Oliver Stone has responded to comments he made in an interview with Vladimir Putin published as a transcript by the Kremlin earlier this week. In that interview, the “Platoon” director expressed support for Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law. The law, which Putin signed in June 2013, makes the distribution of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” among minors an offense punishable by fines.
The two men were talking to promote “Revealing Ukraine,” a new documentary executive produced by Stone (and directed by Igor Lopatonok) that includes interviews with Putin — Stone had previously directed the four-hour Showtime series “The Putin Interviews” that aired in 2017. The Oscar-winner had previously produced Lopatonok’s 2016 documentary “Ukraine on Fire.”
“I don’t know what is going on with the American culture,” Stone told Putin. “It’s very strange right now. So much of the argument, so much of the thinking, so much of the newspaper, television commentaries about gender, people identify themselves, and social media, this and that, I’m male, I’m female, I’m transgender, I’m cisgender. It goes on forever, and there is a big fight about who is who.”
Putin responded by saying the younger generation “lives too well” and has “nothing to think about,” to which Stone said, “Yeah, but it’s not a healthy culture.”
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The Russian leader explained, “We have a law banning [gay] propaganda among minors.”
Stone responded, “Yes, that’s the one I’m talking about. It seems like maybe that’s a sensible law.”
Putin continued, “It is aimed at allowing people to reach maturity and then decide who they are and how they want to live. There are no restrictions at all after this.”
Though there’s no way to verify the accuracy of the transcript published by the Kremlin directly, Stone isn’t denying what he’s quoted as saying. He posted a statement to his Facebook page. The director said that neither he nor the Russian president are “anti-gay/LGBTQ” and directed anyone angry with his comments to watch his 2004 historical drama “Alexander.”
“As to gay/LGBTQ beliefs in Russia, again much misunderstood,” Stone wrote on Facebook. “Mr. Putin made himself clear in ‘The Putin Interviews’ – he’s not anti-gay/LGBTQ. Nor am I. Have another look at ‘Alexander,’ for which we took a beating in 2004. Beyond the Hephaestion story in the sexuality department, I prominently featured Alexander’s love for the Persian eunuch Bagoas, certainly an example of a third sex and emblematic of Alexander’s world vision, which I much admired. Do not bring American expectations to Russian life any more than you expect Iran, Korea, Venezuela, or China to follow our political or social demands.”
Stone and Putin have been friends for several years. In 2017, Stone sat down for a series of interviews with Putin that turned into the four-part Showtime docu-series “The Putin Interviews.” The two men were back together for Stone’s latest project, “Revealing Ukraine.” The Kremlin transcript between Stone and Putin has also generated headlines for a moment where the film director asks the Russian leader to be his daughter’s godfather. Stone says this bit was also taken out of context.
Stone’s representatives have not responded to IndieWire’s multiple requests for comment.