Interviews


Oliver Stone


Occupation: Director, Producer, Writer
Date of Birth: September 15, 1946
Place of Birth: New York, N.Y., USA
Sign: Sun in Virgo, Moon in Taurus
Relations: First wife: Majwa Sarkis; second wife: Elizabeth Burkit Cox; companion: Chong Son Chong; kids: Sean, Michael, Tara Chong
Education: Yale University, New York University film school

 

UNLIKE the hordes of young men who sought refuge in the nation's universities in order to escape the draft, Oliver Stone dropped out of Yale and enlisted to serve in Vietnam. He worked first as a teacher and then as a combat soldier, and was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Like many who survived Vietnam, Stone hasn't let it go without a lot of therapy, which in his case translates to big-budget pictures depicting the war and its aftermath. He studied film at N.Y.U. under Martin Scorsese and began his film career as a screenwriter. He wrote the scripts for Year of the Dragon and Scarface, and he earned an Oscar for his screenplay for Midnight Express, in 1978.

Stone's 1986 release, Salvador, was the first of what would become his signature directorial subject  the political picture. Platoon, released that same year, provided a personal account of a war the country had tried hard to forget. The success of the film (Stone earned his first Academy Award for directing) helped to focus attention back on the war and its veterans. Several other well-received films followed, including the nasty, "Greed is good" flick Wall Street, and a somber Tom Cruise film, Born on the Fourth of July, for which Stone received his second Best Director Academy Award. The Doors was D.O.A., despite Val Kilmer's brilliant portrayal of Jim Morrison.

All hell broke loose with the release of JFK. The film revolved around Jim Garrison (played by Kevin Costner), the New Orleans D.A. who believed there was a conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy and a cover-up that stretched to the highest levels of government. The film not only compelled Congress to open previously sealed files on the shooting, but it rekindled the country's interest in the Kennedy case and the events surrounding it. The overblown Heaven and Earth (another Vietnam picture) received a mixed response, as did an ultra-violent "satire," Natural Born Killers, but with 1995's Nixon, Stone offered a complex and sensitive portrait of the rise and fall of the beleaguered former president. Proving he has a sense of humor about his reputation for being a fervent conspiracy theorist, Stone appeared as himself in Ivan Reitman's mistaken-identity comedy, Dave, to advance his hypothesis that the president is an imposter. The year 1997 witnessed the release of Stone's hyperkinetic, pulpy U-Turn, a film that followed antihero Sean Penn's accidental visit to a hick town in Arizona; the year also marked the release of Stone's autobiographical novel, A Child's Night Dream. Two years later, he brought to the screen a pro football saga, Any Given Sunday, which starred Al Pacino as a Vince Lombardi-style coach and Dennis Quaid as a past-his-prime all-star quarterback.

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