In Chasing The Light he writes about his rarefied New York childhood, volunteering for combat, and his struggles and triumphs making such films as Platoon, Midnight Express, and Scarface.
Before the international success of Platoon in 1986, Oliver Stone had been wounded as an infantryman in Vietnam, and spent years writing unproduced scripts while taking miscellaneous jobs and driving taxis in New York, finally venturing westward to Los Angeles and a new life.
Stone, now 73, recounts those formative years with vivid details of the high and low moments: we sit at the table in meetings with Al Pacino over Stone’s scripts for Scarface, Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July.
Relive the harrowing demon of cocaine addiction following the failure of his first feature, The Hand (starring Michael Caine); experience his risky on-the-ground research of Miami drug cartels for Scarface; and see his stormy relationship with The Deer Hunter director Michael Cimino.
We also learn of the breathless hustles to finance the acclaimed and divisive Salvador; and witness tensions behind the scenes of his first Academy Award-winning film, Midnight Express.
The culmination of the book is the extraordinarily vivid recreation of filming Platoon in the depths of the Philippine jungle with Kevin Dillon, Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Johnny Depp et al, pushing himself, the crew and the young cast almost beyond breaking point.
Written fearlessly, with intense detail and colour, Chasing the Light is a true insider’s story of Hollywood’s years of upheaval in the 1970s and ’80s, and Stone brings this period alive as only someone at the centre of the action truly can.
Oliver Stone is an Academy Award-winning director, screenwriter and producer. He has written and directed some of the most iconic Hollywood films of all time, from Midnight Express and Platoon, to Scarface and Natural Born Killers. Stone is also the co-author of The Untold History of the United States.
Image: Chasing The Light – courtesy of Hachette Australia