Oliver Stone and Vladimir Putin are a match made in heaven. Stone’s upcoming documentary series “The Putin Interviews” could be just the project to give the filmmaker’s career the shot in the arm in desperately needs. The director of iconic films like “Platoon” and “JFK” has never wavered from tackling challenging political stories, both documentaries and narrative features, but the results as of late have been lackluster.
“The Putin Interviews,” a four-night series airing on Showtime this June, could change all that. While Stone has always been an outspoken critic of governments around the world, the recent rise of issues like surveillance, hacking and cyberwarfare have made him even more energized, and concerned, about current events.
“What’s going on right now is pretty shocking,” Stone said at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival. “The world is really out of control. We don’t know who’s doing what to who.” Here’s why the Russian president may be the perfect subject to help Stone get his mojo back.
These days, Stone does better with documentaries than dramas.
The last dramatic film Stone made that earned mostly positive reviews was 2006’s “World Trade Center,” about two Port Authority police officers who become trapped under the rubble of the World Trade Center. All four of the narrative features he’s directed since — “W.,” “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” “Savages” and “Snowden” — have been disappointments. While divisive along ideological lines, Stone’s last Showtime documentary project, “The Untold History of the United States,” was a well received 10-part series beginning with World War I and ending with the first Obama administration.
The timing is perfect.
Stone’s first interview with Putin for “The Putin Interviews” took place roughly two years ago, long before Donald Trump even won the Republican presidential nomination, but with Trump now in the White House amid ongoing investigations into Russia’s interference in the U.S. presidential election, Stone has arguably the most high-profile interview subject on the planet. The series is comprised of more than a dozen interviews between the two men, taking place over the past two years.
Stone doesn’t shy away from the hard questions.
The gripping teaser trailer for “The Putin Interviews” only includes Stone asking Putin one question, but it’s undoubtedly the single most important one of the series: “Why did Russia hack the election?” Stone asks. Anyone familiar with Stone’s interviewing style knows he doesn’t pull any punches. Whether it’s former Cuban president Fidel Castro in the 2003 documentary “Comandante” or former South American leaders Lula da Silva of Brazil, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela in 2009’s “South of the Border,” Stone never compromises for the sake of his subjects.
A four-night event, “The Putin Interviews” begins June 12 at 9 p.m. on Showtime. Check out the teaser trailer below.