Oliver Stone biography
Date of Birth: September 15, 1946
"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." - Oliver Stone
Given Stone's penchant for politics, it is not surprising that he is one of America's most controversial
His Vietnam pictures forced Americans to deal with the war that they had tried so hard to
forget, and brought about changes in how Americans treat Vietnam veterans.
Born in New York City, Stone grew up nurturing his love of films. Born in a priviliged family, Stone's
father Lou was a successful stockbroker on Wall Street.
When he suffered some financial setbacks due
to bad investments, a bitter divorce to Stone's mother Jacqueline resulted.
As a child, Stone was
raised by a nanny because his mother frequently took vacations to France.
After a year at Yale, Stone dropped out and moved to Vietnam, where he taught English for a year. A
year in Mexico followed, during which he wrote an unpublished novel and got arrested for marijuana
possession. Drugs would continue to plague him, for he was again arrested for possession of hashish,
as well as drunk driving, in June of 1999.
In 1967 Stone, like thousands of other men during that decade, enlisted in the military and went to
Vietnam, where he received the Bronze Star for Valor and the Purple Heart with First Oak Leaf Cluster
during his year of service.
He studied film at N.Y.U. under Martin Scorsese and began his film career as a screenwriter. As a student of Scorsese's, Stone acted as a cinematographer for the film Street Scenes (1970), a collection of student films.
Four years later, he directed, edited and wrote his first feature film, Seizure (1974). The film's
overriding theme of psychological trauma proved to be good preparation for Stone's next project, Midnight Express (1978). The film earned him his first Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
In the early '80s, Stone concentrated on writing and completed a number of scripts including 1982's
Conan the Barbarian, Scarface (1983), and Year of the Dragon (1985).
The year 1986 proved to be the year of Stone's directorial breakthrough, with his internationally
acclaimed Platoon. The film won Stone his first Best Director Oscar, as well as the Best Picture
award, and it redefined the way in which the war was portrayed on film.
Stone's next directorial effort was Salvador (1986), which fully embraced the political tilt at which Platoon had hinted.
The film won widespread praise and Stone followed it up with a similarly
acclaimed effort, Wall Street (1987), a tale of greed, corruption and power.
After completing 1988's Talk Radio, Stone went on to make the second installment of his Vietnam trilogy,
Born on the Fourth of July (1989). The film received a large dose of enthusiastic acclaim and a second
Best Director Oscar for Stone. But it marked the beginning of the criticism that was aimed at the
director for certain aspects of his historic portrayals, including his tendency to make his protagonists
into Christ-like figures.
All hell broke loose with the release of JFK. The film revolved around Jim Garrison, the New Orleans
D.A. who believed there was a conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy and a cover-up that stretched to the
highest levels of government.
The film not only compelled Congress to open previously sealed files on
the shooting, but it rekindled the country's interest in the Kennedy case and the events surrounding
Nevertheless, it secured eight Oscar nominations, including yet another Best Director nod for Stone.
In 1993, Stone completed his Vietnam trilogy with Heaven and Earth. But unlike the earlier installments,
this film, which looked at the war through the eyes of a Vietnamese woman, bombed at the box office.
Stone's next directorial effort, 1994's Natural Born Killers was the story of serial killers.
It was celebrated by those who saw it as a condemnation of the media's glorification of violence and decried
by those who claimed it did little more than glorify the very violence it purported to condemn.
U-Turn (1997) followed antihero Sean Penn's accidental visit to a hick town in Arizona.
The film garnered
little more than lukewarm critical and box office response, and the noirish comedy quickly disappeared.
year also marked the release of Stone's autobiographical novel, A Child's Night Dream.
In 1999, he again took a seat in the director's chair with Any Given Sunday, a sports film that took a look at the politics behind the National Football League.
It received mixed reviews and an average box office take and was mostly noticed for the abundance of male frontal nudity. Stone decided to take time off to make several political documentaries, which went largely unnoticed.
He then returned to feature filmmaking with Alexander, starring Colin Farrell, but the film was panned by critics and shunned by moviegoers, earning back far less than its $150 million budget.
Next, he took on World Trade Center (2006), the true story of two men trapped beneath the rubble at Ground Zero on 9/11, followed by Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010) about corrupted businessman (Michael Douglas) who uses his new son-in-law (Shia LaBeouf) to rebuild his empire.
Stone then directed the 2012 film Savages, featuring an all-star cast including the likes of John Travolta, Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch and Selma Hayek, just to name a few.
Four years later, he returned to the director's chair for the biopic Snowden (2016), which depicts NSA Edward Snowden's historic press leak, and stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Melissa Leo, Shailene Woodley, and Zachary Quinto.
Stone has been married and divorced twice.
His first marriage to Najwa Sarkis lasted six years and
ended in 1977. With his second wife, Elizabeth, he fathered two sons, Sean and Michael. He also has a
daughter, Tara Chong Stone, from his girlfriend Chong Son Chong.
Oliver Stone Filmography