Off the Cuff

Oliver Stone: I Learned Nothing From the Rich

Off the Cuff

“I’ve been around many rich people in my life. I don’t think I’ve learned anything from them. I think most of them are highly tense, anxious individuals who have not shared with me the great wisdom that I’m getting from people from different walks of life, sometimes much humbler."

That’s Oliver Stone, talking to “Off the Cuff” about some of the wealthy people who bankroll his movies.

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He recently sat down with “Off the Cuff” and was blunt, outrageous and controversial -- the cantankerous filmmaker we’ve come to know over the years and who has brought us classics such as “Wall Street.” Now in his late ‘60s, Stone – one of Hollywood’s most original storytellers, or an untempered conspiracy theorist, depending on your view – remains as rebellious as ever.

Latest Project: ‘The Untold History of the United States’

Stone’s latest project is a 10-part documentary series provocatively titled, “The Untold History of the United States” for Showtime. There’s also a companion 750-page book. The film series begins with World War I and ends with the first Obama administration. It’s a project that combines his two professional passions: film and writing.

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For Stone, who made his name in film first as a scriptwriter, this latest project fuses his passion for untold histories and strong visual appeal.

“I drifted in a bit accidentally to the film business and I found in the camera and sound and the all-around-ness of the movies a chance to combine the visceral and the verbal which is always be there with me, the verbal, but the visceral is what the movies gave me.”

Stone’s film career, which spans more than four decades, includes “Platoon” (1986) for which he won an Academy Award for Best Director and for Best Picture, “Born on The Fourth of July”(1989), for which he won his second Oscar for directing, and “JFK” (1991).

Wealth and Wall Street
Among Stone’s most popular films are his two movies about Wall Street – 1987’s “Wall Street” and “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” (2010).

CNBC asked Stone how he researched the “Wall Street” movies. Did his personal connections in business and finance provide valuable insights?

“Put it this way, I had relationships with people on Wall Street when I was making the two movies. Which is sort of like the film business: friendships come and go with money.”

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On Wealth
He offered his own definition of wealth: “I think of wealth as something you don’t leave behind. You can’t take it with you, it’s something obviously spiritual and non-materialistic. It’s a good feeling about what you did in your life and good relationships. That’s true wealth.”

Stone’s married to his third wife, Sun-jung Jung, with whom he has a daughter. He has two sons from a previous marriage.

“How do I balance work and family? I don’t. It’s all been work this last period. Not much family life. You know family life is nice in the movies. There are nice moments. We kid ourselves if we think one barbecue with all the relatives is going to change your life. Most of your relatives you can’t stand… and sometimes your children too.”

When he’s not working, or spending time with family, he said, “to blow off steam I would probably drink, drug and party.”

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