producer and writer, which led the family to move to Hialeah, Florida. As a child, D’Onofrio was introverted, often retreating to his room to be alone with his thoughts.

While in Florida, he developed an interest in magic and sleight of hand, learning from Cuban performers who ran a small magic shop.

In the early 1990s, D’Onofrio was romantically involved with actress Greta Scacchi. They appeared together in several films, such as The Player and Fires Within. They have a daughter, Leila George, born around 1991 or 1992, who has also pursued an acting career.

In 1997, D’Onofrio married Dutch model Carin van der Donk. They had their first son in 1999, but their relationship faced challenges in the early 2000s, leading to a separation. They later reconciled and had a second son in 2008.

In June 2023, D’Onofrio filed for divorce in Manhattan Supreme Court, ending his 26-year marriage to Carin van der Donk.

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

Vincent D’Onofrio delivered an outstanding performance in Full Metal Jacket, and his portrayal of Leonard’s mental decline is incredibly convincing. He looks quite different now, as expected after many decades, but his performances continue to captivate audiences!