Paying Back and Beyond – Meet Kirk Taylor

Vietnam Medals, Photo: Ron Irwin
Full Metal Jacket, Photo: Courtesy of Ron Irwin

To fully understand my extraordinary interest in the opportunity recently given to me to interview an actor by the name of Kirk Taylor I must begin with a little snippet about my personal background.  I served in the United States Marine Corps in Chu Lai, Vietnam from mid 1966 to mid 1987, a period of 13 months. I am also a fan of one of the highest ranked movies ever made, “Full Metal Jacket” released in 1987 and ranked in the top 100 of all movies ever made according to IMDb.  It was and remains an extremely powerful movie that to an extent far greater than most accurately depicts much of the essence of the Marine Corps and its role in the Vietnam war. So when I was given the opportunity to interview on my radio show, “The Dr Ron Show” Kirk Taylor who played “Payback” in “Full Metal Jacket” I leaped at it faster than a lizard’s kiss.  

KirkTaylor, photo: Courtesy of Kirk Taylor

December 19th 2018 Kirk Taylor arrived about 10:30 a.m. at the studios of the Universal Broadcasting Network at the Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood.  He immediately struck me as sincere, friendly and very real. No phoniness from this actor, he is a man’s man and very real and sincere, in other words someone I instantly liked.  But I also just had to play to the moment because you see Kirk Taylor acted as a Marine in “Full Metal Jacket” and I was in fact a Marine in Vietnam during a period just a few months before the time period depicted in the movie.  In other words he pretended and I did it but as it turned out he knew the distinction very well. That is way he described everything he had done to prepare for that role including long walks alone into the woods to feel the sense of vulnerability and potential danger.  He is a man clearly committed to his craft and it becomes evident when watching the film.

Kirk Taylor, Photo: Credit FMJ

Before going on air with Kirk I also expressed the two and the only two significant disagreements I have with “Full Metal Jacket.”  Lee Ermey’s portrayal of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman was in most respects ever so true perhaps in part because Lee Ermey had in fact been a Marine Drill Instructor.  But no Marine Drill Instructor would ever permit let alone demand that the recruits call him “sir.” Call any Marine NCO “sir” and the offending Marine will be told firmly “Do not call me “sir” I am a Marine NCO I work for a leaving.”  Think about it,

The other major error in my opinion was that any recruit could at any time and in any way manage to get two live rounds of 7.62 millimeter bullets into a recruit barracks is utterly and totally impossible.  Ah but sometimes you have to break the reality to achieve the art. I get it but I still needed to mention it. Then it was show time. And by the way should want listen to this fascinating interview you may do so by simply clicking here The Ron Irwin Show.  

Kirk Taylor

During the next 50 minutes I learned that Kirk Taylor has indeed achieved a long and distinguished acting career.  In 1985 he appeared in three films, “The Last Dragon”, “Streetwalkin’” and “Death Wish 3” before landing his role in “Full Metals Jacket” in 1987.  In the 1990’s he had several television appearances on such well known shows as “Chicago Hope” and “Law and Order.” In the new 21st century he has appeared in various episodes of “All My Children”and “NCIS: Los Angeles.” Recently he just wrapped his latest film project “Revival” where he plays Cephas.  

But if you think that is impressive – well it is – but so is the fact that Kirk Taylor has also been involved in numerous productions on Broadway where he has acted, sung and composed music.  Moving forward Kirk Taylor is now developing his own production company so this man is unstoppable and absolutely represents the heart of the human soul. So I had to ask what he would advise all of those many aspiring actors that populate what we call “Hollywood” and his answer was as solid as it was to some extent predicable.  “You must fully and passionately commit yourself to your craft and never ever quit.” Yep that is the New York attitude and spirit and that is how the real winners happen.

All Photos: Courtesy of Ron Irwin

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