Oliver Stone on the set of 'Savages' (Universal Pictures )
Oliver Stone has every reason to look a little bit gassed.
The director behind “Platoon,” “Born on the Fourth of July” and “JFK” has been busily promoting “Savages,” July 6’s drug war drama starring Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson. But that’s not the only high-profile project waiting in the wings: Stone has been racing to finish “Secret History of America,” the filmmaker’s long-delayed documentary series that’s due on Showtime in November.
“It’s been a four-year, on-and-off, effort,” Stone says. “There are 10 one-hour episodes. That’s like making a 10-hour movie, but in a classic documentary style.”
Stone says the series will be “mainstream,” but it’s not intended to reinforce what you think you already know about the country’s history since 1945. “We take a lot of myths that exist and stand them upside-down. It really does look at history in a way I’ve never seen,” Stone says. “We’re trying to understand how we got from World War II to the present.”
He didn’t offer any specifics, but Stone did say that subjects include Harry S Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower. “I’m not looking to create controversy,” he said of his unwillingness to divulge episode details. “I’m looking to get it done.”
But expect the series to make some waves.
“We want to be fair,” Stone said. “You have to be very careful because of your own karma.” But it’s also clear he intends to challenge perceived wisdom about any number of historical events, including the Cold War and the atomic bomb. “The narratives keep repeating themselves until they become the truth,” he said.
Stone said the series, made with historian Peter Kuznick of American University (who edited the book “Rethinking Cold War Culture”), is being rigorously researched and fact-checked; an 800-page “Secret History” companion book is headed to the printers.
Throughout his contrarian film career, the 65-year-old Stone has taken any number of unpredictable steps, examining Wall Street greed, professional football, Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, Cuba’s Fidel Castro, the early life of George W. Bush, heroism on Sept. 11 and, in next week’s “Savages,” the drug wars. He’s also had to apologize about recent remarks he’s made about the Holocaust and Hitler, comments that caused some critics such as media titan Haim Saban to ask Showtime not to broadcast “Secret History.”
Said Stone of the Showtime series: “It’s not going to be for everybody—that’s for sure.”