Oliver Stone Never Sleeps

StoneBeau Willimon in Malibu Magazine:

While winning the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for Midnight Express (1978), it was the critically acclaimed Platoon (1986) that proved to be Stone’s big breakthrough, earning him his second Academy Award, this time for Best Director. He built on Platoon’s success the following year with Wall Street, solidifying his reputation as one of America’s most exciting new directors. Wall Street told the tale of stockbroker Bud Fox’s (Charlie Sheen) rise and fall during the ’80s’ bull market at the hands of uber-tycoon Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas). The film immortalized Gekko’s proclamation that “Greed is good” and has since become a modern classic. That was 23 years and 15 movies ago. So why a sequel now?

I posed that question to one of the film’s producers, Eric Kopeloff, who also worked with Stone on the Bush Jr. biopic W. “I think that the crash of the economy and the aftermath was inspirational in deciding to want to push forward and make a project like this,” said Kopeloff. “It was clear to Oliver and myself that it was an amazing time to actually go and make a film that will mirror what’s going on in the system and help people understand what happened … at the same time make it entertaining and make a Wall Street film that everybody knows and loves.”

The more cynical among movie goers might speculate that Stone and his fellow producers are merely exploiting the recent financial crisis to cash in on a past glory. But Stone wouldn’t characterize the film as a sequel at all. Early on during our interview, he admonished me for calling the movie Wall Street II. “That’s not the title,” he said. “The actual title is Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.” In fact, Stone has quite a track record of revisiting certain subject matters: Vietnam (Platoon, Heaven and Earth, Born on the Fourth of July), U.S. presidents (JFK, Nixon, W.), the media (Talk Radio, Natural Born Killers), Latin America (Salvador, South of the Border, the script for Scarface) and Fidel Castro (Commandante, Looking for Fidel and an upcoming third Castro documentary). One could even cite his period epic Alexander as an example. After the movie’s initial box-office disappointment, Stone re-edited the film before it was released on DVD in 2005. Unsatisfied with his own director’s cut, Stone released yet a third DVD version in 2007 titled Alexander Revisited: The Final Unrated Cut. “It’s three hours and 45 minutes with an intermission. It’s the correct version. It’s the one I should have done, fought for. It’s the whole kit and kaboodle,” said Stone. “I always struggled with that film because we were rushed. But it’s my fault and I accepted it.”