Oliver Stone is in Venice this year to present his latest documentary, Nuclear. Written alongside political scientist Joshua S. Goldstein, the film sets out to re-examine the role nuclear energy can play in our lives and demonstrates that the source of energy is humanity’s only realistic alternative to fossil fuels in the fight against climate change. Deadline sat down with Stone and Goldstein ahead of the film’s Lido premiere to discuss why the pair decided to team up and how the lengthy production process nearly ‘took Stone’s life’ .
As always, the jfk and Section The director is candid in his assessment of politics abroad as well as at home, concluding that climate change will be “the killer of all time” and that the United States could descend into a civil war because of the FBI investigation of former President Donald Trump. Stone also suggests that his next narrative feature could be his last.
Nuclear makes its Out of Competition debut in Venice on September 9th. The Gersh agency handles worldwide sales. Deadline can also share an exclusive clip from the documentary below.
DEADLINE: Nuclear. How was this film born?
JOSHUA S. GOLDSTEIN: I’m a professor of international relations, and I became interested in climate change about eight years ago and quickly realized that nuclear energy was the key. I then teamed up with a Swedish nuclear engineer called Staffan Qvist and wrote a book that came out three years ago about how France and Sweden quickly decarbonized their networks using nuclear. And from there, we wrote an op-ed in the New York Times. Oliver saw this editorial, then he read my book. I asked him to make a movie out of it, and that’s where it all started.
OLIVIER PIERRE: This is a very technical subject which is not my forte. I wanted to do this because I’ve been bothered by climate change ever since I saw the Al Gore movie [An Inconvenient Truth] in 2006. It is clear that something is happening. What I’ve seen in recent photos of rivers in Germany and France and this is the worst drought in 500 years. It’s frightening. There is nothing worse than climate change. This will be the killer of all time. Nothing compares to it.
DEADLINE: How was the production on the doc? How long have you been working on it?
PIERRE: From my point of view, it was a pain in the ass. It was the hardest thing I’ve worked on. I’ve never had to make so many changes because I couldn’t get it right. Joshua would nitpick me to death. I would send them a cut, and you can’t believe the ratings. I mean, nitpicking is the kind of thing that drives you crazy, like a graduate student at a university. But Josh was a very patient teacher. And I think we made the most of it. I think the movie is clear to a wide audience, but because it’s so controversial, it was really important to get the story right. To not have mistakes because people would jump at our throats if there were mistakes. There’s a huge “what if” audience out there.
DEADLINE: Are you worried about how the film will be received?
PIERRE: Well, the worst thing that can happen is that we don’t do anything. It just bounces off another documentary. I spent two years on it, which I don’t like to do. I haven’t done a feature film. I just did this. I would love to see the United States government invest the same amount of money in nuclear as it has invested in renewable energy.
GOLDSTEIN: What is extraordinary with nuclear power is that it enjoys the support of both parties. However, there is some division within the Biden administration. My feeling is that they don’t want to make a big deal about nuclear right now before the midterm elections because they want to keep their party together and not highlight the issues that divide the Bernie Sanders wing of the party of the Biden wing.
DEADLINE: How do you envision the distribution for Nuclear? Do you want it to be theatrical?
PIERRE: It’s not a movie you make for profit, unfortunately. It’s the kind of movie you just hope for the widest possible audience over a period of time. We’re showing it in Venice first, which is a good place to start, but we need to get the best distribution deal in the United States. Anyone who wants it theatrically is welcome. We would certainly cooperate. It’s great on the big screen, but if it’s just on TV, I’d be more than happy. I want it on Hungarian TV. I want it on Slovenian TV. I want it everywhere.
DEADLINE: The documentary contains many behind-the-scenes footage of nuclear power plants. How did you get access to the plants?
PIERRE: We did it step by step. The government of the United States was most afraid because, for them, it is a political question. Openly touting nuclear power remains problematic. So we worked our way into the National Laboratory in Idaho, which is the most modern and research-oriented place in the United States. We managed to do that without going through the Department of Energy. The French were very cooperative. The Russians have been very cooperative. Of course, I did some documentaries in Russia, so they were very open.
DEADLINE: Speaking of politics in general, what do you think of everything going on right now with Donald Trump and the FBI?
PIERRE: I think they may have something here. Something can come out of it. They want to stop him from running, but there’s going to be a reaction, you know? I cannot predict what will happen. Maybe a civil war. You press guys would like that.
DEADLINE: Olivier, what do you plan to do next?
PIERRE: Solve climate change. And I’m working on a script for another movie. I am an older man. I’m not going to put the same amount of energy into all of these movies as I did. If I do one more feature film, that would be great. As for documentaries, I don’t know. This one almost took my life. It’s too much work, but I’m very proud of it. And I think it’s one of the best things I’ve done.