OLIVER STONE BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY:
Oliver Stone, an American director, screenwriter, and producer, made his mark in the world with his films. His politically and culturally explicit pictures, many times dealing with controversy, have managed to make an impact on American society. Stone’s undying devotion to the craft, no matter the social stigma, has earned him three Oscars and a place in the hearts of filmgoers and critics alike.
He was born September 15, 1946 in New York City as William Oliver Stone. Due to his father’s successful career in stock broking, he lived affluently. With wealth came many privileges: private schooling, summer vacations in France, and a deep sense of patriotism. He first attended Trinity School and then was sent to an exclusive preparatory school in Pennsylvania called The Hill School. While still at The Hill School, Stone’s parents went through a divorce – the cause being his father’s extramarital affairs with several family friends’ wives. In 1965 he enrolled at Yale University, but quit after only one year to teach English in South Vietnam. After six months of teaching, he was done with it and became a wiper on a U.S. merchant ship. He travelled to Oregon for a bit, then Mexico, where he began writing his first novel. Stone decided to return to Yale, dropped out again, and enlisted in the U.S. Army, specifically requesting combat duty in Vietnam.
While there, he discovered he had made a rash and stupid decision. Stone quickly realized that combat was not how he thought it would be. He later made a statement to the Washington Post, saying that “Vietnam completely deadened me and sickened me.” While there, he was wounded a couple times, but also gained mental scars from the horrid treatment of Vietnamese citizens by U.S. soldiers. When he finally came home fifteen months later, he brought two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star with him. However, the experience had had a great impact on him, and he was in a bad place. Very confused and rueful for the things he had done, Stone went to Mexico for a release. Upon his return to the states, he was found with a couple of ounces of marijuana on him and thrown in jail. He called his father for bail, and recognized that he needed to turn his life around.
Stone moved to New York and used the GI Bill to attend film school at New York University. One of his teachers, director Martin Scorsese, helped him channel his anger and resentment. He used his war experiences to help him in his student films like “Last Year in Viet Nam” (1971). After graduating from NYU in 1971 with a bachelor’s in fine art, Stone let out more of his rage by writing numerous more screenplays. He produced one film, “Sugar Cookies” (1973), before one of his screenplays, “Seizure” (1974), was bought by a Canadian production company. Although a writer was hired to revise the script, “Seizure” became Stone’s first directorial feature. Following its release, he moved to Los Angeles to find a career in writing. Soon after, the writer got a crack at writing his first studio feature, Columbia Pictures’ “Midnight Express” (1978). Stone’s riveting screenplay about the real life imprisonment of Bill Hayes in a Turkish jail earned the film five Oscar nominations, including a win for Best Writing. The controversy surrounding the picture’s subject, a prison inmate, gained exposure for the film, as well as success. Following “Midnight Express”, Stone started to acquire a steady stream of work in Hollywood.
His next film, “The Hand” (1981), was a horrific thriller about a comic strip writer who loses his hand in a car accident, only to have the lost appendage follow him around in a rage. While the picture lost money at the box office, critics gave it good reviews. Over the next few years, he did more writing on works like the fantasy “Conan the Barbarian” (1982), crime drama “Scarface” (1983), and action flick “Year of the Dragon” (1985). In 1986 he returned to producing and directing with “Salvador”, a jarring look at a conceited alcoholic photojournalist’s path to self discovery when he documents the war in Central America. Stone revisited the trauma of the Vietnam War in his subsequent feature, “Platoon” (1986), for which he won an Academy Award for Best Director. The script itself was based off of the incidents he had had in the war, making the public debate about the film’s political significance. It also made critics happy, however, as it won the Best Picture Oscar. Stone used his personal experience yet again in “Wall Street” (1987), a morality tale about a ruthless stockbroker who prospers under the advisory of a millionaire at the expense of his father. In 1988 he adapted Eric Bogosian’s play to film with the unmemorable “Talk Radio”, followed by the release of “Born of the Fourth of July” in 1989. The latter, another Vietnam War picture, starred Tom Cruise as a veteran turned handicap, in which his performance earned him an Academy Award nomination. Even more impressive, Stone himself was given an Oscar for Best Director and nod for Best Writing.
Soon after, the director did his most controversial yet, “JFK” (1991), a film about the cover up of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. He went back to the 1960's with his next movie, “The Doors” (1991), a psychedelic account of the rise and fall of the famous rock band, with Val Kilmer playing the lead singer/songwriter Jim Morrison. Stone turned again to the Vietnam War with 1993’s “Heaven and Earth” (1993), but this time with a Vietnamese woman’s perspective. The disturbing “Natural Born Killers” (1994) came next, a film about two lovers, Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis, who become serial killers hyped by the media. Meant to poke fun at tabloids and the justice system, it became notorious for its casual handling of violence. Stone then cast Anthony Hopkins as the lead role in “Nixon” (1995), a universally enjoyed political film that flourished at the box office and earned several Academy Award nominations. After taking a break from directing to write the screenplay for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Evita” (1996), starring Madonna and Antonio Banderas, he did the Sean Penn, Jennifer Lopez crime drama “U-Turn” (1997).
Two years later, Stone was once again found to be in possession of a controlled substance, this time hashish. He was convicted on a diverted felony, and ordered to attend a counseling session every week. In the meantime, he visited a favorite motif, violence, in the football drama “Any Given Sunday” (1999). His next film was a documentary in which Stone met with the Cuban leader Fidel Castro, titled “Comandante” (2003). They talked about topics such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, the U.S. embargo on Cuba, as well as more casual matters. Stone returned to the big screen the year following with his epic debut, “Alexander” (2004), an unsuccessful tale of Alexander the Great. While it failed, it featured an all star cast of Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, Rosario Dawson, and Val Kilmer. After, Stone worked on a 9/11 drama called “World Trade Center” (2006), which received respectable reviews and set the director back on track. Following a short break, he put out the George W. Bush biopic “W.” (2008). His intent was to make a politically unbiased film while documenting how the president went from “an alcoholic bum to the most powerful figure in the world”, but it still brought outrage to Bush supporters and put smiles on the faces of his detractors.
2009 saw “South of the Border”, a documentary which showed a positive side to South American governments, especially that of Venezuelan Hugo Chavez’s. The next year he added a sequel to a 1987 film he did, called “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” (2010). Just like the first installment, it followed money hungry businessman Gordon Gekko, fresh out of prison, who is willing to do anything to get to the top. Stone’s final project, “Savages” (2012), is a crime thriller that follows two pot growers who are faced against the Mexican cartel after their shared girlfriend is kidnapped.
So far, the director, writer, and producer is a three time Oscar winner, with over thirty more wins and anther thirty something nominations. While putting out films which earn mixed reviews, he has remained a top Hollywood name. For his great achievements in the film industry, he has not one, but two stars on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame. As well, Entertainment Weekly named him the 43rd Greatest Director of all time. Even more impressive, he has always stayed true to his own personal vision on how movies should be made. Throughout his career he has earned tons of negative reactions, but he continues to make movies that he believes in. He acknowledges these negative attitudes and responds in a positive way, stating: “They say I'm unsubtle. But we need above all, a theatre that wakes us up: nerves and heart.”
2010 Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
2009 South of the Border
2006 World Trade Center
2005 El protector
2004 America Undercover
2001 The Day Reagan Was Shot
2000 Troma's Edge TV
1999 Any Given Sunday
1999 The Corruptor
1998 The Last Days of Kennedy and King
1997 Cold Around the Heart
1997 U Turn
1996 Killer: A Journal of Murder
1996 The People vs. Larry Flynt
1995 Indictment: The McMartin Trial
1994 Natural Born Killers
1994 The New Age
1993 The Joy Luck Club
1993 Wild Palms
1993 Heaven & Earth
1992 South Central
1991 Iron Maze
1991 The Doors
1990 Reversal of Fortune
1989 Blue Steel
1989 Born on the Fourth of July
1988 Talk Radio
1987 Wall Street
1986 8 Million Ways to Die
1985 Year of the Dragon
1982 Conan the Barbarian
1981 The Hand
1979 Mad Man of Martinique
1978 Midnight Express
1973 Sugar Cookies
1971 Last Year in Vietnam
1971 The Battle of Love's Return
1970 Street Scenes