USA TODAY US Edition

Stone’s hunt for truth con­tin­ues

Film direc­tor says ‘Snow­den’ is ‘an im­por­tant story’

- Brian Truitt @bri­antru­itt Movies · Oliver Stone · Oscar · Central Security Service · Moscow · John F. Kennedy · Richard Nixon · United States of America · Central Intelligence Agency · World Trade Center · World Trade Center · George W. Bush · George H. W. Bush · Chris Kyle · Survivor · Edward Snowden · Platoon · Fourth of July

Oliver Stone’s life’s work has been in pur­suit of the truth, and the Os­car-win­ning direc­tor has a spe­cial re­spect for those who seek it out off screen.

It’s why Stone, who ini­tially said no to di­rect­ing a movie about Ed­ward Snow­den, ul­ti­mately met with the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency whistle­blower nine times in Moscow to cap­ture the needed au­then­tic­ity for his drama Snow

den (in the­aters Fri­day). “Films last when they’re about the truth,” says the iconic and of­ten con­tro­ver­sial film­maker be­hind ac­claimed films such as Pla­toon, Born on the Fourth of July, JFK and Nixon.

Snow­den stars Joseph Gor­donLe­vitt as the for­mer gov­ern­ment con­trac­tor who leaked clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion in­volv­ing U.S. sur­veil­lance pro­grams in 2013 and was charged with es­pi­onage.

The film fol­lows his jour­ney from his mil­i­tary dis­charge (af­ter break­ing both legs in a train­ing ac­ci­dent) to work­ing his way up the CIA ranks and learn­ing about in­ter­nal mea­sures that make him ques­tion whether his coun­try is do­ing the right thing.

Stone, 70, sees Snow­den as a pa­triot and ac­knowl­edges that he, too, is both­ered by both eaves­drop­ping and the global threat of cy­ber­war­fare.

“The United States is do­ing far more than peo­ple know,” Stone says. “They see the sur­face of the news — the Rus­sians are at­tack­ing us, the Chi­nese are hack­ing us — but they never hear we’re hack­ing them first.

“But when you do this kind of warfare, it comes back to haunt you.”

Ear­lier in Stone’s ca­reer, he tack­led his­tor­i­cal top­ics decades re­moved from cur­rent news cy­cles and stayed away from liv­ing peo­ple.

It’s “much safer” that way, he says: The direc­tor had long wanted to do a Richard Nixon movie but had to wait un­til the ex-pres­i­dent died in 1994. “He vowed we’d never make the film when he was alive,” Stone says. The more re­cent World Trade

Cen­ter, Ge­orge W. Bush-cen­tric W. and now Snow­den tap into is­sues and per­son­al­i­ties closer to the present — an un­con­scious de­ci­sion, Stone says. He orig­i­nally turned down Snow­den be­cause he found it such a po­lit­i­cal hot potato.

“You don’t go to things that are bad bets, and this was a bad bet,” says Stone, who found Snow­den “a painfully dif­fi­cult film to make,” mainly be­cause of lack of money. (All the ma­jor stu­dios passed on the pro­ject.)

Still, he adds, “I got sucked in be­cause it is an im­por­tant story. You meet (Snow­den) and you know it, and you pray that noth- ing ’s go­ing to fall on you. Who knows if (we’re) go­ing to be hacked, who knows if the NSA is go­ing to find some­thing out that’s con­crete ev­i­dence? There are a thou­sand is­sues. It was an in­tense ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Stone fig­ures that JFK, his 1991 con­spir­acy thriller, would be im­pos­si­ble to get made to­day.

He laments that movies from the 1970s such as Three Days of

the Con­dor and All the Pres­i­dent’s Men, both of which took on Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal cor­rup­tion, have given way to pro-mil­i­tary projects such as Amer­i­can Sniper and Lone Sur­vivor.

“You can’t even make a movie crit­i­cal of Amer­ica prac­ti­cally, un­less you do it in a very light­hearted way,” Stone says.

“I got sucked in be­cause it is an im­por­tant story. You meet (Snow­den) and you know it, and you pray that noth­ing’s go­ing to fall on you.” Direc­tor Oliver Stone

 ?? ’SNOW­DEN’ STAR JOSEPH GOR­DON-LEVITT AND OLIVER STONE BY IN­VI­SION/AP ??
’SNOW­DEN’ STAR JOSEPH GOR­DON-LEVITT AND OLIVER STONE BY IN­VI­SION/AP
 ?? MARIO PEREZ ?? Oliver Stone and Joseph Gor­don-Levitt on the set of Snow­den. Gor­don-Levitt por­trays Ed­ward Snow­den, the for­mer NSA con­trac­tor who leaked in­for­ma­tion on gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance.
MARIO PEREZ Oliver Stone and Joseph Gor­don-Levitt on the set of Snow­den. Gor­don-Levitt por­trays Ed­ward Snow­den, the for­mer NSA con­trac­tor who leaked in­for­ma­tion on gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance.
 ?? OPEN ROAD FILMS ??
OPEN ROAD FILMS

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