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Director – Oliver Stone

All in a Name

As his long-awaited sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps finally makes it to cinemas, Oliver Stone tells us why his reputation as a controversial filmmaker is now as much a hindrance as a help…

Cannes, 2010. When he arrives in a small wooden cabana at the luxurious Hôtel du Cap, Oliver Stone is “still digesting” the reaction to the world premiere of his latest film, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, the long-awaited sequel to the 1987 original, signalling the return of Michael Douglas’ slimy corporate bullyboy Gordon Gekko. Its unveiling remarkably marks the first time Stone has been “officially invited” to the Cannes Film Festival in a career that spans over 30 years, 18 features and 3 Oscars. “The reception was positive,” smiles Stone, “so what can I say?”

This being Stone, a perfectionist by nature, he’s open to subtle changes even at this point—particularly to the end. “I love the ending but who knows? I might want to test it. I could put two versions in the theatre for an American audience and then test them. Maybe that’s the smart thing to do. I don’t know. We have time.” Indeed, when we meet, the original release date of April 2010 has been pushed back to accommodate Cannes, with the film now going on general release in the autumn. “It’s a luxury,” admits Stone, “and it’s the first time I’ve had that luxury, to have a delayed release. I’m always rushing to make release, it seems.”

He may be thinking of his last film, W, which was rush-released two years ago to open alongside the final days in office of its subject, President George W Bush. Or perhaps World Trade Center, his true tale of two New York firemen in the Twin Towers wreckage, that was released to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. Indeed, for a director who began his career with films largely set in the ’60s and ’70s (The Doors, Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July and Nixon among others), his recent work has been far more topical, ripped from today’s headlines.

Hence the breakneck production of Money Never Sleeps, which, set in 2008, with the world on the brink of recession, could hardly afford to be slow-moving or else risk the story becoming old news. Written by Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff, and revised by Stone, the film was shot in New York in September and October of 2009 on a budget of $65m. Stone and his crew “didn’t take it easy, by any means”, he says. Using just a tiny soundstage to shoot some interior scenes, they covered 45 locations in 57 days— the same amount of time that the original was made in.

Stone admits his memories of the first Wall Street are still vivid. “It was the first studio film I did. I was coming out of the jungle. I’d done Platoon and Salvador backto- back, in very rough locations, very low budget. And I had sort of arrived. I had got the Oscar [Best Director, for Platoon]. And I could’ve picked anything I wanted. And it’s ironic that I chose to do a financial movie, because they are hard to do. I knew they weren’t going to ever say ‘yes’ to that kind of movie, because it didn’t have guns in it or action—though there was a lot of machine-gun dialogue!
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