Director of Platoon
“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.” Oliver Stone
Academy Award winning director, screenwriter and producer Oliver Stone won his first Oscar for writing the feature film adaptation of Billy Hayes' “Midnight Express” (1978), from which he also took home a Golden Globe Award and a Writers Guild of America Award. Making his directorial debut in 1974 with “Seizure,” the New York native did not gain early notice as a filmmaker until he directed and co-wrote the critically acclaimed movie “Salvador” (1986), which brought him an Oscar nomination for his writing effort. His career blossomed with the hit Vietnam War movie “Platoon” (also 1986), which he wrote and directed. He amassed many awards and nominations for the film, including his second Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, two Independent Spirit Awards, a BAFTA Award and a Directors Guild of America Award. Stone won his third Oscar for directing the successful movie “Born on the Fourth of July” (1989), which starred Tom Cruise. He also picked up two Golden Globe Awards and a Directors Guild of America Award for his work on the film. Stone's subsequent directing credits include the controversial biopic “JFK“ (1991), “Heaven & Earth” (1993), “Natural Born Killers” (1994), “Nixon” (1995), “Any Given Sunday” (1999), “Comandante” (2003), “World Trade Center” (2006), “W.” (2008), “South of the Border” (2009) and “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” (2010). Despite mainstream success he earned in the late 1980s and early 1990s with a series of war films, the Yale dropout had a major flop with the 2004 epic “Alexander,” which earned him two Razzie nominations. He previously received Razzie nominations for Worst Screenplay and Worst Director for “Year of the Dragon” (1985) and “U Turn” (1997), respectively.
In the film industry since 1971, Stone was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in March 1996 thanks to his contribution to motion pictures. Two years later, he was handed a Crystal Iris from the Brussels International Film Festival. He was also awarded the International Filmmaker Award at the 2002 Palm Springs International Film Festival, an Honorary Award of the Festival at the 2003 Marrakech International Film Festival, a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2004 Stockholm Film Festival, a Special Award at the 2004 Camerimage and a Golden Kinnaree Career Achievement Award at the 2004 Bangkok International Film Festival. He was also the recipient of the Hollywood Film Award for Director of the Year at the 2006 Hollywood Film Festival and the Golden Eye for Lifetime Achievement at the 2007 Zurich Film Festival.
Stone has been married three times. He is the father of three children (two sons and one daughter).
Childhood and Family:
Oliver Stone was born William Oliver Stone on September 15, 1946, in New York, New York, to a Jewish American father, Louis Stone (a stockbroker during the Great Depression) and a French Catholic mother, Jacqueline Stone. They met during WW II in France where his father was an aide to General Dwight D. Eisenhower. An only child, Oliver was raised wealthy and lived in townhouses in Manhattan and Stamford. He was educated at Trinity School before his parents sent him away to The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. When he was 15, his parents divorced because of his father's extramarital affairs. Oliver graduated from The Hill School three years later and went on to attend Yale University. However, he dropped in a year and headed to Saigon, Vietnam, to teach English. He next worked on a U.S. Merchant Marine ship and traveled. It was in Guadalajara that he began writing an unpublished biographical novel based on his relationship with his mother. Oliver later joined the U.S. Army to fight in Vietnam where he served from April 1967 to November 1968 and was honorably discharged with two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for Valor. After leaving the military, he was arrested for marijuana and jailed in San Diego, but his case was later dismissed. He then moved to New York and attended film school at New York University on the GI Bill. He received his BFA degree in 1971. While at NYU, he supported himself working as a cab driver and messenger.
On May 22, 1971, Oliver married Najwa Sarkis, a Lebanese woman several years his senior, but they divorced in 1977. He married Elizabeth Stone on June 6, 1981, and they had two sons, Sean Stone (born in 1984) and Michael Stone (born in 1991), before divorcing in 1993. He married Sun-jung Jung in 1996. The couple welcomed a daughter named Tara Stone on November 3, 1995.
Born on the Fourth of July
While studying filmmaking under Martin Scorsese at New York University, Oliver Stone took part in Scorsese's documentary compilation “Street Scenes” (1970), where he provided cinematography. The following year, Stone directed the short student film “Last Year in Viet Nam.” By 1974, he had made his feature film directing debut with “Seizure,” which he also co-wrote with Edward Mann. The horror film starred Jonathan Frid, Martine Beswick and Hervé Villechaize.
Stone, however, did not enjoy success until he provided the screenplay for the Alan Parker biographical film “Midnight Express” (1978), based on the book of the same name by Billy Hayes. About a young American sent to a Turkish prison for trying to smuggle hashish out of Turkey, the film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won for Best Music, Original Score, and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. His writing also earned a Golden Globe for Best Screenplay - Motion Picture and a Writers Guild of America for Best Drama Adapted from Another Medium.
After directing the 17 minute length film “Mad Man of Martinique” (1979), Stone wrote and directed the psychological horror film “The Hand” (1981), which was adapted from Marc Brandell's novel “The Lizard's Tail,” and a remake of the 1946 horror film “The Beast with Five Fingers,” directed by Robert Florey. The film starred Michael Caine and Andrea Marcovicci. Stone, who made his motion picture acting debut in the 1971 comedy film “The Battle of Love's Return,” which was directed, written and starred in by his childhood friend Lloyd Kaufman, made his return in front of the cameras as an actor with “The Hand.” He continued to write screenplays for the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle “Conan the Barbarian” (1982, directed by John Milius), “Scarface” (1983, directed by Brian De Palma and starred Al Pacino) and “Year of the Dragon” (1985, directed by Michael Cimino and starred Mickey Rourke).
In 1986, Stone returned to the director's chair to direct James Woods, Jim Belushi, Michael Murphy, John Savage, Elpidia Carrillo and Cindy Gibb in the critically acclaimed war movie “Salvador,” which he also wrote and produced. About an American journalist in El Salvador, the film was nominated for Oscars for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Woods) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, which Stone shared with writing partner Rick Boyle. Stone also picked up a Kansas City Film Critics Circle for Best Director, Independent Spirit nominations for Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Picture, and a WGA nomination for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen for his work on the film.
“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.” Oliver Stone
Stone gained even more recognition with “Platoon” (also 1986). Based on Stone's experiences as a U.S. infantryman in Vietnam, the film, which Stone wrote and directed, was a success with audiences and critics. It collected 4 Oscars and Stone was handed an Academy Award for Best Director and many additional impressive awards and nominations. The cast of the film included Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Forest Whitaker, Francesco Quinn, John C. McGinley, Richard Edson and Kevin Dillon.
In between “Salvador” and “Platoon,” Stone co-wrote the screenplay of the action film “8 Million Ways to Die” (1986), based on the popular Matthew Scudder detective stories. The film was directed by Hal Ashby and starred Jeff Bridges and Rosanna Arquette. After “Platoon,” he directed and co-wrote the highly praised drama “Wall Street” (1987), which starred Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen and Daryl Hannah. Made as a tribute to Stone's father, the film told the story of a young stockbroker (played by Sheen) and his merciless mentor (played by Douglas). Under his direction, Douglas won an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. In 1988, Stone directed Eric Bogosian, Ellen Greene and Leslie Hope in the drama “Talk Radio,” about a controversial shock jock. He was nominated for a Golden Berlin Bear at the 1989 Berlin International Film Festival and an Independent Spirit Award for his work on the film.
Stone closed out the 1980s directing and co-scripting the successful “Born on the Fourth of July,” an adaptation of a best selling autobiography of the same title by Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic. The movie was nominated for eight Academy Awards and given Oscars for Best Director and Best Film Editing. It also won Golden Globes for Best Director - Motion Picture, Best Motion Picture - Drama, Best Screenplay - Motion Picture, and Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama (for Tom Cruise). In addition to Oscar and Golden Globes, the film brought Stone additional awards and nominations and grossed over $70 million domestically and over $161 million worldwide, well above its $14 million budget. Stone also produced the film as well as the 1989 Kathryn Bigelow action thriller “Blue Still” and the 1990 drama “Reversal of Fortune,” which was directed by Barbet Schroeder and starred Jeremy Irons as Claus von Bülow.
In 1991, Stone directed and co-wrote “The Doors,” a biopic about the 1960s-1970s rock group of the same name that focused on the life of its lead vocalist Jim Morrison (portrayed by Val Kilmer). He received a Golden St. George nomination at the 1991 Moscow International Film Festival for the film. Later that same year, Stone directed Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Oldman, Laurie Metcalf, Joe Pesci, Kevin Bacon, John Candy, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in the controversial film “JFK,” which was adapted by Stone and Zachary Sklar from the books “On the Trail of the Assassins” by Jim Garrison and “Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy” by Jim Marrs. The film, which studied the events leading to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the alleged cover-up through the eyes of district attorney Jim Garrison, was considered a box office hit with over $205 million worldwide against its $40 million budget. “JFK” brought Stone Oscars nominations for Best Director, Best Picture and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. He also received a Golden Globe for Best Director - Motion Picture plus additional awards and nominations.
After producing the films “Iron Maze” (1991), a thriller directed by Hiroaki Yoshida, “Zebrahead” (1992, written and directed by Anthony Drazan), “South Central” (1992, written and directed by Stephen Milburn Anderson), “The Joy Luck Club” (1993, directed by Wayne Wang) and the Emmy nominated TV miniseries “Wild Palms” (1993), which marked his first venture into the small screen, Stone wrote and directed “Heaven & Earth” (1993), adapted from the books “When Heaven and Earth Changed Places” and “Child of War, Woman of Peace” by Le Ly Hayslip. The film starred Tommy Lee Jones, Joan Chen and Haing S. Ngor. Stone next directed and co-scripted the crime film “Natural Born Killers” (1994), from which he netted a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director - Motion Picture and a Special Jury Prize at the 1994 Venice Film Festival. He then directed Anthony Hopkins in the biographical film “Nixon” (1995), which he also produced and wrote. The latter film earned Stone an Oscar nomination for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, which he shared with Stephen J. Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson, and a Chicago Film Critics Association Award in the category of Best Director. 1995 also saw him executive produce the HBO film “Indictment: The McMartin Trial,” which starred James Woods. He jointly picked up a 1995 Emmy in the category of Outstanding Made for Television Movie for the film.
1996 found Stone co-scripting the box office hit “Evita” (1996), a big screen adaptation of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical based on the life of Eva Perón. He then produced the films “Freeway,” “Killer: A Journal of Murder” and “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” which was directed by Milos Foreman and garnered Stone a Freedom of Expression Award at the 1996 National Board of Review Awards. He went on to lend his producing talents to John Ridley's “Cold Around the Heart” (1997), Predrag Antonijevic's “Savior” (1998), “The Last Days of Kennedy and King” (1998), from which he won a Best Documentary award at the 1998 Hermosa Beach Film Festival, and James Foley's “The Corruptor” (1999). He returned to the director's chair to helm Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Lopez, Joaquin Phoenix and Powers Boothe in the 1997 drama “U Turn,” based on the book “Stray Dogs” by John Ridley, and the drama “Any Given Sunday” (1999). The latter movie, which he also scripted and executive produced, grossed over $100 million at the box office and earned him a 2000 Golden Berlin Bear nomination.
In 2001, Stone executive produced the Showtime film “The Day Reagan Was Shot,” which was written and directed by Cyrus Nowrasteh and starred Richard Dreyfuss as Alexander Haig and Richard Crenna as Ronald Reagan. Two years later, he directed and produced the documentary “Comandante,” about Cuban Communist leader Fidel Castro who was a personal friend of Stone. The same year, Stone made his television directing debut with the episode “Persona Non Grata” of the Emmy Award nominated documentary series “America Undercover.” He went on to helm 2004’s “Looking for Fidel,” a follow up to “Comandante.”
Back to the big screen, Stone directed, produced and scripted the epic movie “Alexander” (2004), based on the life of Alexander the Great. Starring Colin Farrell, the film was panned by critics and performed poorly at the box office. It was nominated for six Razzie Awards, including Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay and Worst Actor. With a budget of $155 million, the film grossed only $34 million in the domestic market. It fared better on the international market where it collected $132 million.
In 2006, Stone directed “World Trade Center.” Written by Andrea Berloff and starring Nicolas Cage as John McLoughlin and Michael Peña as Will Jimeno, the film won Stone a Hollywood Movie of the Year at the 2006 Hollywood Film Festival. He next directed and produced the controversial biographical film “W” (2008), based on the life and presidency of George W. Bush (portrayed by Josh Brolin). The film earned mixed reviews from critics.
In 2009, Stone produced and directed “South of the Border,” a documentary about Hugo Chavez. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival on September 7, 2009, and will be released theatrically in the U.S. on June 25, 2010.
Stone's new film, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” which he directed and produced, is set to be released theatrically on September 24, 2010. It is a sequel to his 1987 Oscar winning film “Wall Street.” Michael Douglas will reprise his role of Gordon Gekko in the film. The cast also includes Shia LaBeouf, Josh Brolin, Carey Mulligan, Eli Wallach, Susan Sarandon, Vanessa Ferlito and Frank Langella.
Zurich Film Festival: Golden Eye for Lifetime Achievement, 2007
Hollywood Film Festival: Hollywood Film Award, Director of the Year, 2006
Hollywood Film Festival: Hollywood Movie of the Year, “World Trade Center,” 2006
Bangkok International Film Festival: Golden Kinnaree Career Achievement Award, 2004
Camerimage: Special Award, 2004
Stockholm Film Festival: Lifetime Achievement Award, 2004
Marrakech International Film Festival: Honorary Award of the Festival, 2003
Palm Springs International Film Festival: International Filmmaker Award, 2002
Empire: Movie Masterpiece Award, “JFK,” 2000
Brussels International Film Festival: Crystal Iris, 1998
Hermosa Beach Film Festival: Best Documentary, “The Last Days of Kennedy and King,” 1998
Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA): Best Director, “Nixon,” 1996
National Board of Review: Freedom of Expression Award, “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” 1996
Emmy: Outstanding Made for Television Movie, “Indictment: The McMartin Trial,” 1995
Venice Film Festival: Special Jury Prize, “Natural Born Killers,” 1994
Blue Ribbon: Best Foreign Film, “JFK,” 1993
Kinema Junpo: Readers' Choice Award, Best Foreign Language Film, “JFK,” 1993
Mainichi Film Concours: Best Foreign Language Film, “JFK,” 1993
Mainichi Film Concours: Readers' Choice Award, Best Foreign Language Film, “JFK,” 1993
Golden Globe: Best Director - Motion Picture, “JFK,” 1992
ShoWest Convention: Special Award, Meritorious Achievement, 1992
Academy Award: Best Director, “Born on the Fourth of July,” 1990
Berlin International Film Festival: Honorary Golden Berlin Bear, 1990
Directors Guild of America (DGA): Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, “Born on the Fourth of July,” 1990
Golden Globe: Best Director - Motion Picture, “Born on the Fourth of July,” 1990
Golden Globe: Best Screenplay - Motion Picture, “Born on the Fourth of July,” 1990
BAFTA: Best Direction, “Platoon,” 1988
Academy Award: Best Director, “Platoon,” 1987
Berlin International Film Festival: Silver Berlin Bear, Best Director, “Platoon,” 1987
Boston Society of Film Critics (BSFC): Best Director, “Platoon,” 1987
Directors Guild of America (DGA): Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, “Platoon,” 1987
Golden Globe: Best Director - Motion Picture, “Platoon,” 1987
Independent Spirit: Best Director, “Platoon,” 1987
Independent Spirit: Best Screenplay, “Platoon,” 1987
Kansas City Film Critics Circle (KCFCC): Best Director, “Platoon,” 1987
Kansas City Film Critics Circle (KCFCC): Best Director, “Salvador,” 1987
Academy Award: Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, “Midnight Express,” 1979
Golden Globe: Best Screenplay - Motion Picture, “Midnight Express,” 1979
Writers Guild of America (WGA Award): Best Drama Adapted from Another Medium, “Midnight Express,” 1979