Getting financing for your movie project should be a breeze if you’re Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone’s son.
It’s less simple when you tell the world you’ve recently converted to Shiite Islam in the Iranian holy city of Isfahan. Then things become tricky, and your investors start calling you out as a terrorist.
Stone’s son, Sean Christopher Stone, 27 years old, converted to the Muslim faith two weeks ago while traveling abroad in Iran. He tells Fox411 that the Hollywood producers and investors he was working with prior to his conversion have turned on him, and are now reluctant to fund his projects.
“I was shocked by some of the early reactions of the people I have worked with. I was grilled with phone calls about whether I was reliable, whether I am a terrorist and whether I had lost my mind. It was such a negative initial response,” Stone told Fox411. “These were people I had been working with for some time, producers who were interested in doing deals and raising money. There was just a deluge of what exactly my conversion meant. I don’t know to what extent this will damage my reputation.”
Stone, who has adopted the Islamic name Ali, has several projects in the works. One is a documentary on Jinn: supernatural creatures in Arab folklore. He is also working with a co-producer in Iran to develop two projects—one on the Sufi mystic poet Rumi and a second on Ashura, the Shiite holy day commemorating the death of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhhammed.
The director’s son tells us that his father, Oliver Stone, is concerned for him.
“At first he was receptive and said ‘Allah be with you,’” the younger Stone recounted. “But my father is nervous in many ways for me. I realize that I am out on a ledge here but I feel what I am doing is morally right. We shouldn’t get stuck into these wars abroad while our economy is being bankrupted.”
Oliver Stone had no comment for this story.
Stone converted weeks ago before returning to the United States, where he has done a series of interviews on his turn to Islam. He says that he chose to follow the path of Shi’a Islam over the more popular Sunni Islam because he had a revelation in Isfahan that it was the right path for him and because of the great respect he holds for the Shi’a caliph Ali, whom Shias believe to be the prophet Muhammed’s successor.
Stone tells Fox411 that he knew he would be treading a tricky path upon his return to the United States, but he didn’t expect it to be as bad as it is.
“I hear from people who are virulently anti-Muslim. They forget that Muhammad Ali was a Muslim and no one called him a terrorist," Stone said. "I find it strange that just because you recognize a religious faith you become a villain."
He says that he will continue to pursue funding abroad if his conversion persists in turning off American investors.
While in Iran, Stone says that he had a meeting with an advisor for Iran’s Supreme Religious Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei to discuss making films in his country.
“I was invited to meet with the Supreme Leader and the President. I am supposed to meet with the Supreme Leader next time I go. The idea is to get financing for projects we want to shoot there. When I met with his aides it was always in the context of making films but I was able to voice my opinion on other things. I was able to say, ‘Let’s stop this down with America slogan and try ‘Down with Empire.’ People around the world can get on board with the 'down with empire' concept,” Stone said.
Stone hails from a diverse religious background. He was born into a Jewish bloodline, baptized as a Christian and his father practiced Buddhism. He says he realizes he is putting himself in the line of fire by speaking out about American-Iranian politics at a time when it is a political hot button issue, but he feels it is his duty to try to educate the American people, even if it means he will never work in Hollywood again.
“It’s risky and I feel the heat, but I feel morally responsible to say that I do not agree with this war and that I oppose this war. I feel what is happening now is tragic for our country,” Stone said. “What happened to the people who were courageous enough to say this isn’t right?”