He’s famous for chronicling historical figures on the big screen, but Oliver Stone’s life — with its stint in Vietnam, acid trips and Yale classes alongside George W Bush — is fascinating enough to warrant its own mega-budget biopic. We phoned the director planning to talk about Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, but found him in typically controversial mood...
Do you still get real-life Wall Street guys coming up to you saying Gordon Gekko is their hero?
I’ve met a lot of those people and a lot of them are good people. It’s fun to say for media reasons that all the crooks went to Wall Street because of my movie but I don’t think they were emulating crooked behaviour — they wanted success. By the way, if I had a little commission or royalties from everyone who made millions of dollars after watching Wall Street (far right) I’d be very rich.
Carey Mulligan and Shia LaBeouf got together on set. Is that good news or bad news as a director?
Well, I think we all saw it happening and it was fine. They were very professional, it was easy to work with and it was stimulating. I enjoyed the whole process and it’s good to see the growth of love in any context.
You’ve made three films about presidents. Are there any other historical figures you’d like to explore?
I’m fascinated by the concept of the United States story and I have been for years. I would like to show the patterns rather than the biography because power in itself doesn’t interest me. Misshapen power tends to be more dramatic like in the Nixon and Bush movies I’ve done. Somehow that’s more fascinating than people that use power well.
Are characters such as Barack Obama and Tony Blair too slick and successful then?
I would not compare Obama with Blair at all. Blair is a different animal completely.
Does he fascinate you, though?
Not as an empathetic figure because I lost interest in him as a human being after he allied with Bush over Iraq and I kind of parodied him a bit in a scene in W because I believe that his Christianity was certainly a part of it. It’s interesting to see the British people take it out on Blair, which I’m very glad about. We never did that with Bush and I wish that he would have faced that same type of obloquy (public criticism).
As a Vietnam veteran, do you think the constant comparisons between that conflict and Afghanistan are fair?
Oh, definitely. (Laughs) I think it’s a fair comparison. I’m shocked that Obama, who is so intelligent, would go out of his way to say that Afghanistan is not at all like Vietnam. I think that’s strikingly ignorant on his part.
Main image: Uli Heckmann/Corbis Outline/Kobal