Just a Minute With: Oliver Stone on George "W." Bush

LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - Director Oliver Stone has never shied from controversy in his 30 years making movies, tackling issues ranging from the Vietnam War in movies like “Platoon” to violence and society in “Natural Born Killers”.

Actor Josh Brolin (R) arrives with director Oliver Stone to attend the premiere of the film "W." in New York, October 14, 2008. The movie, directed by Stone, is a film portrait of U.S. President George W. Bush and it opens in theatres less than three weeks before Americans select their next president. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

A three-time Oscar winner, Stone’s latest subject is President George W. Bush. His movie “W.” opens in the United States on Friday, less than three weeks before Americans elect their next president on November 4.

Oliver Stone, 62, talked to Reuters about what drove him to make “W.” and to release it at this time.

Q: Why is it important to release “W.” so near to the 2008 U.S. presidential elections when President George W. Bush is not running for office again?

A: “We are dealing with the phenomenon of Bush and whoever wins the election, his impact is going to be in the shadow of this huge presence that existed for eight years and which changed the world. I think a lot of people should come because it’s good for them, before the election, to think about who they elected in the last eight years, and about where we are as a country right now.”

Q; Which is the legacy of the Bush administration that most concerns you?

A; “This man has left us with a legacy of three wars -- the war in Iraq, in Afghanistan and the war on terror -- and the policy of the preemptive strike. These are all very dangerous things in terms of foreign policy.

“Internally he has assumed privileges for the executive that were never taken in such extremity before or over such a long period. He has violated laws and not enforced laws that he did not agree with.”

Q; Why didn’t you make this movie four years ago, when President Bush was running for reelection?

A: “We did not have the information. The 2000-2003 period (of the Bush presidency) was a veiled Orwellian masterpiece, where they closed off all documents and fired anyone in the inner circle who talked to the press. This guy was infallible for three years. It was only in about 2004-2005 that this was starting to come out. Without all the investigative reporters, where would we be?”

Q; What in your opinion was the driving force in Bush’s life?

A; “Bush grew up under the curse of being the first son and the black sheep of the family and he had to prove himself stronger (than his father). So for him, winning a second term was crucial and above all finishing the job in Iraq. I think Bush personalizes a very complex series of world situations and makes them into issues of his own ego, which I call cowboy or John Wayne-like.”

Q; What will people find most surprising in this movie?

A; “We put our hearts into it. I think it is compassionate and I think people may be surprised it is compassionate.”

Reporting by Jill Serjeant; editing by Patricia Reaney