Oliver Stone biography
Oliver Stone was born on September 15, 1946, in New York City. After serving in the Vietnam War, he went to New York University to study film under Martin Scorsese. In 1974, Stone directed his first feature film, Seizure. His 1978 film, Midnight Express, won him an Academy Award for best adapted screenplay. Over the course of his ongoing career, Stone has directed and written numerous award-winning films, including Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July and Natural Born Killers.
William Oliver Stone was born in New York City on September 15, 1946, to Jacqueline Goddet and Louis Stone, a successful Wall Street stockbroker. A child of privilege, he grew up to attend Yale University, but dropped out to join the military. Stone served in Vietnam, where he was exposed to brutal violence and drugs, as well as alternative, counter-culture music like the Doors and Jefferson Airplane. Though Stone was awarded a Bronze Star for Gallantry and a Purple Heart for his war efforts, he was drawn to arts, alternative culture and politics.
After the war, Stone gravitated toward film, writing screenplays and forsaking Yale for New York University, where he studied under director Martin Scorsese. His first project, a short student film, was called Last Year in Viet Nam (1971). He followed that project a low-budget horror film, Seizure (1974), for which Stone also wrote the screenplay. Stone supported himself during this time by working as a New York taxi driver.
The following years saw Oliver Stone work on increasingly important projects, including the screenplay for Midnight Express (1978), directed by Alan Parker, which became a hit and for which Stone won his first Academy Award, for best adapted screenplay. The film earned him a shot at directing a major studio movie, The Hand (1981). The film was a failure, however, causing a temporary career setback for the up-and-coming filmmaker. Stone went on to write screenplays for the popular films Conan the Barbarian (1982) and Scarface (1983).
Stone had breakthrough year in 1986: He directed Salvador, a political drama starring James Woods (later nominated for an Oscar), and the Vietnam War drama Platoon, starring Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe. Platoon became a huge hit—with Berenger and Dafoe receiving Oscar nominations, Stone winning his first Oscar for directing and the film winning for best picture—which lifted Stone's notoriety to the world stage.
Following Platoon was a string of mostly successful, often controversial films: Wall Street (1987), starring Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas (in an Oscar-winning performance); Talk Radio (1988), based on a play and starring Eric Bogosian; and Born on the Fourth of July (1989), which starred superstar Tom Cruise as a challenged war veteran and won Stone a second Oscar for directing.
Adding to his now-legendary status in Hollywood, Stone went on to create several hit films, including The Doors (1991), telling the story of the famed '60s rock band and starring Val Kilmer; JFK (1991), a dramatization of the attempts by Jim Garrison (played by Kevin Costner) to uncover a conspiracy behind the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which earned Stone Oscar nominations for best director and best adapted screenplay; the ultra-violent Natural Born Killers (1994), starring Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis; and Nixon (1995), a controversial study of U.S. President Richard Nixon starring Anthony Hopkins.
In 1999, Stone directed, produced and wrote the screenplay for the football-themed drama Any Given Sunday, featuring an ensemble cast: Al Pacino, Dennis Quaid, Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx and LL Cool J, among others. The filmmaker returned to his political roots for his next project, Comandante (2003), a documentary featuring interviews with Cuban leader Fidel Castro—a notably different style from Stone's previous releases.
Returning to big-budget form, Stone went on to direct the 2004 epic Alexander, exploring the life of King Alexander the Great (Colin Farrell); the film also featured Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer, Rosario Dawson, Anthony Hopkins and Christopher Plummer. Two years later, Stone worked on the disaster drama World Trade Center (2006), based on the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York. The movie was both a critical and commercial success.
In 2008, Stone once again returned to the political genre with W., a biopic of U.S. President George W. Bush (Josh Brolin). South of the Border, a documentary about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and issues affecting Latin America, was released the following year. In 2010, Stone reunited with Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, a sequel to his earlier hit. Stone directed and co-wrote the screenplay for the film, which earned him a Golden Globe nomination.
Stone has been married three times. He wed Najwa Sarkis on May 22, 1971; the couple divorced six years later, in 1977. He married second wife Elizabeth Burkit Cox on June 6, 1981, with whom he has two sons, Sean and Michael; the two parted ways in 1993. On January 16, 1996, Stone wed his third wife, Sun-jung Jung, with whom he has one daughter, Tara.