September 15, 1946
Born In: New York City, USA
Career: Film Director, Screenwriter
Oliver Stone, born as William Oliver Stone, is an acclaimed American film director and screenwriter. He is best known for the three films that he based on the Vietnam War - 'Platoon' (1986), 'Born on the Fourth of July' (1989), and 'Heaven & Earth' (1993). He has won three Academy Awards till date, apart from three Golden Globes and one BAFTA award. Stone is noted for his directing style, where he works on different cameras and film formats, from VHS to 8 mm film to 70 mm film. At times, he used several formats in a single scene itself.
Childhood & Early Life
Oliver Stone was born on 15th September 1946, in New York City of the United States. He is the son of Louis Stone, a stockbroker of Jewish origin, and Jacqueline (née Goddet), a Roman Catholic of French birth. He was raised, as an Episcopalian, in the affluent townhouses of Manhattan and Stamford, Connecticut. Initially, Stone attended Trinity School. Later, his parents sent him away to attend The Hill School, an exclusive college-preparatory school in Pottstown, Pennsylvania.
While Stone was still at The Hill School, his parents went through a divorce, the reason being Louis' extramarital affairs with the wives of several family friends. Soon, he started working on a financial exchange in France, a job he got due to his father's influence. While working in France, he spent his summer vacation with his maternal grandparents. It was this job that later inspired him to make 'Wall Street'. Eventually, Stone graduated from The Hill School, in 1964. Thereafter, he was admitted into Yale University.
Being A Teacher
Oliver Stone left Yale after one year only and started teaching English at the Free Pacific Institute, in South Vietnam. After a 6-month stint as a teacher, he joined United States Merchant Marine ship, traveling to Oregon and Mexico, as a wiper. Thereafter, he returned to Yale, but dropped out for the second time. It was while in Yale only that he worked on an early Troma Entertainment production "The Battle of Love's Return", along with his long-time friend Lloyd Kaufman.
Stint With US Army
Oliver Stone joined U.S. Army in April 1967 and served till November 1968. Throughput his 1 year and 8 months stint, he specifically requested combat duty and was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division. While in the army, he got wounded twice in action. During this time, he was awarded the Bronze Star with "V" device for valor for "extraordinary acts of courage under fire" and the Purple Heart with one Oak Leaf Cluster.
Film School (New York University)
After coming back from Vietnam, Oliver Stone enrolled in New York University's Film School, under G.I. bill. There, he was mentored by Director Martin Scorsese, who helped him focus and channel his temper. While still at the film school, Stone made two short films, the first being 'Last Year in Vietnam' and the second titled 'Michael and Marie'. He finally graduated from the Film School in 1971, with a bachelor's degree in fine arts. Thereafter came his time of struggle, when he worked as a cabdriver and a xerox messenger, to support himself.
Director and Screenwriter
It was in the year 1973 that one of Stone's screenplays was bought, by a Canadian production company, for the movie 'Seizure'. Though a writer was hired to rework the script, Stone was asked to direct the film, with a budget of merely $150,000. This is how he made his debut as a director. Still, he was not satisfied and began working at a sports film company. In the meantime, he wrote 14 screenplays, 5 of whom were about Vietnam. It was in 1976 that he wrote the screenplay for 'Platoon', a film that he directed 10 years later.
Stone was signed by Columbia Pictures, to write the screenplay for 'Midnight Express' (1978). Though the movie got mired in controversy, mainly over the script, it received commercial success, bagging five Academy Award nominations and winning one award, given to Stone, for Best Screenplay Adaptation. He was also awarded the Golden Globe and the Writers Guild Award for the same movie. Thereafter he started receiving steady screenplay work till 1981, when he did 'The Hand', a commercial failure which he had directed as well.
In 1982, after completing the second version of the script for 'Conan the Barbarian', Stone went to Paris, to avoid the Hollywood scene for sometime. There, he started working on the screenplay for a remake of the movie 'Scarface' (1983). Following the movie's release, Stone entered a deal with Producer Dino De Laurentiis. As per the deal, he wrote the script for 'The Year of the Dragon' (1985). In return, De Laurentiis promised Stone that he would make 'Platoon'. The movie bombed and, as a result, even 'Platoon' could not be made.
In 1986, Stone's 'Eight Million Ways to Die' also bombed at the box office. The same year, 'Salvador' was released, followed by 'Platoon'. The latter movie, financed through a foreign production company called Hemdale, was a major success, commercial as well as critical. It won him Golden Globe Award, Academy Award and BAFTA Award, for Best Direction. Thereafter, he co-wrote the script for 'Wall Street' (1987), which was commercially applauded, but bombed critically.
Stone's next commercial hit came with 'Born on the Fourth of July' (1989), again disparaged by critics. The movie received 8 Academy award nominations, winning four of them, including the one for Best Direction. The decade of 1990s saw Stone directing 'The Doors' (1991), 'JFK' (1991), 'Heaven & Earth' (1993), 'Natural Born Killers' (1994), 'Nixon' (1995), 'U-Turn' (1997) and 'Any Given Sunday' (1999). These were followed by 'Alexander' (2004), 'World Trade Center' (2006) and 'W.' (2007). Till date, Stone has written or at least taken part in the writing of every film he has directed, except for 'U Turn' (1997).
- Produced a mini series for ABC Television - 'Wild Palms' (1993)
- Did a cameo in 'Dave' (1993)
- Published 'A Child's Night Dream', a largely autobiographical novel (1997)
- Made documentary films - 'Persona Non Grata' (2003), 'Comandante' (2003) and 'Looking for Fidel' (2004)
- Directed a short film about the 2008 Summer Olympics (2008)
- Named the Artistic Director of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts Asia (2008)
1978: Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay (for Midnight Express)
1986: Academy Award for Best Director (for Platoon)
1987: Golden Globe Award for Best Director - Motion Picture (for Platoon)
1987: BAFTA Award for Best Direction (for Platoon)
1989: Academy Award for Best Director (for Born on the Fourth of July)
1990: Golden Globe Award for Best Director - Motion Picture (for Born on the Fourth of July)
1992: Golden Globe Award for Best Director - Motion Picture (for JFK)
1971: Last Year in Viet Nam (short)
1974: Seizure (also known as Queen of Evil)
1979: Mad Man of Martinique (short)
1981: The Hand
1986: Salvador, Platoon
1987: Wall Street
1988: Talk Radio
1989: Born on the Fourth of July
1991: The Doors, JFK
1993: Heaven & Earth
1994: Natural Born Killers
1999: Any Given Sunday
2006: World Trade Center
1978: Midnight Express
1982: Conan the Barbarian
1985: Year of the Dragon
1986: 8 Million Ways to Die