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Oliver Stone

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Also Known As: Minh Duc, William Oliver Stone Died:
Born: September 15, 1946 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: director, producer, screenwriter, cab driver, teacher (Free Pacific Institute, Vietnam)

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

ial, almost Shakespearean study of the 37th President of the United States with "Nixon" (1995). Clocking in at over three hours, and filled with his now-typical visual gimmicks ¿ documentary-like flashbacks, black-and-white footage, varying film stock, sharp angles and rapid back-and-forth editing ¿ "Nixon" attempted to capture the emotional essence of a man who never revealed himself in public, despite having left his claw marks on American history. Though Stone succeeded in portraying Richard Nixon (Anthony Hopkins) as a tragic character rather than a one-dimensional villain, he ultimately failed in truly humanizing him ¿ perhaps a measure of the man himself. Nonetheless, some critics hailed "Nixon" as a masterpiece, while most reviewers agreed that Stone elicited strong performances from the top-shelf ensemble cast, which included an Oscar-nominated Joan Allen as Pat Nixon, James Woods as H.R. Haldeman, and Paul Sorvino as Henry Kissinger. After taking a break from directing to write a draft of "Evita" (1996), Stone tackled film noir for his next feature, "U-Turn" (1997), a crime thriller about a two-bit criminal (Sean Penn) whose car breaks down in a desolate Arizona town and quickly becomes...

ial, almost Shakespearean study of the 37th President of the United States with "Nixon" (1995). Clocking in at over three hours, and filled with his now-typical visual gimmicks ¿ documentary-like flashbacks, black-and-white footage, varying film stock, sharp angles and rapid back-and-forth editing ¿ "Nixon" attempted to capture the emotional essence of a man who never revealed himself in public, despite having left his claw marks on American history. Though Stone succeeded in portraying Richard Nixon (Anthony Hopkins) as a tragic character rather than a one-dimensional villain, he ultimately failed in truly humanizing him ¿ perhaps a measure of the man himself. Nonetheless, some critics hailed "Nixon" as a masterpiece, while most reviewers agreed that Stone elicited strong performances from the top-shelf ensemble cast, which included an Oscar-nominated Joan Allen as Pat Nixon, James Woods as H.R. Haldeman, and Paul Sorvino as Henry Kissinger. After taking a break from directing to write a draft of "Evita" (1996), Stone tackled film noir for his next feature, "U-Turn" (1997), a crime thriller about a two-bit criminal (Sean Penn) whose car breaks down in a desolate Arizona town and quickly becomes embroiled with a seductive femme-fatale (Jennifer Lopez), only to discover that her businessman husband (Nick Nolte) wants her dead. Despite a strong cast delivering good performances, "U-Turn" was largely disregarded by fans and critics alike.

In June 1999, Stone was arrested after being pulled over for driving too slow and was charged with DUI and possession of a controlled substance, which was later revealed to be hashish. Stone was convicted on a diverted felony and compelled to attend counseling once a week. Meanwhile, he delivered his next film, "Any Given Sunday" (1999), a dizzying look at the modern state of professional football, which had become dominated by big money and the star-making potential of television over the concerns of personal ethics and the health of the players. Stone focused on the fictional Miami Sharks, a former championship team whose ragged coach (Al Pacino) routinely butts heads with the team's new owner (Cameron Diaz) and new hot-shot quarterback (Jamie Foxx). Though a solid box office performer, "Any Given Sunday" failed to impress the majority of critics, many of whom were not impressed with Stone's unnecessary use of spiraling camera techniques designed to bring audiences closer to the on-the-field action. If anything, the looping camera movies served only to underscore the film's artifice.

Turning to documentaries, Stone traveled to Cuba in 2002 and spent three days in rare interviews with Fidel Castro, who discussed on camera his thoughts and feelings on a multitude of topics, including the Cuban Missile Crisis, the continuing U.S. embargo on Cuba, Che Guevera, and movies. The result was "Comandante" (2003), a 93-minute documentary highlighting Stone's conversations with Castro. After showing at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, HBO purchased the rights to air the film. But the film was shelved after an incident involving a group of armed men attempting to hijack a Cuban ferry bound for the United States that ended in their deaths. Stone returned the following year to film footage for what became "Looking For Fidel" (HBO, 2004), a more politically-balanced look that gave voice to Castro's political enemies, while highlighting the leader's crackdown on dissidents and the botched hijacking of the Cuban ferry. Then after five years without a theatrical offering, Stone returned to the big screen with his first epic, "Alexander" (2004), an acid-induced chronicle of Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great (Colin Farrell). Lavish in style, confusing in tone and possessing an overwrought and overlong story, "Alexander" floundered mightily at the box office, taking in less than $35 million. Stone took it from all sides, countering criticism and often vicious scorn with a sharp anger not usually displayed from the thoughtful director. Never before had Stone failed so miserably.

But Stone managed to bounce back ¿ critically at least ¿ with his next project. The sober and heart-wrenching take on the September 11th terrorist attacks, "World Trade Center" (2006) starred Nicolas Cage as Port Authority sergeant John McLoughlin who, along with Officer Will Jimeno (Michael Peña), survived for 24 hours underneath the rubble after the towers collapsed. A true story of courage and survival amidst an act of pure evil, "World Trade Center" found Stone unlikely allies with the conservative scourges who typically blasted his movies ¿ notably "JFK" and "Born on the Fourth of July" ¿ because of the films' conspiratorial bent and political stance. Stone was careful not to delve into politics with "World Trade Center;" not out of self-censorship, but because he wanted to tell the personal stories of the two Port Authority officers who survived a devastating day with hope intact. Not one to stay away from politically-charged films for very long, Stone announced his intention to film "W" (2009), a look into the life and presidency of George W. Bush (Josh Brolin). Stone's goal was to create "a fair, true portrait of the man," while trying to learn how he went from "an alcoholic bum to the most powerful figure in the world." Right off the bat, Stone triggered moral outrage among Bush supporters and drooling glee from his detractors. Ever the showman, Stone promised surprises for both and a final product before the election in November 2008.ylish and possessing a stream-of-consciousness soundtrack, "The Doors" helped initiate a new generation into the band's music, while resurrecting hero-worship for a man whose highly-literate lyrics revealed a soul beset by demons and ravaged by excess. Stone turned a third time to Vietnam with "Heaven and Earth" (1993). Based on two autobiographical books by Le Ly Hayslip, the film told the story of how the war impacted the life of a young Vietnamese woman (Hiep Thi Le) who struggles to survive, but falls in love with an American soldier (Tommy Lee Jones). Some critics saw the film as an atonement for Stone's narrow American male point-of-view expressed in the first two installments of his Vietnam trilogy. Overall, however, "Heaven and Earth" was greeted by mixed reviews and lukewarm box office.

Actively courting controversy once again, Stone directed "Natural Born Killers" (1994), a project that harkened back to his early horror flicks. From the original screenplay by writer-director Quentin Tarantino, "Natural Born Killers" was an overwhelming and hallucinatory satire on the nature of violence, as portrayed by an increasingly participatory media. Mickey and Mallory (Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis respectively), two lovers who travel across the country on a killing spree, suddenly find themselves media darlings while they are hunted down by a corrupt federal agent (Tom Sizemore) and sought for an interview by a tabloid journalist (Robert Downey, Jr.). Taking its inspiration from music videos, commercials and other media, "Natural Born Killers" assaulted the senses with an incessant soundtrack, rapid-fire montages, changing film stocks, animated sequences and sharply observed television parodies. Both audiences and reviewers alike were sharply divided over the film ¿ no surprise at this point when it came to Stone films ¿ either loving it or hating it. Making matters worse was the public flap between Stone and Tarantino; the latter of whom hated the changes the director made to his script. Though always favoring vigorous debate and variety of opinion, Stone was upset Tarantino publicly criticized the film, which he felt jeopardized its performance at the box office. Stone also later revealed that of all the biting criticism over the years, he was only wounded by what was said about "Natural Born Killers."

Once again turning his attention to politics and history, Stone delivered a massive, controvers

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Snowden (2016)
2.
  Savages (2012)
5.
  W. (2008)
7.
  Looking for Fidel (2004) Director
8.
  Alexander (2004) Director
9.
  Comandante (2003) Director
10.
  Any Given Sunday (1999) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Casting By (2013)
5.
 Any Given Sunday (1999) Tug Kowalski--Television Announcer No 1
7.
 Frank Capra's American Dream (1997) Himself
8.
 Last Party, The (1993) Himself
9.
 Dave (1993) Himself
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1965:
Taught English at the Free Pacific Institute in South Vietnam
1967:
Served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam; specifically requested combat duty
:
Received Bronze Star for "extraordinary acts of courage under fire" and the Purple Heart with one Oak Leaf Cluster
1968:
Returned to the U.S. and enrolled in film school at New York University
1970:
Recevied first feature credit, providing photography for documentary compilation "Street Scenes"
1970:
Directed a short student film entitled "Last Year in Vietnam"
1971:
Worked as a NYC cab driver
1974:
Made feature writing and directorial debut, "Seizure"
1978:
Wrote the award-winning screenplay adaptation for "Midnight Express"
1981:
Made feature acting debut as a bum in "The Hand"; also wrote screenplay and directed
1986:
First gained prominence as a filmmaker with the success of "Salvador"; feature debut as producer; also wrote and directed
1986:
Helmed the Academy Award-winning Vietnam film "Platoon"
1987:
Directed and wrote the highly acclaimed "Wall Street," starring Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen
1988:
Directed the drama "Talk Radio" about a controversial 'shock jock'
1989:
Helmed the award-winning "Born on the Fourth of July," based on the life of Vietnam veteran and political activist Ron Kovic, who also co-scripted with Stone
1989:
Formed Ixtlan Productions
1990:
Produced the well-received "Reversal of Fortune," starring Jeremy Irons as Claus von Bülow
1991:
Directed film about the 1960s rock band "The Doors," starring Val Kilmer as lead singer and composer Jim Morrison
1991:
Helmed the controversial drama "JFK"; film examined the events leading up to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and alleged subsequent cover-up through the eyes of former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison
1991:
Made feature debut as executive producer, "Iron Maze"
1992:
Featured as subject of a Showtime TV documentary "Oliver Stone: Inside Out"
1993:
First TV credit as executive producer, "Wild Palms" (ABC)
1993:
Helmed the true story of Le Ly Hayslip, a Vietnamese girl whose life is drastically affected by the war in "Heaven & Earth"
1993:
Executive produced "The Joy Luck Club," based on the novel by Amy Tan
1994:
Directed the satirical film "Natural Born Killers," about serial killers and the media; story by Quentin Tarantino
1995:
Executive produced the HBO film "Indictment: The McMartin Trial"
1995:
Directed and scripted "Nixon," starring Anthony Hopkins as the former U.S. president
1996:
Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (March)
1996:
Produced "The People vs. Larry Flynt"; directed by Milos Foreman
1997:
Directed Sean Penn and Jennifer Lopez in "U-Turn"
1999:
Helmed the football-themed drama "Any Given Sunday"
2001:
Served as executive producer of the Showtime movie "The Day Reagan Was Shot"
2003:
Directed and Produced "Comandante," a documentary on his meeting with Castro
2004:
Helmed the epic "Alexander," staring Colin Farrell in the title role
2004:
Directed the HBO documentary "Looking for Fidel," a follow-up to "Comandante," the 2003 documentary on the Cuban leader
2006:
Helmed "World Trade Center," the true story of two police officers who were trapped in the rubble on Sept. 11, 2001
2008:
Directed the controversial biopic about George W. Bush "W."; also co-wrote and produced
2009:
Directed the documentary feature "South of the Border"
2010:
Directed, produced, wrote, and made a cameo (as an art buyer) in the long-awaited sequel "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps"; Michael Douglas returned to play his Academy Award-winning role as Gordon Gekko
2012:
Directed the ensemble crime drama "Savages," featuring John Travolta and Salma Hayek; also co-wrote screenplay based on a novel by Don Winslow
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

The Hill School: Pottstown , Pennsylvania - 1964
Yale University: New Haven , Connecticut - 1965
New York University: New York , New York - 1971

Notes

Stone was awarded France's Order of Arts and Letters (1992).

Stone was presented with the "Director of the Decade" Award by the Chicago International Film Festival (1992).

In June 1999, Stone was arrested for DWI. When the police stopped him, they reportedly also discovered hashish in the car.

"In 1992, three years after Stone optioned (Le Ly) Hayslip's first book, and after they had spent weeks visiting her mother's house in Ky La, she took Stone to her master, a Buddhist monk in California, who put the lapsed Catholic through a soul cleansing ritual called Quy Y and gave him a Buddhist name, Minh Duc, which, a shock to his foes, means 'virtue and brilliance'.---From "The Road to 'Heaven and Earth'" by Jack Mathews, Los Angeles Times Calendar, December 23, 1993.

Describing his then upcoming project, a $30 million satire entitled "Natural Born Killers", Oliver Stone made the following comparisons:

"It's in the vein of 'Scarface'... because of its large-scale portrait of criminality. It deals with the death penalty and the prison system in passing. It's [also] a slumming road picture in the vein of 'Salvador'. It's violence in the media and the American way of death. It's Peckinpah meets Kubrick, not that I'm that good, but if I was, it would be somewhere in that zone."

---"Stone Giving Berth to Tarantino 'Killers'", Daily Variety, March 19, 1993.

Graham Fuller: You pack it all in there in that closing montage: the Menendez trial, Tonya, Waco, Lorena Bobbitt, O.J. Simpson.

Oliver Stone: Tragedy has become the new soap opera, and it hasn't enhanced our ability to empathize at all. Instead, it's made us callous. The concept of television as gladiator game, as spectacle, has densensitized the audience and made our society 'the Great Yawn,' as Octavio Paz called it. Unsatiated, insensitive to pain, needing more and more, because nothing shocks anymore... "

---From "Oliver Stone's Killer Instinct", an Interview piece by Graham Fuller

"I wanted to have fun," [Stone] said. "And I really wanted to do a combination of a road movie, like "Bonnie and Clyde", and "Easy Rider", and a prison film, like "The Great Escape" and "Papillon".

"It's such an outrageous story," he said. "And in the time between optioning the film and making it, tremendous things have happened on America's landscape." Mr. Stone insisted that some of his other films, such as "Scarface", "J.F.K." and "Platoon", were far more violent than "Natural Born Killers". Those earlier films, he said, were realistic, while his current one is not.

"There's not a gruesome scene in the film," he said, making a point that's highly debatable.

"It's a love-it-or-hate-it movie," he said.

No one is likely to argue with that.

---From "How a Movie Satire Turned Into Reality" by Bernard Weinraub in The New York Times, August 16, 1994.

"I would imagine that if Oliver Stone showed his movie to a thousand people and a thousand people didn't exactly get the point that he was trying to make, he would think he failed. To me the best thing about him is his energy. But his biggest problem is that his obviousness cancels out his energy and his energy pumps up his obviousness. He's Stanley Kramer with style."---Quentin Tarantino's take on Stone, from Premiere, November 1994.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Majwa Sarkis. Married May 22, 1971, divorced 1977.
wife:
Elizabeth Burkit Cox. Production assistant. Married June 6, 1981; filed for divorce August 1993.
companion:
Chong Son Chong. Together from c. 1993; born c. 1959; mother of Stone's daughter Tara.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Louis Stone. Stockbroker. American; Jewish; failed playwright; poet; died in 1986.
mother:
Jacqueline Stone. French; Catholic; WWII war bride; "Heaven and Earth" is dedicated to her; Stone was their only child.
son:
Sean Stone. Born c. 1984; mother Elizabeth Cox Stone; has appeared in "Salvador" (1986), "Wall Street", "Born on the Fourth of July (1989), "JFK" (1991), and "The Doors" (1991).
son:
Michael Stone. Mother Elizabeth Cox Stone; born c. 1991.
daughter:
Tara Chong. Born November 3, 1995; mother Chong Son Chong.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Stone"
"Nixon: An Oliver Stone Film" Cinema Books
"A Child's Night Dreams" St. Martin's Press
"Oliver Stone's USA: Film, History, Controversy" University of Kansas Press
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

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