By Chad Greene
“So I’m Gilligan?” Oliver Stone asks, still puzzling over recent White House statements comparing the director of the upcoming presidential biopic W. to the main character of a ’60s sitcom.
Strange statements out of the West Wing aren’t rarities, of course. Especially since the election in 2000 of President George W. Bush, a man so prone to malapropisms that members of the media long ago coined the term “Bushisms” to describe tortured declarations such as “they misunderestimated me.” The quote that has Stone stumped, however, was actually delivered by Assistant Press Secretary Emily Lawrimore: “Oliver Stone is an accurate historian like Gilligan was an accurate navigator.”
“It’s an odd image,” Stone says. “It indicates that somebody in the White House is back in the ’60s. So that’s a strange thought. But I’m not [Gilligan]. I have a good record.”
Indeed. Over the last three decades, Stone has won three Academy Awards for his writing and directing. And, out of his additional eight Oscar nominations, half honored his work on 1991’s JFK and 1995’s Nixon.
With W., however, Stone is focusing for the first time on a sitting president—a polarizing politician whose approval ratings have plummeted from almost 90 percent in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, to less than 30 percent as he approaches the end of his two terms in office. But the point of the picture, Stone insists, is not to take potshots at President Bush. It is to try to understand who Bush is, how he became who he is and what the fact that we elected him—twice—says about the United States of America.
To listen to our exclusive interview with Oliver Stone,