Tom Sutcliffe talks to screenwriter and film director Oliver Stone about his memoir Chasing the Light
Oliver Stone has written or directed some of cinema's most powerful films - Midnight Express, Platoon, Scarface, Salvador, Natural Born Killers. Now he has written a memoir, Chasing the Light - How I fought my Way into Hollywood From the 1960s to Platoon. Making films, he tells Tom Sutcliffe, is his vocation, but getting them done...that's never come easily.
Feeling betrayed by his parents' divorce Stone dropped out of Yale, he enlisted as a 'grunt' and fought in Vietnam, then was briefly imprisoned for smuggling hash from Mexico. He recalls studying on the film course at New York University - where Martin Scorsese,a tutor, admired his first short. Even so, throughout his career Stone has struggled to finance his projects - he had to flee from Canada with the print of his first feature. Decades later, making Salvador after global success and winning an Oscar, the difficulties were much the same.
Early on Stone worked with Michael Caine and Robert Bolt, gaining insight into acting and writing. While directors such as Jean-Luc Godard improvised, Stone respected the script, yet left room for great actors to work. So Al Pacino 'punched up lines' in Scarface.
Stone talks about his cocaine use - which brought him into contact with dealers and gangsters - so was crucial research. Writing Scarface opened doors - wherever Stone went afterwards, he says, corrupt, powerful men had respect for him. Narco-terrorist Pablo Escobar was a big fan.
These days Stone is making documentaries. He admires the films being made for television - streamers - but regrets the loss of the communal experience of cinema, a couple of thousand people together, responding to the film. There aren't, he laments, any movies anymore.
Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe
Producer: Julian May…read more