BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 03: Matthew Modine attends Charles Finch and Chanel Pre-Oscar Awards Dinner at Madeo in Beverly Hills on March 3, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Movies - TV
Full Metal Jacket's Vietnam Set Was Literally Toxic, According To Matthew Modine
For his 1987 classic "Full Metal Jacket," Stanley Kubrick rounded up a group of young actors who worshiped him and flung them into two separate hells: a Parris Island boot camp and Da Nang during the Vietnam War. Kubrick shot the Vietnam half at the abandoned Beckton Gas Works in London, and the cast soon discovered it was a desolate hell and one big health hazard.
In a 2020 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Matthew Modine called the Beckton Gas Works "one of the most toxic places I've ever been to in my life." Kubrick shot the Vietnam portion of the film first because the facility was due for demolition. Modine said, “If you Wikipedia Beckton Gas Works, you'll see that there were probably 30 or more known carcinogens that were in the soil.”
Modine added, “There was also asbestos everywhere, and when you went home from work and took a bath, the tub would literally turn a kind of cobalt blue with all this dirt and chemicals that came off of your body.” No one should risk their health to make a movie, but on a purely aesthetic level, the location painted a hauntingly surreal backdrop for the hellish street combat sequences.