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Oliver Stone Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trade Mark (16) | Trivia (66) | Personal Quotes (62) | Salary (1)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 15 September 1946New York City, New York, USA
Birth NameWilliam Oliver Stone
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Oliver Stone has become known as a master of controversial subjects and a legendary film maker. His films are filled with a variety of film angles and styles, he pushes his actors to give Oscar-worthy performances, and despite his failures, has always returned to success.

William Oliver Stone was born in New York City, to Jacqueline (Goddet) and Louis Stone, a stockbroker. His American father was from a Jewish family (from Germany and Eastern Europe), and his mother, a war bride, was French (and Catholic). After dropping out of Yale University, he became a soldier in the Vietnam War. Serving in two different regiments (including 1rst Cavalry), he was introduced to The Doors, drugs, Jefferson Airplane, and other things that defined the sixties. For his actions in the war, he was awarded a Bronze Star for Gallantry and a Purple Heart. Returning from the war, Stone did not return to graduate from Yale. His first film was a student film entitled Last Year in Viet Nam (1971), followed by the gritty horror film Seizure (1974) for which he also wrote the screenplay. The next seven years saw him direct two films: Mad Man of Martinique (1979) and The Hand (1981), starring Michael Caine. He also wrote many screenplays for films such as Midnight Express (1978), Conan the Barbarian (1982), and Scarface (1983). Stone won his first Oscar for Midnight Express (1978), but his fame was just beginning to show.

1986 was the year that brought him much fame to the U.S.A. and the world. He directed the political film Salvador (1986) starring Oscar-nominated James Woods. However, his big hit was the Vietnam war film Platoon (1986) starring Charlie Sheen,Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, and Francesco Quinn. Berenger and Dafoe received Oscar nominations for their roles as the polar opposite sergeants who each influence the tour of duty of Chris Taylor (Sheen). Stone won his first Oscar for directing this film, which won Best Picture and was a hit at the box office. After Platoon (1986), Stone followed up with the critically acclaimed Wall Street (1987). The movie, starring Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas, focuses on the business world of tycoons and stock brokers. The film was well received and won an Oscar for Douglas' portrayal of the villainous Gordon Gekko. Stone returned immediately the following year with Talk Radio (1988), which talked of a foul-mouthed radio host (played by Eric Bogosian) who never fails to talk about the serious issues. Although it was not as successful as his last three films, Stone did not slow down at all. He directed Tom Cruise into an Oscar-nominated role in Born on the Fourth of July (1989).

The movie talked about the return of an embittered, crippled Vietnam soldier from the war. Although it failed to win Best Picture or Best Actor, Oliver Stone won an Academy Award for Directing, his third win to date. After Born on the Fourth of July (1989), Stone took a hand in producing several movies, including the Academy Award-winning film Reversal of Fortune (1990). He returned to the director's chair in 1991, once again with two films. Val Kilmer starred as the legendary and controversial Jim Morrison in Stone's psychedelic film The Doors (1991).

Despised by former Doors member Ray Manzarek, the film is nevertheless a wonderful achievement, with Kilmer pulling off an almost flawless impersonation of Morrison. Regardless of opinion, The Doors (1991) was overshadowed by Stone's colossal film JFK (1991), which Stone himself considers the best of his films. In Stone's movie, Jim Garrison tackles the conspiracy behind the murder of America's president John F. Kennedy. The large cast featured such well-known names as Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, John CandyJoe Pesci, Donald Sutherland, and Walter Matthau. This film represented a change in Stone's works, because it was with this film that he really began to explore the different camera styles and combining them together to create a multi-dimensional way of showing a movie. JFK (1991), as with Platoon (1986) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989), earned eight Oscar nominations and was one of Stone's most successful films. However, he failed to win a third Oscar for Directing.

After this film, Stone directed his third Vietnam film to date. Heaven & Earth (1993) was a film about the war from the viewpoint of a Vietnamese girl, and also co-starred Tommy Lee Jones (who had received an Oscar nomination for JFK (1991)). Despite its new woman's perspective and several positive reviews, it was a box office failure. Stone was unfazed; his next film is perhaps his most notorious film to date. Adapting a screenplay by Quentin Tarantino, Stone made Natural Born Killers (1994) starring Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore and Rodney Dangerfield in his only dramatic performance. The film was received well at the box office, while review were very mixed. Because of the violence that people claimed was inspired by the film, it was compared to Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (1971). As usual, Stone was at the center of controversial subjects; his next film Nixon (1995) was no exception. The film focused on the life of President Richard Nixon, played by Anthony Hopkins, while featuring another well-known cast, including Joan Allen in the role of Nixon's wife. Both went on to receive Oscar nominations, while Stone received his sixth Oscar nomination for Screenwriting. The film got mixed reviews, and failed to recoup its budget.

Aside from directing, Stone has worked as a producer on several different films. There was, of course, the successful film Reversal of Fortune (1990), which won Jeremy Irons an Oscar and also nominated the director for an Oscar. There was also the highly praised and successful emotional drama The Joy Luck Club (1993) which centered around four Chinese immigrant women whose relationships with their daughters is affected by their own lives. Another highly praised Oscar nominated film was Milos Forman's classic film The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996) starring Woody Harrelson, Edward Norton, and Courtney Love. Whether the crime/action film The Corruptor (1999) or the brilliant war epic Savior (1998), Stone has worked in a variety of film genres.

Stone had directed ten films in nine years; now however, he began to slow down. He directed the film U Turn (1997) starring Sean Penn and Jennifer Lopez. As with Natural Born Killers (1994), it was a dark and twisted satire on violence, but did not have the same success as the former. Stone was set to direct several projects in the late 90's but they fell through and were not made. However, success came back to Stone in the Al Pacino film Any Given Sunday (1999). This sports movie centered on the life behind the game of football, and it starred an impressive cast that included frequent Stone collaborators James Woods and John C. McGinley. This film was one of his most successful box office films, and put him back on track.

The following years brought Stone no new theatrical films, though he did make three fascinating TV documentaries. Two of them, 'Looking for Fidel' and Comandante (2003) were interviews of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, while 'Persona Non Grata' was an interview of several Palestinian leaders. Stone was also set to direct American Psycho (2000) with Leonardo DiCaprio and Beyond Borders (2003), starring Angelina Jolie and at the time, Ralph Fiennes. However, Stone dropped out of both projects, as did a number of the actors mentioned. Finally, five years after Any Given Sunday (1999), Stone directed a film he'd long wanted to make; the colossal epic Alexander (2004). Starring Colin Farrell as the Macedonian leader, Stone attempted to capture the essence of Alexander the Great through his conquests of the known world. The film focused on Alexander's relationships with his parents (a brilliant performance by Val Kilmer and a less impressive one by Angelina Jolie) and his relationships with his wife and childhood friend/ gay lover (played by Rosario Dawson and Jared Leto respectively).

Alexander (2004) was a critical failure, and failed to win back its budget domestically. Despite being one of 2004's highest grossing films internationally, and recouping its budget through DVD sales, Stone's pet project was heavily criticized. Despite a far superior version (Alexander Revisited) being released on DVD, the film's reputation remains low by the majority. Stone was personally stung at these attacks, but managed to rebound, if mildly, with his hopeful film World Trade Center (2006). The film centers on two firefighters trapped in the rubble of the twin towers. It received good reviews, and allowed Oliver to step forward from his failure towards the possibility of more films.

In late 2007, besides a number of projects Stone was set to direct "Pinkville", which would have been his fourth Vietnam film to date. It was set to star a large number of well known actors such as Bruce Willis, Toby Jones, Channing Tatum, Michael Pitt, Woody Harrelson, and Michael Peña. However, a week before shooting was to begin, the Writer's Strike was started, and the finance for the film was cut, using the strike as an excuse. After Willis backed out of the project, it was eventually scuttled, much like Stone's early productions of Platoon (1986) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989). Stone turned to another project he had worked on with former Wall Street (1987) collaborator Stanley Weiser. The project was W. (2008), a biography on president George W. Bush. Stone initially cast Christian Bale in the role of Bush but the actor dropped out at the last minute. Josh Brolin was cast, and this followed with a large cast of well known Oscar nominated character actors such as Richard Dreyfuss, James Cromwell, and Ellen Burstyn. The film was made in a record four months, starting in June and released in October. The film opened to mixed reviews, and though film's budget was recouped, it was not a financial hit.

Stone then made the documentary South of the Border (2009), a documentary which focused on bringing to light the positive aspects of the left-wing governments in South America, particularly Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. Stone was much less critical than usual, instead making the documentary as a response to the harsh reputation that Chavez has in the States. The documentary was poorly received in the States. Stone also began work on Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010). Starring Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Josh Brolin, Carey Mulligan, and Eli Wallach, the film focuses on the 2008 economic crisis, and the return of Gordon Gekko from prison. The film was screened at Cannes to positive reception, and hailed as Stone's triumphant return. After this, Stone made a film adaptation of "Savages", a novel by Don Winslow. The movie follows two highly successful marijuana growers (Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Taylor-Johnson ), whose shared girlfriend (Blake Lively) is kidnapped by a Mexican cartel and held for ransom. The movie also starred Salma Hayek, Benicio Del Toro, John Travolta, and Emile Hirsch. The film was a return to the tense action and violence of Stone's earlier films, though it polarized many audience members due to the colorful narrations of Lively's vapid and naive character, as well as the film's ending.

Oliver Stone is a three-time Oscar winner, and although he has mostly been stung by critics of his films, he remains a well-known name today in the film industry. The films he directed have been nominated for 31 Academy Awards, including eight for acting, six for screen writing, and three for directing. There is no denying that Stone has cemented himself a position among the legends of Hollywood.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Bob Stage

Spouse (3)

Sun-jung Jung (16 January 1996 - present) (1 child)
Elizabeth Stone (6 June 1981 - 7 January 1993) (divorced) (2 children)
Najwa Sarkis (22 May 1971 - 10 May 1977) (divorced)

Trade Mark (16)

Staccato change of camera types used
Often directs and writes historical films on controversial subjects, such as Platoon (Vietnam War), JFK, Nixon, The Doors, Salvador, Alexander and W.
Opens films with a quotation in white text against a black background
Often gives the lead actors in his films a special footage-enhanced credit appearance at the end of his films (Ex. 'Platoon', 'Nixon', and 'The Doors')
His films feature large casts, featuring many well-known actors in both major and minor roles.
His films have mostly centered on a male protagonist (the biggest exceptions are "Heaven & Earth" and "Natural Born Killers").
Has constantly worked with cinematographer 'Robert Richardson' military consultant Dale Dye, and producers A. Kitman Ho, Richard Rutowski, and 'Edward R. Pressman'.
Native Americans are frequently featured in his films
Typically ends his films with a closeup of a face or a couple arm in arm walking away from the camera.
The issue of family and fatherhood are frequently involved in his films. In JFK (1991), Garrison must juggle fatherhood with his job. In Alexander (2004), Alexander is torn between his parents. In Natural Born Killers (1994), both the main characters were abused by their fathers. In Platoon (1986) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989), the two main characters cite that they went to Vietnam to live up to their fathers fighting in the Second World War.
During a dialogue scene there will be frequent cutaways to details in the background that have symbolic resonance.
Cameos in most of his films When he doesn't, his son, Sean Stone, does
Shoots the majority of his films on location, often using practical settings.
Frequently references classic mythology and literature
Usually has multiple camera setups rolling in a single take, and encourages a noisy set with a lot of racket. Both are done in order to encourage frenetic and uninhibited performances

Trivia (66)

Educated at Yale and New York University.
Born at 9:58am-EDT
Did a tour of duty in Vietnam.
In Vietnam Stone won the Bronze Star for Valor and the Purple Heart with First Oak Leaf Cluster. Stone was jailed for marijuana possession in Mexico at the age of 21.
Father of sons Sean Stone (born December 29, 1984) and Michael Stone (born 1991) with Elizabeth Stone and a daughter, Tara Stone (born November 3, 1995) with Sun-jung Jung.
His father Louis Stone was a successful stockbroker on Wall Street, then he suffered some financial setbacks due to bad investments and a bitter divorce from Oliver's mother Jacqueline. The movie Wall Street (1987) is supposed to be modeled after Lou.
Oliver's father met his mother while he was President Dwight D. Eisenhower aide in WWII in France. As a child he was raised by a nanny because his mother frequently took vacations to France. He grew up as a child of privilege.
Arrested for drunken driving and possession of hashish. [June 1999]
Says he kicked a cocaine habit by moving to France while writing Scarface (1983).
Friends since childhood with Lloyd Kaufman, founder and president of Troma.
Speaks French fluently.
Underwent infantry training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
Shares the exact same birthday as good friend and star of some his films, Tommy Lee Jones. Both were born on September 15, 1946.
The same drum theme playing in the beginning of JFK (1991) (for which he was a producer), plays three times in The Day Reagan Was Shot (2001) (for which he was an executive producer).
Is a friend and admirer of Cuban Premier Fidel Castro, and shot a documentary about the world's longest reigning Communist leader, titled Comandante (2003). It was to air on HBO in May 2003, but due to fierce protests by anti-Castro Cuban-American activists, it was shelved and has never been aired on HBO or made available on home video in the USA. Stone then made a new, more pointed documentary titled Looking for Fidel that aired on HBO in February 2004, in which he asked Castro questions about his human rights record, and included interviews with anti-Castro activists.
Directed Comedian Rodney Dangerfield in his first and only dramatic role in Natural Born Killers (1994).
On September 14, 1967, he left for Vietnam and was assigned to the 2nd Platoon of Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Infantry Division, stationed near the Cambodian border, as "Pvt. Bill Stone" (fearing that "Oliver" was too effeminate).
Wrote a collegiate letter of recommendation for Claire Danes when she applied to his alma mater, Yale University. She was quickly accepted.
Often talks about the experience of his father Louis Stone taking him to lose his virginity to a prostitute in his mid-teens.
Was voted the 43rd Greatest Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
Oliver's American father, Louis Stone, who was born Louis Silverstein, was from a Jewish family (from Germany and Eastern Europe). Oliver's mother, Jacqueline (Goddet), was French.
Was taught by Martin Scorsese at New York University Film School.
His 11-minute student film made at NYU is called Last Year in Viet Nam (1971).
As of 2004, Stone is attached to direct several projects. "Spite House", which he wrote and will direct about Vietnam. "The Fountainhead", based on the Ayn Rand novel. "Lennon", a biopic of John Lennon, a biopic of Margaret Thatcher, and a biopic of sorts about an attempted assassination plot by the Republican party against President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Directed 8 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: James Woods, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Michael Douglas, Tom Cruise, Tommy Lee Jones, Anthony Hopkins and Joan Allen. Douglas won an Academy Award for Wall Street (1987).
Known for the political content of his films, Stone was a member of the Class of 1968 at Yale University along with US President Bill Clinton administration adviser Strobe Talbot and future President George W. Bush (John Kerry was also there at the same time as Stone, though he was several classes ahead of '68). Stone left Yale after only one year (he failed all his second-semester freshman classes) and ended up joining the army and fighting in Vietnam. He never returned to graduate from Yale.
Was attached to direct American Psycho (2000) with Leonardo DiCaprio in talks to star as Patrick Bateman. After DiCaprio left the project to make The Beach (2000) Stone left it also.
Received two Academy Award nominations for best original screenplay in the same year, 1987 (Salvador (1986) and Platoon (1986)) but lost to Woody Allen for Hannah and Her Sisters (1986).
Has directed four actors into Best Actor Oscar nominations, and three actors to Best Supporting Actor nominations. Lead roles were James Woods (Salvador (1986)), Michael Douglas (Wall Street (1987)), Tom Cruise (Born on the Fourth of July (1989)) and Anthony Hopkins (Nixon (1995)). Supporting roles were Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger ("Platoon") and Tommy Lee Jones (JFK (1991)).
Following the furor over JFK (1991), Stone addressed the U.S. Senate over the continued secrecy of documents relating to the John F. Kennedy assassination. Partly through his efforts, the government began declassifying documents.
Interviewed in "Directors Close Up: Interviews with Directors Nominated for Best Film by the Directors Guild of America", ed. by Jeremy Kagan, Scarecrow Press, 2006.
Frequently casts Frank Whaley.
Was planning to make a film about Eva Perón, but after several disagreements with Argentinian President Carlos Saúl Menem he abandoned the project. He later received a token credit as a writer for Evita (1996), despite having made no input to the script.
As of this date (May 2008), World Trade Center (2006) is his first film rated "PG-13" and his only feature film to receive a rating of less than "R". As Of September 2008, W. (2008) is his second film to receive a PG-13 rating.
Because of his specialty with Vietnam era period pieces, he was one of the first directors to be offered American Gangster (2007) in 2001. After long consideration, he decided to pursue making his passion project, Alexander (2004), instead.
Although he is a two-time Academy Award-winning filmmaker, it's been consistently difficult for him to acquire actors of his preference for most of the films he has directed. Casting Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday (1999) and Tom Cruise in Born on the Fourth of July (1989) are the most significant exceptions where Stone's top choice was either available or agreed to partake in an Oliver Stone production.
Has sought Warren Beatty for three of his movies (Nixon (1995), Wall Street (1987) and W. (2008)). Beatty declined them all, and the parts went to Anthony Hopkins, Michael Douglas, and James Cromwell respectively. Hopkins and Douglas received Oscar nominations for their roles.
As of this date (May 2008), World Trade Center (2006) is the only one of his war-related films to be made with government cooperation (by the Port Authority).
Was set to begin filming his fourth Vietnam film 'Pinkville' in late 2007. However, after the Writers' strike began, the producers pulled out, and Bruce Willis moved on. Stone then turned his attention to making a W. (2008) which will star Josh Brolin.
Took a year's absence from Yale in 1965 to teach at a Catholic private school in Vietnam.
Sought Marlon Brando for two of his films: U Turn (1997) and Salvador (1986). James Woods who played the character in Salvador (1986) that Brando had turned down, received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Jon Voight, who played the role meant for Brando in U Turn (1997), received a Razzie for Worst Supporting Actor.
After graduating from New York University, he worked as a cabdriver and a xerox messenger to support himself.
Has worked with two generations of two different acting families. Worked with Jon Voight and his daughter Angelina Jolie in U Turn (1997) and Alexander (2004) respectively. He has also worked with Martin Sheen and his son Charlie Sheen in Wall Street (1987).
As of 2008, has directed five films where people he based the main characters on were still alive and participated in the making of the film. These are Born on the Fourth of July (1989), World Trade Center (2006), JFK (1991), Salvador (1986), and Heaven & Earth (1993). Also, he is working on a film about George W. Bush while he is still in office.
Aside from directing James Woods in three of his films, Stone has also produced "Indictment: The McMartin Trial", and Killer: A Journal of Murder (1995), both starring James Woods.
Has worked with all of the Baldwin brothers. He cast Alec in Talk Radio (1988) and the other brothers made appearances in Born on the Fourth of July (1989).
Was flown to Vietnam traveling west from Sacremento, California on the evening of September 14th, 1967 and crossed the international date line, arriving in Vietnam September 16th, losing his 21st birthday.
Wrote a short film while still a student that was recently turned into a short film by his son Sean Stone. The title of the film is Singularity (2008) and is Sean's first fiction film.
Midnight express and Scarface were written by him, and in both films, Giorgio Moroder composed the score.
In the 1992 Sight & Sound poll, Oliver Stone listed these as his top ten films of all time: The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Dr. Strangelove (1964), 1900 (1976), Raging Bull (1980), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), On the Waterfront (1954), The Godfather, Parts I & II (1972/74), Paths of Glory (1957), Citizen Kane (1941).
Had previously directed 6 of the acting nominees of the 81st Academy Awards: Sean Penn, Angelina Jolie, Viola Davis, Josh Brolin, Michael Shannon, and Robert Downey Jr. as well as having worked as screenwriter for Mickey Rourke. He directed Brolin and Shannon in W. (2008) that same year (although Shannon's scene was cut).
Returned to America from his teaching job in Vietnam by serving on board a Merchant Marine vessel that came to port in Oregon.
Is one of 7 directors to win the Golden Globe, Director's Guild, BAFTA, and Oscar for the same movie, winning for Platoon (1986). The other directors to achieve this are Mike Nichols for The Graduate (1967), Milos Forman for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), Richard Attenborough for Gandhi (1982), Steven Spielberg for Schindler's List (1993), 'Ang Lee' for Brokeback Mountain (2005), and Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire (2008).
Credits his tour of duty in Vietnam for turning him toward film instead of literature, which was his education. He found that cameras were much more practical to use in the jungle than books and paper, which got soaked.
Shia LaBeouf, who acted in Stone's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010), described him as 'Orson Welles and the Easter Bunny all in one guy'.
Dedicated Wall Street (1987) to his father, and Heaven & Earth (1993) to his mother.
His father, a retired Army Colonel, opposed his decision to enlist in the Army to fight in Vietnam, and tried to get him assigned non-combat duty. After being transfered out of Bravo Company, Stone was offered a job with the CIA, which he declined, opting to finish his tour of duty in the 1st Cavalry Division.
His family's name was originally Silverstein. It was his father Louis Stone who made the decision to change his name to Stone.
(March 23, 2009) Attended the 3rd Annual Asian Film Awards, in which he presented with Joan Chen the award for Best Director to Hirokazu Koreeda.
Rang the NASDAQ opening bell on September 20, 2010 to celebrate the N.Y.C. premiere of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010).
Three of his movies were nominated for AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills: Platoon (1986), JFK (1991) and Natural Born Killers (1994). 'Platoon' made the list at #72.
Began producing his documentary TV series The Untold History of the United States (2012) in 2008 and continued working on it between other projects it until 2012, making it a four year production, the longest of his career. He also put up $1 million of his own money into the project 's budget.
Wrote the novel "A Child's Night Dream" when he was 19 years old. It wasn't published until 1998.
Has been friends with Arnold Schwarzenegger since writing the script for Conan the Barbarian (1982). At one point, they both had offices on the same floor of the same building with Stone's on the left and Schwarzenegger's on the right, which they joked represented their respective political viewpoints.
Parallels with Steven Spielberg: both directors frequently make historical films, often about U.S. Presidents (JFK (1991), Nixon (1995), W., Amistad (1997), Lincoln (2012)). They have both directed Tommy Lee Jones in an Oscar-nominated performance (JFK and Lincoln). They have both earned an Oscar nomination for the actor playing the President (Josh Brolin, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Anthony Hopkins once each). They have cast David Paymer and Bruce McGill as members of a President's cabinet. They both frequently use John Williams to score their films.
Did a director's cameo in Savages (2012). Dances on the map of France.

Personal Quotes (62)

I consider my films first and foremost to be dramas about individuals in personal struggles and I consider myself to be a dramatist before I am a political filmmaker. I'm interested in alternative points of view. I think ultimately the problems of the planet are universal and that nationalism is a very destructive force. I also like anarchy in films. My heroes were Buñuel and Godard. Breathless was one of the first pictures I really remember being marked by, because of the speed and energy. They say I'm unsubtle. But we need above all, a theatre that wakes us up: nerves and heart.
Nationalism and patriotism are the two most evil forces that I know of in this century or in any century and cause more wars and more death and more destruction to the soul and to human life than anything else.
[on legacies] Alexander's lasted 2,300 years. Why? He's remembered because of his vision, because of his compassion, because of his generosity, because of his spirit, because he was different. He was a general, a man who was able to weep over his [dead] soldiers on the battlefield. Never before had that happened. So this is a special man who has been remembered. There is a reason this film [Alexander (2004)] was made. It is bigger than us, bigger than me, bigger than Colin [Colin Farrell] and all our team.
[on Alexander (2004)] But I always liked the Greek outfits. They were sexier than the Romans', you've got to admit. And they didn't wear sandals. They wore boots. So don't call it a sword-and-sandal [movie], for Christ's sake! It's sword-and-boot, OK?
[on Alexander the Great] This was the golden boy of all history. I've been trying to make Alexander (2004) for a long time. In 1991 with Val Kilmer, in 1996 with Tom Cruise. Then Colin Farrell came along, and he was perfect. He was a tough, Tyrone Power, barstool-looking boy from Dublin. We made him a blond, which was perfect for him, and he became Alexander.
He went for the head. Kill the king, and your enemy folds. Alexander would have gone after Osama bin Laden. I'm sorry, but [John Kerry] was right.
I don't believe in this business of chopping up a film and then releasing a "director's cut" on DVD. What you see should be the director's cut. This is the director's cut. If you can spend four hours killing Bill, Alexander (2004) deserves some space.
If we had to do things the American PG way, then we were screwed. Alexander (2004)] had to be an R picture. If you work in Hollywood, you have to get past the studio development committees. The thousands of demands. The previews where they dumb it down for the audience. The system wears you down. It's a monster--demanding, uncompromising. [Martin Scorsese] and Spike Lee] have been through hell ...
If I could talk to Alexander, I'd ask him why he married Roxane. But the Greeks did have a regard for women: Six of the 12 gods are women, after all. Marrying her pissed off all of his men, but he didn't care, he was making a point.
The Cold War has been the most irritating thing to me personally. Throughout my life we've been in the grip of militarism and military budgets and a mindset that dictates a war on Communism, and that's a drain on the national energy. The real enemy is nationalism and patriotism.
[on JFK (1991)] I thought it was a helluva thriller. JFK's [John F. Kennedy's] murder marked the end of a dream, the end of a concept of idealism that I associate with my youth. Race war, Vietnam, Watergate. If JFK had lived, the combat situation in Vietnam would never have occurred.
I love intelligent films that come at you fast. I don't have attention deficit disorder, my mind moves fast. There's a lot to deal with in my films. We had so many facts to go through, so the governing style was flash, cut, flash, repeat.
If I were [George W. Bush], I would shoot myself. I think he lives in fear of drinking again. There's nothing more dangerous for America than an ex-alcoholic President who tells you to believe in Jesus.
I wasn't prophetic. It was there all around us. Money was the sex of the 1980s.
Alexander to me is a perfect blend of male-female, masculine-feminine, yin-yang. He could communicate with both sides of his nature.
The Indians once told me that stones are the most revered and ancient of recording devices. And that perhaps I am here on this Earth to write of these mute histories - just another stone, an 'Oliver' stone.
[on the 9/11/01 terrorist attack on New York City] This attack was pure chaos, and chaos is energy. All great changes have come from people or events that were initially misunderstood, and seemed frightening, like madmen.
I believed in the John Wayne image of America. My father was a Republican, and he taught me that it was a good war because the Communists were the bad guys and we had to fight them. And then there was the romanticism of the Second World War as it appeared in the films we mentioned. Obviously, the reality was very different.
They make prostitutes of us all.
When I go to the movies, and I have to sit through ten previews of films that look [alike] and tell the whole story, you know that we've reached an age of consensus. And consensus is the worst thing for us. We all agree to agree. That's where we lose it as a culture. We have to move away from that.
[on Platoon (1986)] I wrote the "Platoon" script in 1976 in New York City. Primarily because I'd reached a point in my life that if I didn't write about it, I would forget what had happened in the war.
The film business? I love film, but the film business is shit.
Josh [Josh Brolin] is actually better looking than George W. Bush] but has the same drive and charisma that Americans identify with Bush, who has some of that old-time movie-star swagger. I want a fair, true portrait of the man [for my film].
I should be making movies about the Dulles brothers [John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles], I should be making movies about [Dwight D. Eisenhower], I should be making movies about the fifties and the forties. We should be free. I'm hamstrung, I mean, they're always . . . preordaining, proclaiming . . . They always make a brouhaha, a controversy, out of nothing. It's like they're trying to keep me away from these areas.
The reaction to JFK (1991) was just stunning. I've never spent so much time defending a film after its release.
[About John F. Kennedy] He was the first man who stood up as a world leader and said, "We are one people, one planet. We must survive together or we will not survive at all". And it's a shame, because he was almost 30 years ahead of his time because 30 years later they're saying that.
[About his Vietnam experience] You get to a point where you can smell them [the enemy] . . . I got to a place where I was using all my senses.
[About his early childhood] It was a harsh upbringing in the sense that my parents divorced quickly. I was in a boarding school, so it was all boys in those days . . . And there was no femininity in my life either. My mother was often in Europe, I didn't see her very much.
[on casting Charlton Heston in Any Given Sunday (1999)]: I wanted to show him he was still loved for all he gave to the movies. I remember his strength while in substantial pain from arthritis, during long shooting hours. He was a gentleman on the 14th hour, as he was on the first.
If [George W. Bush] had spent some time in Vietnam, he would have a very different view on war.
I'm tired of defending the accuracy of my movies. JFK (1991) was a case to be proven, Nixon (1995) was a penetrating biography of a complex and dark man. But I'm not bound by those strictures any more. [George W. Bush] is not a complex and dark man, so it's different. This movie can be funnier because Bush is funny. He's awkward and goofy and makes faces all the time. He's not your average president. So, let's have some fun with it. What are they going to do? Discredit me again?
The film business has always been full of strange characters. Who the hell gets into this business but gamblers and buccaneers and pirates? You don't get Henry Paulson as a producer in this business, that's for sure.
I'll welcome any sorts of investors in my films, as long as I can keep my freedom and my content free of interference. If you're asking if I would do a movie with a known drug dealer, no, I wouldn't. You don't want to corrupt a movie, though the nature of the film business lends itself to criminal enterprises.
[on Stanley Kubrick] The most interesting aspect of a scene is "controlled uncertainty". That's what Kubrick got. Everybody else would shoot pretty conventionally, but when I saw [Jean-Luc Godard] or Kubrick, in that period when I was studying film with more intensity, there was an unpredictability about Stanley Kubrick. Even as a kid, I didn't know what he would do next. It's the way Kubrick looks at reality. His reality is supercharged.
No man dies in vain. You die because you believe for something. You hope that the cause is worth it. And in Vietnam we have reasons to question it. But you die hopefully with honor and with courage. And you should be remembered for your sacrifice. That is not to say the war was right, but you honor the men who fought in the war.
I thought we [the United States] were going to go to war in Iran. If we had been more successful in Iraq, I have no doubts that we would have been more involved in the Iranian situation now.
[on Bernie Madoff] Madoff I consider to a be a sociopath; he was a crook running a Ponzi scheme.
[on the recession] Wall Street has an important role to play, and it can be a very constructive role in financing, in new business, in financing state bonds and pension plans. But the speculation is the mother of all evils. There have to be regulations. And we're not getting these regulations in place.
Look, you know something of what I've fought against in the U.S. establishment, but - McDonald's is good for the world, that's my opinion. Because I think war is the most dangerous thing. Nationalism and patriotism are the two most evil forces that I know of in this century or in any century and cause more wars and more death and destruction to the soul and human life than anything else - and can still do it with nuclear war. The prime objective we have in this era is to prevent war, to live in peace. The best way you can do that is to bring prosperity to as many people across the world as you can. And when you spread McDonald's all over the world, food becomes cheaper and more available to more people. Won't it be great when they can have McDonald's throughout Africa?
The Pax Americana, to me, is the dollar sign. It works. It may not be attractive. It's not pretty to see American businessmen running all around the world in plaid trousers, drinking whiskey. But what they're doing makes sense. Now it's been picked up more intelligently by the Japanese, the British, the Germans. But it brings education, health, and welfare to the rest of the world.
I don't feel particularly old, but I feel it in the morning when I wake up. Film is exhausting to make, it's a very tiring process physically.
You cannot approach history unless you have empathy for the person you may hate. We can't judge people as only "bad" or "good". [Adolf Hitler] is an easy scapegoat throughout history and it's been used cheaply. He's the product of a series of actions. It's cause and effect.
I agree with my father that the foundation of a healthy, prosperous and relatively free society is capitalism. The whole Alexander Hamilton idea of capitalism was to make the country grow, and he was essentially right that banks could be used to make the country grow, because we need capital and we need credit. And that is fundamental, and somehow people when they attack Wall Street so blindly, so ignorantly, they lose sight of that function.
J.P. Morgan merits enormous attention. He was a pharaoh. He controlled American business and governments in a way that's never been seen since.
[on Russia and China] When I was researching dissidents during the 1980s in the Soviet Union, there was a form of denial, which was that these people, who were very courageous people opposing the regime, were going to psychiatric institutes. The Russian people did not understand them and I felt very sorry for these people. I tried to do a movie about it but it could not get it financed. But I remember at that time researching the Brezhnev [former Soviet president Leonid Brezhnev] regime how much of a hero Joseph Stalin was to the average Russian who did not really know about the great purges, and terrors, and famines of that period. Of the 1920s, '30s and '40s. Self-delusion of a population in denial is overwhelming to me still at my age. In China, which I've visited several times, I see a new generation, young people, crippled with amnesia. Unable to gain access to their own history. And then I see a generation my age, older people, men and women, and I'm amazed by what they've been through in their lifetime. Far more than I have, because they have lived a Lewis Carroll life, where it's been a 180-degree turn at the middle of their lives, at the age of 30 or 40 they've moved from collective Communism and worship of one god Mao, to a highly brutal competitive individual consumption and corruption in the name of another god: money.
[on Alan Parker] Yes, I did say Alan Parker has no sense of humor, and this comment will haunt me for the rest of my days. But he doesn't, does he? Have I missed something?
[on his script for Scarface (1983)] Al Pacino intimidated me when I watched him in rehearsals, I saw how he turned Tony Montana into something very feral, something immigrant and hungry and decadent.
[on taxation] I pay 50% at the end of the day, it's a lot of dough. We work very hard, but we try to create things, we produce things. I think production is the key, I think producers should be encouraged. But when you're a speculator and you don't produce anything, that's where I think you should be taxed differently. I think there should be a bank tax. I think there should be a speculation tax, much higher. There's been proposals to that effect and they get defeated by the Republicans in Congress. I would put a tax on speculation because if you roll over stuff and you're just making money with money, like a casino, that's when you should really be taxed. A "Casino Tax", so to speak. But I don't really think taxing productivity is wise beyond a certain point. I'll pay 50%, but when you get to the 60% mark you're really dying, because you give jobs. My dad, who was a stockbroker, used to say, "No profit without production".
When I did Platoon (1986) in 1986, I was saying very openly that marijuana helped me survive the war. It helped me keep my humanity in a situation that was dehumanizing.
It's not a war on drugs. It's a war for money. There's too much money in it to back out now. Even if they taxed it, and they'd love to, there's so much money on the criminal investigation side with the DEA and the prison system. There are so many people in jail for drugs. They spend billions annually keeping non-violent criminals in jail, many of them drug users. How do you go back after forty years of tactics that haven't worked?
[on Taylor Kitsch] He is very laid back. He's got that Canadian attitude. But he's a great athlete. He's a good boxer and apparently a great hockey player. At the same time he's powerful on camera. He conveys what in the old days you'd call a man's man.
You see a coarsening of society through war. If you think not showing the coffins that come back to the United States is a solution, that's not so. We have to be more truthful about the nature of violence.
I gave [my children] the best education I thought they could get . . . but I realize you have to go through some suffering and pain. People don't appreciate education unless they are an immigrant or coming up the hard way. It's a sense of entitlement.
I grew up conservative, remember. So I had a William Buckley view of the United States in the '40s and '50s - that we were good guys, and that we were moral, and that we were doing the right thing. And now I think, how did we become this bully - this international terror that dominates the world scene today?
I do feel that the Jim Crow laws are very important, coming back, by the Suprene Court gutting the Voting Rights Act. The gerrymandering that's going on in the states. I do believe that we owe this Republican legislature to that gerrymandering. And part of that is that ballot security issue. Every time... you've got have IDs for the poor and so forth. It's cutting out the blacks. They are really hanging on to... they don't want the Hispanic, Asian, black mixture to take over. I think that's what the Supreme Court thing is. I think that's what the gun laws are about too. The states want states rights. They want to keep the rules white. That's how I see this Tea Party.
I grew up conservative, remember. So I had a William Buckley view of the United States in the '40s and '50s - that we were the good guys, and that we were moral, and that we were doing the right thing. And now I think, how did we become this bully - this international terror that dominates the world scene today?
[on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963] Like everyone, it was sad for the country. He was a handsome young man with a beautiful family, but the consequences of the act did not have meaning for me until later. Within four years I'd be in Vietnam as a ground soldier. And then as I got older, JFK's presidency became more important to me in retrospect than ever before.
[on his film Wall Street (1987) and its leading character, the reptilian Gordon Gekko] When I made the movie I thought greed was NOT good. But I learned people really like money. They like to make money. They will even admire the villain with the money - even when he breaks the law.
The Hollywood blockbuster is based on the idea of the conquering hero and that we are the exceptional nation, the indispensable nation, the rescuer of nations. But it's a fantasy, and people like Obama haven't really studied their history. They haven't studied cause and effect. Besides, the heroic narrative does not work because everyone thinks they're the hero, and then you end up with crazy heroes around the world trying to be a crusader.
I grew up living in the heart of the American dream in New York City. My father was conservative. I served in the military and it took several years after that of seeing the world from the point-of-view of people who were exploited and abused to change my perception. And my films have also taught me about aspects of life. With 'Untold History' I had the chance to really study and broaden my knowledge of the American past. And it's not the bill of goods they taught us in school.
Corruption surrounds us. It's in every part of the American organism now, from Wall Street to the military, to legislators and politics. It's endemic.
[on President Eisenhower's warning about an expanding military-industrial complex] It's only gotten worse because the money has gotten much bigger. Now we're in an impossible situation where we find ourselves driven into wars, driven into a hundred and some thirty countries where we have military alliances, military bases. We can't seem to get out of it. I'm not sure that any one single man, one president, can do anything about it.

Salary (1)

Scarface (1983) $300,000

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