Oliver Stone has more than tackled — he’s practically smothered himself — in controversial politics on film, from directing 1986’s Vietnam classic Platoon to features about presidents (Nixon, JFK, W.) to Wall Street, its sequel, multiple documentaries on Cuba’s Fidel Castro, and beyond. So when Stone told journalists at a small press dinner EW attended on Monday night celebrating next week’s Blu-ray release of his latest film Savages about his upcoming Showtime documentary series Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States, he sounded uncharacteristically nervous.
He’s worked on the ten-episode TV series — which premieres its first episode next Monday, Nov. 12 — since February 2008, for four and a half years.
“You can understand, I’m a little bit on edge,” said Stone. “I’ve delivered seven episodes, but eight’s almost done, and nine and ten are still in the process. When you see one hour, you’ll understand the work that goes into it. It’s like ten movies.”
The episodes delve into what Stone sees an under-reported events throughout the 20th century, from the bombing of Japan during World War II to the fall of Communism. He worked with Peter Kuznick, a history professor at American University.
“It started as an atomic bomb movie, because I was born in that age,” Stone said. “We thought it would make a great film, but it would also make a great documentary. … Because of Bush, it was 2008, and I was so upset with the nightmare our country was going through. I decided to expand it to understand George Bush, and how he could get away with this. As crooked as the 2000 election was, with the 2004 election, ‘How could we vote the guy into office for what he’s done?'”
A passion project, the series was a long, twisty road, diverging him from movies.
“It detoured me from my film career,” Stone acknowledged. “I could have done five movies in those years instead of three. But I’ll be back, I hope.”