Up Close and Personal with Sean Stone

 

When the name Sean Stone arises in a conversation, people invariably ask, “Are you related to Oliver Stone?” The reply, of course, is, “Yes. I’m his son.” Sean also happens to be my godson. We recently had lunch at Michael’s restaurant in New York City. Always busy with directing, writing, or acting, he had just returned from Morocco, where he was working on a film. I am very proud of Sean and his early accomplishments.

Sean calls Santa Monica, California, home, but he grew up all over the world—Mexico, the Philippines, New York City, Dallas, San Francisco, Paris, and New Orleans. From the age of six months, he has been on film sets and has traveled with his dad to India, Tibet, the Horn of Africa, and Asia. He considers it a great honor and a unique adventure to interact with so many cultures, hear different languages, and try exotic foods. He calls Los Angeles his wife, and New York City his mistress. He loves the contrast between the two cities—the urban sprawl of L.A. compared to the condensed energy of New York. He says New York drives his creativity, but doesn’t feel he would like to live full-time in the city.

When asked for an interview, his response was, “Sure.” I hadn’t counted on it being that easy.

CP: Are you an only child?

SS: I was seven when my brother was born, so for a while I felt like an only child. A sister was born when I was 10. Now we three love each other very much and try to spend as much time together as possible.

CP: How old were you when you realized who your father was?

SS: Around five. It dawned on me that my father just won an Oscar for the film Born on the Fourth of July. I knew that was a big deal, and that he was famous. I had met Charlie Sheen, Tom Cruise, and Michael Douglas, but at five that life was separate from my daily life of school, homework, and activities.

CP: Did you feel compelled to follow in your father’s footsteps?

SS: I’ve never felt that I’ve followed in his footsteps, and I haven’t felt compelled to do so. My mother would tell you that I loved playing with action figures—G.I. Joe, Star Wars, He-Man. I’d set them up and create elaborate stories with them. I guess I was making movies in a sense, but much cheaper. I loved storytelling and wanted to be a writer since I was about seven years old. Now I consider myself an artist who expresses himself through writing, acting, directing, hosting news and interview programs, and much more.

CP: Were you a rebellious teenager?

SS: Not really. I was introverted and was into reading, studying, and sports. I wanted to go to Princeton University after high school and made that my focus. I was more of a model student than a rebel.

CP: Why Princeton and not Yale?

SS: I found Yale too industrial, too bleak, without trees or glades. Princeton looked like paradise, but, as F. Scott Fitzgerald understood, these Gatsby worlds are illusory.

CP: What was your major?

SS: American history. I turned my thesis into a book, New World Order. It’s available on Amazon and other retailers.

CP: At Princeton, did you participate in sports?

SS: No. I gave up on sports after high school football and track. I didn’t have the drive to compete at a higher level.

CP: What is the most important thing you have learned that you have applied to your career or to your personal life?

SS: Discipline. Studying itself provided a reservoir of knowledge and insights that I draw upon in my work. The actual discipline of studying, wanting to know more, and working and reworking something begins at school.

CP: Were you encouraged or discouraged to get into the film business, or was that your own decision?

SS: It was my own decision, but I still battle between the two. I mean, it’s not much of a business. It’s more like a traveling showman who sets up shop and sells himself so people might buy his wares. I feel more like a rainmaker, honestly, listening to my soul in writing stories, some of which will ultimately find their way to the hearts and minds of millions.

CP: I know you work as an actor, but what medium do you prefer—acting, writing, or directing?

SS: I am the medium. I don’t mean that egotistically, but just to say that in this day and age, each of us is a brand. If I feel drawn to a project as a writer, I may not have it in my heart and mind to direct it. The same goes for me as an actor. But when something really grips my imagination and I want to grapple with it for the years it takes to direct, then I commit to it in that sense.

CP: What projects are you engaged in now?

SS: We just put out a martial-arts comedy I wrote, produced, and acted in called Fury of the Fist and the Golden Fleece. It was a long time coming, featuring icons like Michael Dudikoff, Bill Goldberg, Danny Trejo, Taimak, Ron Jeremy, Tommy Davidson, and so many more. Casting alone was a beast, but I think it’s a real adventure of a film, a total homage to action-hero cinema. And I just acted in a little indie called Night Walk that should be coming out next year but I’ll seal my lips on the next film until we’re in production.

CP: Who is your favorite movie star? And why?

SS: I love the classic actors like Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart, but I’d have to say, Toshiro Mifune. He could do it all. He had a sense of class and style, and the madness of a lunatic. He could be a fighter, a lover, a thespian. He’s the epitome of what I’d like to be as an actor.

CP: Are films today too violent, or too sexually graphic?

SS: Neither. It’s impossible to speak of films and TV today because it’s everything and nothing. I respond to the energy and heart of an era, and I’m not sure where I’d place us, but I don’t feel excited about going to movies anymore. There was a time when I did. Maybe it’s because I was young, but there was a mystery that anything was possible when the lights went out. The magic of an emotional experience, the music, the heart of the actors and the director—all of these are the things that may be missing for me in too many films now.

CP: Do you feel violent films contribute to society’s gun problems?

SS: I think mental issues have more to do with that. I don’t think films are driving mental problems. Films are just reflecting our collective insanity.

CP: As an actor, what has been your favorite role?

SS: The fist in Fury of the Fist. 

CP: Is there a role you turned down that you wish you hadn’t?

SS: Ask me that again in 20 years.

CP: Who do you consider your best friend or friends?

SS: That’s a good question. It’s changed so much. I’m learning to know myself right now so I can make that decision.

CP: What is your favorite curse word?

SS: Fuck.

CP: What’s the craziest thing you have ever done?

SS: Fighting completely naked on-screen in Fury of the Fist.

CP: Why did you convert to Islam? 

SS: I have always tried to make it clear that converting to Islam is a misnomer. To believe Muhammad is a prophet of the one god is the meaning of accepting Islam. The tenets of Islam are prayer, charity, fasting, and haji. I’ve yet to visit Mecca, but I think the other three are very respectable practices to work on.

CP: With the country as a whole being somewhat Islamophobic, has that been a problem for you?

SS: I don’t know that the country is Islamophobic. I’ve seen things in the mainstream media that are, but I don’t watch the news. I don’t think it’s been a personal problem for me.

CP: Politically, do you think we’re moving backward or forward?

SS: I’m excited about where we are. I feel changes are brewing, both positive and negative, but it’s necessary change. We have to come to terms with who we are as a nation. It’s time to look at ourselves collectively in the mirror.

CP: Why in either instance?

SS: Let’s just say we’re a young country that has a very important place in the world, but we haven’t been the best model yet for the world that we could be. I hope we become the role model that our rhetoric and ideals promise.

CP: Have you ever been married?

SS: Never married, and still single.

CP: Did you spend any time in the military?

SS: I did ROTC for a semester in college and quickly realized it was not in me to become a killer if called upon. I didn’t believe in the wars we were fighting. I feel the more important duty for me is to use my knowledge and position to help educate, enlighten, and bring peace through statesmanship.

CP: What is your ultimate goal?

SS: To help spark a new age of enlightenment in the world by reminding humans of our cosmic ancestry and destiny. Our souls don’t come from this world and we don’t end here. There is so much more for humans once we’ve awakened spiritually.

CP: If you weren’t in the film business, what would you be?

SS: I ask myself that question all the time and have yet to find an answer that makes me happy.

CP: Do you like music? What kind?

SS: Music is the language of the heart and soul. I love all kinds, depending on my mood. It’s about tempo—like when you watch a movie, and there’s some music that fits and works perfectly, and there’s other music that’s great, but just not for that.

CP: Who are some of your favorite authors?

SS: Hugo, Hemingway, Dostoyevsky, Conrad, and Balzac. There are so many great writers that escape me now.

CP: What things are on your bucket list?

SS: I want to visit the inner earth.

CP: When you enter heaven, what would you like to hear from the supreme being?

SS: “Mission accomplished.”

CP: How would you like to be remembered?

SS: As me.