“I feel like shit.” When an interviewee starts an interview with those words, you know the next hour or so is going to be about as pleasurable as a two-day Kardashians marathon.
Oliver Stone may well have invited us to his house in an idyllic setting at the western end of Sunset Boulevard, but he had a long night the night before and is struggling with a pretty major hangover. He tried playing a bit of table tennis that morning “to get his juices flowing,” but it didn’t help. And then an important letter he’d dictated the day before got lost. But the early signs were deceptive. The director was being too harsh on himself. Which we should have expected.
Not many Hollywood directors have demonstrated as much vitality and overcome as many obstacles in recent decades as the 65-year-old Stone. So it’s only natural that he should seek another pulsating, provocative subject for
his latest movie. Savages tells the tale of two young marijuana growers whose common girlfriend gets kidnapped by a Mexican cartel (headed by Salma Hayek and Benicio del Toro) and the vicious campaign they wage to get her back.
So we can simply ignore Stone when he says in the course of our conversation that his comments may be disjointed and unfocused. This interview is evidence of his clarity -- and it’s almost two hours before he finally asks for an aspirin.
In some of your classic movies -- from Platoon to Wall Street -- the young protagonists were alter egos of the youthful Oliver Stone. Does that also go for the twentysomething dope dealers of Savages?
OLIVER STONE: These characters have nothing to do with me personally. Except at a younger age I could have been a bit like them. I had the violence inside of me, and I like dope -- I mean I liked dope. Of course, as a director I identify with my characters. But this was never my lifestyle. I never did this kind of thing.
So you were never tempted to dabble in the world of crime?
Now that I’m safely ensconced as a dramatist, I guess I can say that when I was a young man I did everything that I could to survive on this and that side of the law. I was in my mid-20s, I was driving a cab and doing all kinds of stuff trying to keep above the water level so I could keep writing two screenplays a year with the hope of breaking through. I’ve forgotten much.
What made you give up dope?
I stopped smoking grass a few years ago. I do it much less -- every once in a while. Because I don’t want to become addicted to anything. I don’t want to be a slave of anything.
Check out the August 2012 issue of Red Bulletin magazine (on newsstands July 10) for more of the article. To read the magazine on your iPad, download the Red Bulletin iPad app.