• Tagline: Every man fights his own war.
• Director: Sam Mendes
• Writer: William Broyles Jr. & Anthony Swofford
• Release Date: 4 November 2005 (USA)
• MPAA Rating: Rated R for pervasive language, some violent images and strong sexual content.
• Parents Guide: View content advisory for parents
• Genre: Biography | Drama | War
• Runtime: 125 min
• Box Office #s: Here

Anthony “Swoff” Swofford, a Camus-reading kid from Sacramento, enlists in the Marines in the late 1980s. He malingers during boot camp, but makes it through as a sniper, paired with the usually-reliable Troy. The Gulf War breaks out, and his unit goes to Saudi Arabia for Desert Shield. After 175 days of boredom, adrenaline, heat, worry about his girl-fiend finding someone else, losing it and nearly killing a mate, demotion, latrine cleaning, faulty gas masks, and desert football, Desert Storm begins. In less than five days, it’s over, but not before Swoff sees burned bodies, flaming oil derricks, an oil-drenched horse, and maybe a chance at killing. Where does all the testosterone go?

From the Gallery

Cast Highlights

• Peter Sarsgaard … Alan Troy
• Jamie Foxx … Staff Sgt. Sykes


  • Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire originally vied for the lead role in the film.
  • Filmed in the Imperial Valley in Southern California, which features conditions very similar to Iraq. Marines did use one of the local towns, Brawley, for training purposes due to similarities to Iraq.
  • Scenes filmed in the Imperial Valley had the mountains in the background digitally removed. Additional desert scenes were also filmed in Mexico.
  • Some desert scenes were also shot on a Universal sound stage with lights doubling as burning oil wells. The lights were later replaced with burning wells courtesy of ILM.
  • Most of Swofford’s “anecdotes” are based on Urban Legends of the Marine Corps. He has made his unit the basis for “Did you hear about that guy who…” for most USMC legends.
  • One of the pictures on the “Wall of Shame” (just left of center) is of porn performer Kitty.
  • The word “fuck” and its variants are used 278 times in this film (38 times with the prefix “mother”).
  • Christian Bale, Emile Hirsch, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Shane West, Josh Hartnett and Joshua Jackson were both considered for the role of Swoff.
  • Michael Keaton, Kurt Russell, and Gary Oldman were all considered for the role of Lt. Col. Kazinski.
  • The soldiers watch Apocalypse Now (1979), which was edited by Jarhead editor Walter Murch.
  • Travis Aaron Wade was considered and read for the role of Troy.
  • According to Iván Fenyö, almost 70% of his performance was cut out. Two months before the release of the movie the director phoned Ivan and told him that the studio didn’t wanted most of the lines he had in the movie. According to the actor, some of his parts was about his notices as an East-European about democracy and the Gulf War.
  • Jake Gyllenhaal’s nosebleed during the prank branding scene was digitally added in post-production.
  • Staff Sgt. Sykes, played by Jamie Foxx, originally had a tattoo of a panther on the back of his shaved head. Foxx sported it during his award sweeps for Ray (2004/I). The tattoo was eventually digitally removed in post-production by director Sam Mendes, because he felt it made the character too “hard core.”
  • John Krasinski (Corporal Harrigan) wrote all of his dialog.
  • All of the sex scenes were shot the same day, leading Sam Mendes to comment, “It’s so nice to have sex today after all this war and death.”
  • While listed in the credits as Swoff’s sister, Jake Gyllenhaal’s character refers to her as Rini, which is in fact the real name of the actress who played the sister.
  • Cinematographer Roger Deakins operated the Steadicam himself in many scenes.
  • All Marines are taught to think of each other as brothers, since the production of Jarhead has wrapped, Jake Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard have actually become brothers in the real world, with the marriage of Peter Sarsgaard to Jake Gyllenhaal’s sister Maggie Gyllenhaal.


D.I. Fitch: What the fuck are you even doing here?
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: Sir, I got lost on the way to college, sir.

Reporter: Are you scared?
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: Look, I am twenty years old was and I was dumb enough to sign a contract. I can hear their fucking bombs already. I can hear their bombs and I’m fucking scared, yeah.

Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: [voice over narration] Every war is different, every war is the same.

Sgt. Siek: Will you shut the fuck up! There is no bugle program! You sizzle-dick motherfucker! Who do you think you are, some kind of Kenny G or some shit?
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: No, Staff Sergeant.
Sgt. Siek: Good.

Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: [the Doors’ “Break on Through” being played on a flying by helicopter] That’s Vietnam music… can’t we get our own music?

Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: [voice over narration] I was hooked.

Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: I wanted the pink mist.

[last lines]
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: A story. A man fires a rifle for many years. and he goes to war. And afterwards he comes home, and he sees that whatever else he may do with his life – build a house, love a woman, change his son’s diaper – he will always remain a jarhead. And all the jarheads killing and dying, they will always be me. We are still in the desert.

Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: [voice over narration] For most problems the Marine is issued a solution. If ill, go to sickbay. If wounded, call a Corpsman. If dead, report to graves registration. If losing his mind, however, no standard solution exists.

Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: [seeing the flames of the burning oil fields] The Earth is bleeding.

Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: Sir, the Drill Instructor looks fabulous in his uniform, sir!

Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: Field fuck!
Reporter: What did he just say?
Sgt. Siek: He said field fun.

Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: We call this friendly fire, friendly fucking, or getting friendly fucked.

Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: [voice over narration] Suggested techniques for the marine to use in the avoidance of boredom and loneliness: Masturbation. Rereading of letters from unfaithful wives and girlfriends. Cleaning your rifle. Further masturbation. Rewiring Walkman. Arguing about religion and meaning of life. Discussing in detail, every woman the marine has ever fucked. Debating differences, such as Cuban vs. Mexican, Harleys vs. Hondas, left- vs. right-handed masturbation. Further cleaning of rifle. Studying of phillipino mail order bride catalogue. Further masturbation. Planning of marine’s first meal on return home. Imagining what a marine’s girlfriend and her man Jody are doing in the hey, or in the alley, or in a hotel bed.

Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: [voice over narration] A flashlight was a moonbeam. A pen was an ink stick. My mouth was a cum receptacle. A bed was a rack. A wall was a bulkhead. A shirt was a blouse. A tie was still a tie, and a belt a belt. But many other things would never be the same.

[watching Apocalypse Now]
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: Shoot that motherfucker!

Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: My combat action has commenced.

Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: [voice over narration] The Marine must learn to kill. He may wear a tattoo, or display his medals, or tell lies in bars. But he is not a true marine until he has seen combat.

[first lines]
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: A story: A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he’s finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands, love a woman, build a house, change his son’s diaper; his hands remember the rifle.

D.I. Fitch: [to a whole squad of Marines] You are no longer black, or brown, or yellow, or red! You are now green! You are light green! Or dark green! Do you understand?
All Marines: Sir, yes, sir!
D.I. Fitch: Swofford!
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: Sir, yes, sir!
D.I. Fitch: You the maggot whose father served in Vietnam?
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: Sir, yes, sir!
D.I. Fitch: Outstanding! Did he have the balls to die there?
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: Sir, no, sir!
D.I. Fitch: Too f**king bad! He ever talk about it?
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: Sir, only once, sir!
D.I. Fitch: Good! Then he wasn’t lying!

Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: What’s up, buddy? Merry Christmas.
Corporal Harrigan: Yeah.
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: I hear you got some good shit.
Corporal Harrigan: Fly, rumor, on winged feet. Here… read this.
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: What is it?
Corporal Harrigan: It’s a love letter for the Major. I write all of his letters.
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: “Dear sweet Gloria, I wish I was up in you now with a finger in your ass. Love you, Captain Skinboat.”
Corporal Harrigan: I studied classics at Dartmouth.
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: It’s a good school.
Corporal Harrigan: Forty bucks, five gallons.

D.I. Fitch: Are you eyeballing me with those baby-blues? Are you?
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: Sir, no sir!
D.I. Fitch: Are you in love with me, Swofford?
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: Sir, no sir!
D.I. Fitch: Why, you don’t think I look good in my uniform, Swofford?
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: Sir, the D.I looks excellent in his uniform, sir!
D.I. Fitch: Oh, so you’re gay then and you love me!
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: Sir, I’m not gay, sir!
D.I. Fitch: You got a girlfriend, Swafford?
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: Sir, yes sir!
D.I. Fitch: Guess again, dumbass, Jody’s banging her right now! Get on your face and give me twenty five for all the times she’s gonna get fucked this month! Down on your face!

Sgt. Siek: Swofford? Swofford?
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: Yeah?
Sgt. Siek: What the fuck? You sick?
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: No, sir. I just got this stomach-thing…
Sgt. Siek: Staff Sergenat Siek. I’m with Surveillance and Target Acquisition. STA. I heard it took six guys to pull that little branding trick on you. And your file says that you ain’t dumb either. So you better get unsick most motha fucking rikey-tick, cause’ there’s a chance that you could be a scout sniper!
Sgt. Siek: [picks up Swofford’s book] What the fuck is this?
Sgt. Siek: “The stranger from Camus”. That’s some heavy dope right there, marine!

[Staff sgt. Sykes sends out his “best snipers”, Swofford and Troy]
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: Thank you, staff sergeant.
Staff Sgt. Sykes: What?
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: Thank you.
Staff Sgt. Sykes: Don’t thank me, just don’t fuckin’ die.

Kruger: Okay, yeah, sure, fine. I’ll take the fucking pills and a year later my asshole will turn inside out and start talking to me!
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: Okay, stop stop.
Kruger: This pills aren’t worth a shit.
Sgt. Siek: Kruger, you country motherfucker

Kruger: This is censorship.
Sgt. Siek: This is what?
Kruger: Censorship. You’re telling us what we can and can’t say to the press. That’s un-American.
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: Yeah, what about freedom of speech? The Constitution?
Sgt. Siek: No you signed a contract. You don’t have any rights. You got any complaints you complain to Saddam Insane and see if he gives a fuck.
Kruger: Why that’s exactly what Saddam Hussein does. You’re treating us the same way.
Sgt. Siek: You are a marine. There is no such thing as speech that is free. You must pay for everything that you say.

Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: The M16A2 service rifle is a lightweight air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine-fed shoulder weapon. It fires a 5.56 mm ball projectile at a muzzle velocity of 2,800 feet per second. This is my rifle. Repeat after me.

Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: [Swoff and Fergus are disassembling and reassembling their rifles in their tent. Cortez is sitting a few bunks down, messing with his radio] What would you say if I told you I was gonna kill you for fucking me over like that?
Fergus: I already told you, it was an accident.
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: An accident. Right. Like when the trigger slips. Of course, your nice little mom and dad are where?
Fergus: Cottonwood Falls.
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: Cottonwood Falls. They’ll be sad. THey won’t have their little boy to send fucking cookies to. I’ll say it was an accidental discharge. I might spend some time in the brig… but it’ll end this fucking waiting. And I don’t knwo what it’s like to kill a man.
[loads rifle and points it at Fergus]
Fergus: What are you doing?
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: I’m in the firing position known as the sitting position. After the prone position, it is the platform most likely to enable a Marine to effectivley kill his target. His target being a human, generally an enemy but sometimes a friend or friendly. We call this frinedly fire, or friendly fucking or getting friendly fucked.
Fergus: Come on Swoff, it was your watch! It was Christmans Eve, and I was just thinking about home. That’s it.
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: What do you think Cortez? You think I’ll accidentally kill your homeboy from boot camp?
Cortez: Sure you’ll kill him. Accidents happen.
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: You don’t see shit right?
Cortez: I don’t see shit. This ain’t even my tent. Matter of fact, I ain’t even here, Swoff.
[exits tent]

All Marines: This is my rifle, this is my gun. This is for fighting and this is for fun.

Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: [shouting at news van leaving] Come back soon, now you hear!

Sgt. Siek: I don’t give out too many special treats. But this morning we have a very special treat. Private Swofford here is going to play reveille for us. Okay, Swofford, play reveille.
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: I don’t have a bugle, Staff Sergeant.
Sgt. Siek: You don’t have a what?
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: I don’t have a bugle.
Sgt. Siek: Oh no. No, no. Damn, damn. You better play it with your mouth.
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: What?
Sgt. Siek: I said play it with your God damn mouth.

Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: [voice over narration] See that kid? The one dreaming to serve his country. That Jarhead is me.

Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: You poor bastard. I bet your recruiter promised you a whole wide world of pussy, huh?
Kruger: Fuckin’ eh. Cocksucker knew the price of every whore from Olangapo to Stockholm.
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: And here we are, headed to the desert – no pussy and a thousand miles.
Kruger: Fucked by the green weenie again!
Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford: Well, what would you be doing if you were a civilian? Staying up late, jacking off, playing Metroid – trying to get to that ninth level?
Troy: You know what happens when you get there?
Troy: Nothing. You just start all over again.