Stone on Stone
The director looks back on "Platoon," "Wall Street" and more.
Salvador (1986): "Financier John Daly read both screenplays -- Salvador and Platoon -- and says: "Oliver, great stuff. Which one do you want to do first?" I thought, "If I tell him Platoon, something could go wrong" because that happened before with Dino De Laurentiis. So I said I'd go with Salvador -- and he put the money up. It was a very tough production. Martin Sheen was my first choice to play the lead, and Jimmy Woods [who got the role] talked me out of it. But nobody would distribute it until John forced them to."
"If I hadn't made Platoon, maybe I would've gone nuts. I wanted to tell the truth about this war and what I knew, but the script was buried for 10 years. Emilio Estevez was going to play the Charlie Sheen character, then we had a false start. And three years later, I wanted a cast that was really young. But it was a rough shoot: Fifty days of rain, and we had to shoot, no matter what. And we had no money. [The scene where Sheen loses it and shoots at the feet of a Vietnamese man was based on Stone's own experience:] I got angry. These people could be very obtuse. I felt like I wanted to kill someone, but I shot at the feet instead. I lost my mind. But I didn't kill anyone in cold blood."
Wall Street (1987)
"Sean Young kept saying, "I should play the girl Charlie Sheen is chasing." And Daryl Hannah, meanwhile, was rejecting the concept of the character for being materialistic, and Sean felt more and more encouraged to lobby for the role, even though we were already shooting. It got to a place where I said, "I've had enough!" We were at a stable -- and the horse standing next to Sean was having an erection -- and she just wouldn't rehearse correctly. So we let her go. She tried to leave with some of the clothes from the movie, and we had a very tough producer who got the clothes back, and I heard she was in the streets of East Hampton, furious, and walking around half-naked."
Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
"That was 10 years in the making. It was written for director William Friedkin [The Exorcist] and Al Pacino. Billy gave me great advice: He said, "Write the movie straight" -- and he was right because the book [by Ron Kovic] was written in a fractured style. Billy said: "Write it like The Best Years of Our Lives. This is corny, but it's good corn." I saw Pacino rehearse, and he was great. But nobody would put up the money for Al in a wheelchair, and then Billy went off to do The Brinks Job, and Al went off to … And Justice for All. So that was it. Another f--ing death. Then after the success of Platoon, my agent Paula Wagner said, "Why don't you revive this thing with Tom Cruise?" He'd wanted to do Wall Street, but I had committed to Charlie."