Oliver Stone Talks 'Border,' Conspiracy and Shia LaBeouf
By Mike Ryan Posted Jun 25th 2010 12:19PM
Shia LaBeouf and the controversial comments LaBeouf made about 'Transformers 2' and 'Indiana Jones 4' at Cannes.
In your opinion, has the U.S. government's attitude toward South America changed since Obama became president?
Well, in relationship to South America, no. It hasn't gotten heavier, too heavy, but there's been no signal beyond the meeting in Trinidad -- which we show in the movie -- of serious pursuit of better relations with those six countries -- absolutely not. Honduras, the coup, the United States did nothing. That was a big thing for these people. Obama may have softer words, but the truth is that we expanded our military bases in Colombia to seven. We expanded the usages of them. Columbia is basically a U.S. military puppet in that region. We have a fleet sailing around South Africa as if it's dangerous; it's one of the quietest areas for us over the last hundred years ... The mad men in our political establishment are talking about Hamas coming to South America [laughs], it's not going to happen. It's really crazy talk. There's been no significant change. On the contrary, it's been a continuation -- call it Bush-light.
Is that why you didn't talk to Colombian president Alvaro Uribe?
Well, you know, it's an hour and twenty minute documentary. And I'm introducing the people that I think the American people don't know. So I just kind of couldn't cover all of the bases. Some people would want me to just stay in Venezuela and just do it about Venezuela, but I was really interested in the big picture. Uribe is a bit like everybody else that existed on our side forever; there's one hundred Uribes out there. He's not going to go down as distinguished in any way in the history books -- except as a collaborator with America. We gave him seven billion f***ing dollars and more people got killed in that country -- next to Guatemala -- than anywhere in South America. So I think it's a joke. I really do. I think it's a joke. I think our war in Colombia is a disaster. It hasn't expanded enormously, but it's a potential disaster -- it's another Vietnam. It's another Nicaragua. It's a continuation of a dumb American policy. A blind, deaf and dumb American policy: Spend more money, war on drugs, control, control, control.
Do you worry at all that people might dismiss this documentary because, 'Oh, It's Oliver Stone. It's the Conspiracy Guy?' Which I don't really understand because, I believe, only one of your films, 'JFK,' had anything to do with a conspiracy.
Right. I don't worry too much about anything [laughs], except my health. You know? [Laughs] I mean, people are going to yap and say all kinds of s***. You know, that's their specialty -- especially those that like to yap. Opinions come a dime a dozen. We did take a solid look around, and I'm not saying this is the be-all end-all, but it's an introduction to a very big historical movement that was completely omitted by the media. [When you look at the history], Castro was the only successful one that lasted. And, of course, he was strangled by an economic embargo. But, still, he lasted. He is a grandfather figure to this group. Not all of them would agree on his methods, no, but at least he was a signifier of independence.
Why did you include Raul Castro in the documentary? He doesn't fit in with the democratically-elected theme...
No, he doesn't. Exactly. He's a signifier for independence and his words are very stirring in the sense that "we will not ever be defeated by this northern monster," basically. I just think that he does mean something. Not so much Raul as Fidel, but Raul is the stand-in for Fidel in the movie. It is a different system, absolutely. It's impossible to have a democracy when you have a 3,000-pound gorilla next door, who's beating on the door, who's saying, "Hey, you have to change and become one of us." It's not that easy to run a so-called democracy where the big boy, the gorilla, has a lot of money to spend and can control elections.
George W. Bush plays a large role in the documentary with a lot of the decisions he made. When you look at the film you made about Bush, 'W.'...
[Laughs] I'm glad you're making the connections, that's good, because some people don't make the connections.
Well, correct me if I'm wrong in reading what you were trying to say in 'W.', but in your film, Bush comes off as a guy that's in way over his head who surrounded himself with people that gave him bad advice. Did your research with 'W.' help you understand what these leaders were trying to tell you about Bush?
Yeah. Well, it's all organic as a dramatist, this kind of situation. I love history. I love world history -- I read as much as I can about these leaders and their decisions. There's a certain pattern over time that you can see. I think in about 20 more years you're going to see repetitions of the same patterns unless we change our ways. Bush is a character. You saw 'W.' Actually, I was in South America the other day and we ran into a bunch of Americans, some preachers. The evangelists like it very much because they respected it. I've heard comments from the Right -- much to the Right -- that were intelligent, saying, "Hey, you got the guy." They know his limitations and they accept them because he chose God. So, they've forgiven a lot. Anyway, ['W.'] was in the middle, it's viewable, it's fun, it's ironic. This movie is different, it's a different purpose; we're trying to hit on something quickly. We know the American resistance to any information on South America is intense. We hit on it quickly and broadly.
It's the worst kept secret that Charlie Sheen makes a cameo in 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.' How important was it for you that Bud Fox be in the film?
Well, I wanted it to happen because it seemed right that they would meet up somewhere in the economic horizon unless one of them had died. It would be a nice little moment and I felt that was always good.
And it makes sense that it's brief, I don't see those two really being friends again after what happened in the first film.
No. Not at all. On the contrary.
When you were in Cannes for 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,' Shia LaBeouf gave an interview where he was highly critical of 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen' and 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.' As a filmmaker, what's your opinion of a star being critical of their film one or two years after it was released?
I feel sorry for Michael Bay. I mean, it's not easy to be criticized. Hammered by actors who took the money. I liked Shia enough to cast him. I liked him in 'Transformers' -- the first more than the second. I didn't like 'Transformers 2' as much. I thought the first was charming and original, really different. The second one had all the flaws of an oversized sequel. It happens all the time. It's amazing the brittle egos of some of the artists. They say things publicly that they should regret. I try to keep my feelings about certain artists, actors, to myself. You know, if you wash your dirty laundry, it comes back, in public. Nobody's perfect, [and] we all have opinions. We all get pissed off and angry, but I try not to be public about it.
I find it interesting that T. Boone Pickens was the inspiration for Gordon Gekko...
Among others, yes.
Just like Gekko, the arc of Pickens' life has changed quite a bit since the '80s. Does this shock you? He's now thought of as the "Wind Energy Guy."
[Laughs] I think it's wonderful. I don't know enough to know if wind can work. I actually sat with him at dinner the other night at the White House Correspondents Dinner; he was at my table with Alan Greenspan. Listen, the energy thing has to be worked out. I think we should get back to a windfall profits tax, and it should be on oil. The BP oil spill goes right to the issue. It's not about $20 billion, it's about a fund of $200 billion from all of the oil companies -- who have made huge profits off of our resources -- and get this into a renewable energy fund. Find new sources of energy that are non-fossil with that money. That's what I would do. That's a bigger plan than wind. I think we have to find another way besides wind.
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