Oliver Stone’s BiographyOliver Stone is an American director, scriptwriter, and producer who gave this world masterpieces such as Platoon (1986), Wall Street (1987), Natural Born Killers (1994), and Alexander (2004). He is the author of the scripts for iconic movies: Scarface starring Al Pacino (1983) and Midnight Express (1978). In 2017 he released a series of video interviews with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Net worth: $70 million.
ChildhoodOliver was born on September 15, 1946, in New York; his mother, Jacqueline Goddet, was French and his father, Louis Stone (born Silverstein), a stockbroker, was Jewish. Oliver’s parents met during World War II; Louis, as well as other American soldiers, were sent to assist French troops.
Oliver went to Trinity School in New York; then his parents sent him to the school at Pennsylvania College. In 1962, while Oliver was studying diligently far away from home, his parents got divorced unexpectedly. He took their separation pretty hard. Later, he developed a closer relationship with his father than with his mother; he often focused on the theme of father-son relationships in his movies.
He frequently spent his summer holidays with his maternal grandparents: either in Paris or La Ferté-sous-Jouarre. This impacted his future life in at least two ways: firstly, he gained a perfect command of the French language; secondly, it was in Paris that the 17-year-old boy started doing business (he sold sugar and cocoa), which inspired the making of the Wall Street movie in the mid-’70s.
In 1964, Oliver graduated from school and entered Yale University; however, he didn’t stay there long. He quit his studies in 1965 and taught English to South Vietnamese students for the next six months; then he got the job of a janitor on a military ship. Eventually, he came back to Yale but was expelled, partly due to the fact that he spent more time working on his autobiography than studying. In 1997, this autobiography was published under the title of A Child’s Night Dream; the release of its screen version is planned for 2018.
According to Zoomboola.com, in September 1967, Stone went to fight in Vietnam; he took part in the Battle of Fire Support Base Burt and was wounded twice. He came back home in April 1968 and was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster.
Rifle Swapped for CameraAfter coming back from the army, the future director started studying Fine Arts at New York University with Martin Scorsese as his mentor. In 1971 he presented his debut 12-minute short film Last Year in Viet Nam, narrated by a soldier who fought in Vietnam.
This was the beginning of his long journey to fame; he worked as a taxi driver, an assistant at a film studio, a mail peddler, and a teller. During this time he managed to film a low-budget horror movie Seizure (1974). The premiere of his second feature-length horror movie The Hand took place in 1979. The movie tells of an artist who has lost his right hand in a car accident caused by his wife. The lost part of the body starts taking revenge on everyone who has offended its owner.
Neither of the movies was very successful. However, in between the two premieres, Oliver Stone received his first Oscar; not as a director, but as a scriptwriter for Alan Parker’s thriller Midnight Express. The movie tells of the hard life of a US citizen who gets sentenced to unreasonably long imprisonment for a minor offense he commits in Turkey. This movie established the theme for Oliver Stone’s future work - the inner drama of a person whose will and integrity get tested by circumstances.
Oliver Stone quickly took his place in the narrow circle of film-makers who were considered to represent the New Hollywood. In 1982 he wrote the script for John Milius’s Conan the Barbarian thriller. Soon afterward the script for the gangster drama Scarface was created. For the record, this iconic movie - loved by so many - was actually a remake of the 1931 version; however, Stone took a lot of liberty with the original script and completely changed the main character’s personality and outlook.
A year later, Michael Cimino’s criminal drama Year of the Dragon, based on Oliver Stone’s script, was released. Incidentally, in the early ‘80s, Oliver worked on scripts for movies that had little art value and were marked by numerous scenes of violence. Later, he reconsidered his standpoint and filmed a number of political movies: Salvador in 1986, for instance.
Antiwar MoviesThe critics say that Oliver Stone’s movies may well be used to study the modern history of America. For example, the director made antiwar movies, such as Born on the Fourth of July and Platoon with Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Charlie Sheen and Forest Whitaker. Both masterpieces won Oscars. Another antiwar movie by Oliver Stone was Heaven & Earth (1993). He knew firsthand what war was like and impressed millions of viewers by his portrayal of it. Stone himself appeared in the movie in a cameo role as an officer in the bunker.
It was Platoon that made Oliver Stone a household name in America. Furthermore, the movie’s success inspired the director to work on new movies; in the course of the next 10 years he released a new movie each year, and all of them received high acclaim from audiences, especially the stock exchange drama Wall Street (1989) starring Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen.
In 1988 the drama Talk Radio was released, which received the Berlinale award. In the movie, an unbridled radio host unreservedly discusses everything that interests him in front of the mic; however, one day his words prompt one of his listeners to commit murder.
The following year the antimilitary drama Born on the Fourth of July starring Tom Cruise and Willem Dafoe, came out, grossing $161 million (phenomenal for those days) and winning four Golden Globe Awards.
In 1991 the world had a chance to see the musical biography of The Doors band through Oliver Stone’s eyes. Val Kilmer plays the lead singer Jim Morrison.
Next came Stone’s ambitious project JFK, starring Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner, Joe Pesci, and Sissy Spacek. The main storyline is the assassination of the President from attorney Jim Garrison’s point of view. The drama generated considerable debate in American society.
In 1993 the premiere of the military drama Heaven & Earth took place; American and French producers joined efforts in the making of this movie about the Vietnam War, shown from an unusual perspective. The story revolves around the life of a Vietnamese woman over a period of 30 years.
Oliver Stone didn’t get spoiled by his success; he continued surprising his audiences. In 1994 the movie Natural Born Killers was released; the script was written by Oliver Stone and Quentin Tarantino. The storyline of the movie is quite uncomplicated: the Bonny and Clyde of our time – Malory and Mickey (Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis) – travel across the country and kill people in front of TV-cameras, always leaving at least one witness alive.
A year later, Stone turned from making acute social dramas back to politics and made the Nixon movie. Anthony Hopkins plays the infamous President.
In 2003 Stone released the documentary Comandante which describes the situation in Cuba, based on a number of interviews with Fidel Castro.
In 2004 the historical blockbuster Alexander was released - the life story of Alexander the Great, played by Colin Farrell. Unfortunately, the movie turned out to be a box-office flop: it grossed $165 million with a budget of $155 million (not including $40 million spent on promotion). The hints at Alexander’s bisexuality were primarily to blame: in the movie, Alexander shows unambiguous interest in his friend Hephaestion (Jared Leto).
The director also considered it important to describe the events of 9/11: the movie World Trade Centre was created, starring Nicolas Cage and Michael Peña. The main tragedy of the XXI century was shown from the perspective of two policemen, trapped in the rubble of the World Trade Centre.
Oliver Stone went back to his favorite political biographical film genre in 2008. This time his camera focused on George W. Bush, brilliantly played by Josh Brolin.
In 2017 Oliver Stone released a documentary series The Putin Interviews under the slogan Know your enemy. The interviews were filmed over a span of two years. Stone personally interviewed the Russian leader during their meetings in the Kremlin, in Sochi and at the Presidential Residence near Moscow. The director asked Putin questions about the prospects of Russian-US relations, the war in Syria, the conflict with Ukraine, Edward Snowden’s activities, and the dark side of Putin’s own biography.
Oliver Stone’s Personal LifeOliver Stone has been married three times. His first wife was the Lebanese beauty, Najwa Sarkis. The marriage lasted 6 years, from 1971 to 1976.
In 1981 Stone said his vows for the second time. The lucky girl was Elizabeth Cox, the director’s assistant. They had two sons: Sean (born 1984) and Michael (born 1991). As a boy, Sean played in a few of his father’s movies; when he grew up he joined the Russia Today media company. Oliver and Elizabeth divorced in 1993.
At the moment, the director is happily married to Sun-Jung Jung from South Korea. The couple has a daughter, Tara (born 1995), and they currently reside in Los Angeles.
Oliver Stone NowIt is worth mentioning that the movie about Putin didn’t gain Stone's popularity in his own country. The director was accused of aiding the Kremlin and dancing to Russia’s tune. The director stated that he had made the movie in order for Americans to understand their opponent’s point of view and prevent the Russian-American relations from deteriorating in the future.
In 2019, Oliver Stone presented to the world a new work - the film "The Untold History of Ukraine", filmed together with the Ukrainian director Igor Lapotenko. The film shows the development of events in Ukraine after the Orange Revolution and Euromaidan.
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