The actor, who was born in Brooklyn, started out in Broadway and off Broadway stage productions. In order to support his acting career, he took on additional employment as a bodyguard for Yul Brynner and Robert Plant.
He used to work as a nightclub bouncer, deliver flowers, install curtains, and drive taxis for a living.
After a few low-budget jobs, D’Onofrio’s friend, actor Matthew Modine, persuaded him to send an audition tape to Stanley Kubrick, who was casting for his next big hit at the time.
The 6-foot-3, extremely athletic D’Onofrio was given the part of the fat, dim-witted Leonard, but with some limitations.
For D’Onofrio, working with Kubrick changed his life since it allowed him to fully commit to the part and refine his acting in a challenging and demanding environment.
The father of three, 64, had to shave his gorgeous full head of hair and gain 70–80 pounds, which is still the most weight an actor has ever gained for a role.
I went over there and put on roughly thirty pounds after [Kubrick] asked me whether I would be OK gaining this much weight at an early stage. I remember him saying that all I seemed to be able to do was kick people in the ass. He thought that more weight would be needed. Regarding the role he played at the age of 24, D’Onofrio remarked, “I think it went up to 80 pounds…from 200 to 280.”
D’Onofrio had to put on some weight and then endure the rigorous standards of the movie’s boot-camp scenes.
Obstacle courses would have been easy for him given his athletic build, but at 280 pounds, they were extremely difficult.
D’Onofrio faced criticism for his skillful depiction of the mentally disturbed, obese, and ignorant Leonard, but he also had to deal with supporters who believed he was the actual Leonard.
As you may remember, I had my head shaved, so I went from being this long, lean actor to a large, strong guy with a bald head. People view you differently when you’re that size. It was a truly strange turning point in my life. The Broken Horses performer continued, saying, “It changed my life.” Women avoided looking at me, preferring for me to look at their backs while they ran away. People who felt I was stupid used to comment on me twice.
A year later, the Magnificent Seven star’s body had grown back to its former size and he had a full head of hair.
The New York-born actor, producer, screenwriter, and filmmaker who authored the book “Pigs Can’t Look Up” in 2023 credits Stanley Kubrick with helping him have a longer career.
The separation of D’Onofrio’s parents had a big effect on him as a young child. His mother had married a well-known American writer and producer named George Meyer.
As a result, the family moved to the Hialeah, Florida area. D’Onofrio was a reserved youngster who often retreated to his room to spend time by himself thinking.
While residing in Florida, he developed an interest in magic and the art of sleight of hand after picking up these skills from Cuban performers who owned a tiny magic store.
Early in the 1990s, actress Greta Scacchi and actor Vincent D’Onofrio were romantically involved. They appeared together on screen in a number of movies during this time, such as Fires Within and The Player. Their relationship’s daughter, Leila George, was born in 1991 or 1992, and she has since pursued an acting career.
In 1997, Vincent D’Onofrio wed Carin van der Donk, a Dutch model.
In 1999, they welcomed their first son together. However, issues in their relationship compelled them to call it quits in the early 2000s. They reconciled in 2008 and had a second son.
D’Onofrio filed for divorce from Carin van der Donk at Manhattan Supreme Court in June 2023, ending their 26-year marriage.
D’Onofrio appears in the 2021 film The Unforgivable, starring Sandra Bullock, and the upcoming comedy Dumb Money.
Vincent D’Onofrio did a fantastic job in Full Metal Jacket, and his depiction of Leonard’s mental collapse is quite accurate!
Even though he looks very different now, as one may expect after several decades, we still enjoy his performances!
What are your thoughts on his portrayal of the foolish, chubby Leonard?