This week on The Treatment, Oscar-winning director and screenwriter Oliver Stone sits down with host Elvis Mitchell to discuss his new memoir, ‘Chasing the Light,’ which covers the first 40 years of his life and career as a filmmaker. Stone won a screenwriting Oscar for ‘Midnight Express’ and two as a director of ‘Platoon’ and ‘Born on The Fourth of July.’
Stone tells Mitchell that he had a rather conventional upbringing until his parents divorced when he was a teenager. “It was devastating,” he says, of their separation. “I thought they were in love. I thought we were a happy family. All of a sudden it fell apart in one day.” Stone says his parents’ divorce caused him to question what is the truth and led him on a path to discover it for himself.
That path included enlisting in the army during the Vietnam War. His experience there inspired the film ‘Platoon.’ Stone says, “the Charlie Sheen character, that’s me, more or less. Watching both antagonist and protagonist against each other, the civil war that I saw in every platoon, every combat platoon I was in in Vietnam.” His own experience in Vietnam also led him to help tell veteran Ron Kovic’s story in ‘Born on The Fourth of July.’
While perhaps best known as a director of political dramas such as ‘JFK’ and ‘Nixon,’ one of the projects Stone says he was most excited about as a young screenwriter was ‘Conan The Barbarian.’ Stone wrote the script for the film that ultimately starred Arnold Schwarzenegger. “It could have been the most successful series ever,” Stone says, “like a James Bond series, one adventure after another.” Stone says he wasn’t ready to direct the film himself and his first choice to direct, Ridley Scott, wasn’t available. He laments that the producers “turned it into a cheaper version, a Dino De Laurentis version of a western with fake cactus.”
Stone says a sequel to ‘Chasing the Light’ is in the works.