Stone, 60, received the Hollywood Film of the Year award from the Hollywood Film Festival, as well as the Freedom of Expression honor from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures for "World Trade Center."
Stone won his first Oscar for the screenplay of the 1978 thriller "Midnight Express" and picked up Oscars for directing the 1986 best picture winner, "Platoon," and for 1989's "Born on the Fourth of July." He also directed Michael Douglas to his best actor Oscar for 1987's "Wall Street," and helmed such controversial films as "JFK," "Nixon" and "Natural Born Killers" and "Alexander.".
Q: You have won three Oscars and countless other awards. What are your feelings about awards and especially the hype during movie awards season?
Oliver Stone: It is like root canal. It's like a medical condition. You go through it. You can't deny it and you can't aggress it. You perform the duty to the film because the film is the effort and we're all behind that. And the more the film is seen, the happier we would all be. It's a slow film to discover because it's grown. It made $70 million in the U.S. and $90 million abroad. Those are big numbers for a film like this that cost in the mid-$60 million to make. It was a successful film, but a lot of people in America didn't see it at the time because it was a tough subject to handle and there is no question that it takes people time.
Q: You usually write your own scripts. What is it like to work on a project you didn't initiate?
OS: I have done it before. "Natural Born Killers" was a script that existed but we changed it completely. This was a script that I loved. It was a very emotionally strong and simple and it was a challenge to me to do that simplicity of a rescue, of a disaster and at the same time, recognize that this had actually happened. This is quite different if it had come to me as a piece of fiction. I don't know [if I would do it]. I think I did it because it was a chance to contribute to this understanding of the event and to build a memorial to those people and to honor the feelings of those who were there that day, and especially the feelings of what they call the first-responders to any situation in an emergency
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Q: Also the heroes of "World Trade Center" are everyday citizens pushed into extraordinary situations.
OS: And behaving as ordinary people would. Except for the first-responders, [everyone else] were essentially in a passive position. It wasn't the typical movie where you have a rescue situation and you help get yourself out or you bite your hand off and manage to be very smart and clever and survive. It doesn't happen that way for the most part. It happens like this. These guys, not only was it hard to find them as you can see in the movie, but hard to get them out. There are two rescues at the end of the movie - each man, a different rescue. To me it was a challenge because it could easily have descended into a cliche. This films is very close to me because it deals with many of the themes I've dealt with in the past, which were essentially trauma, a sense of overwhelming defeat, followed by survival and a return to some sort of - call it heroism - or return to a more enlightened place. I like high challenges, I guess.
Q: Wrll Jimeno and John McLoughlin had amazing fortitude.
OS: The rescuers were crucial to getting them outmbut they also survived because of some internal qualities. I think it's important to remember that the movie focused on that as much as the rescue. These guys are able to communicate with each other barely, but they do and they were lucky enough to have strong family lives. The memory of the wives and the interdependent quality of their families really gave them the hope and internal strength and internal faith.
Q: Were Jimeno and McLoughlin on the set?
OS: At times, yes.
Q: It must have been so hard for them.
OS: It was, but they were both game for it and they helped us enormously. was eager for their co-operation. I wanted to get it right. But at the same time they gave me freedom. I didn't feel imprisoned by being watched.