The Late Show: Oliver Stone Defends Putin in Extremely Awkward Interview

Filmmaker Oliver Stone hit an uncomfortable roadblock on Monday night in his press tour for the new docuseries The Putin Interviews.

During an appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, the Oscar-winning director teased his four-hour project (continuing tonight at 9/8c on Showtime), which features 12 interviews with Russian president Vladimir Putin filmed across a two-year span.

But Colbert’s Q&A with Stone quickly veered into awkward territory, beginning with Colbert’s suggestion that Stone didn’t grill Putin hard enough on Russia’s potential interference with the U.S. election.

“There was no follow-up on that question. He says, ‘Oh, we didn’t do it,’ and you said, ‘OK, great, see you tomorrow,'” Colbert began. “That doesn’t seem like an interview. That seems like an opportunity for him to propagandize.”

After admitting that he respects Putin for being “a strong nationalist,” Stone quickly lost the support of Colbert’s audience when he said the Russian leader has been “insulted and abused… in the press and the media,” a comment that earned loud jeers from the crowd. (The audience later giggled at Stone’s description of Putin as merely “a social conservative,” which led him to fire back, “I don’t know why you’re laughing.”)

Perhaps the highly uncomfortable conversation is best summed up by this question from Colbert: “Anything about [Putin] negative you found? Anything? Or does he have your dog in a cage someplace?”

Watch Colbert’s chat with Stone play out in the video above, then hit the comments with all of your thoughts.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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35 Comments
  1. TJ says:

    Thank you Colbert! It is about time someone put Oliver Stone in his place!

  2. HEYScott says:

    First Colbert your not the press your an unfunny liberal nut job infacuated with Trump . And your show is garbage your a pathetic sad little man who needs to get over the election and move on .

    • Kelly says:

      Okay, I think you need to dial back a notch and take a chill pill. I don’t agree with everything Colbert says, but I don’t think he deserves the vitriol in your comment. Especially one that is loaded with grammatical errors. I do think that Late Night shows should be lighter in nature and not so political. However, Colbert has the right to say and do whatever he wants on his show. As long as CBS is cool with it and he brings in the ratings.

    • TheMP says:

      Hard taking someone serious who doesn’t get his/her “your”s and “you’re”s right.

    • TV Gord says:

      I’m sure you “moved on” during the Obama years. Also, what the heck is “infacuated”? Is that something you do to you covfefe?

      • TheDuck0 says:

        “Infactuated” – An infection caused by a sudden rush of affection for another (Oliver Stone was infactuated after interviewing Vladimir Putin, but an ointment cleared it right up).

    • Drew says:

      I’m astounded by the degree to which people will bend over backwards to excuse Russian influence on the democratic process in the United States. Our country went overboard in the 50’s during McCarthy’s Communist hunts, but until this president was elected we NEVER allowed another country to interfere with our elections. Now suddenly it’s OK that a foreign government is tampering with elections in 38 states? (FBI source, today). When did you stop being an American????

      • Angela says:

        Seriously. If any other president had this Russian investigation swirling around them, Trump supporters would be up in arms, and rightly so. But for some reason, the Trump administration can do literally whatever it wants, no matter the risk their actions pose to this country, and his supporters will just dig in their heels and defend every single bit of it and go into “La, la, la, la, can’t hear you!” mode. It’s insane. Trump really was not kidding with his “I could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and still get support” comment.
        .
        (And considering how the right went around for eight years claiming Obama was some sort of supposed “communist”, seeing them standing by Trump and ignoring/defending his Russian ties, as well as liking Putin…well, that’s Twilight Zone territory there, that is.)

        • MelodyAZ says:

          These Trump supporters are no better than the ones who supported Hitler at the end. I hope they have the brains to become anonymous when the truth comes out

        • maggie says:

          I wonder how many posters are actual supporters? They could be trolls posting to anger people just for fun, or they could be paid posters, because Russia has been paying people to post on US sites.

      • Tony says:

        Living in Europe I am amazed how ignorant American people are of their governments lies, and I mean lies. When you quote the FBI that is truly laughable. The nonsense of Russia being involved in the election was a pathetic attempt by the neo cons to impeach Trump and get him out of power. The Americans have always needed a bogie man to validate their enormous defence budget, making billionaires even richer. Read some articles outside of your atrociously biased press.

        • Jbj says:

          I’m sorry, but I’ve lived in Europe for six out of the last eight years, and I’ve never gotten the impression that folks think Putin is a good guy who runs an above board Government. They think he is a shady dictator who strong arms his citizens and neighbors, and perpetually sides with other like-minded dictators. I also regularly read The Guardian, France 24 and the BBC News. While they can be critical of what the US does with its privilege, they aren’t blind to atrocities.

    • Mary says:

      Rinse, lather, repeat on every post. Should come up with new lines to spew out – getting tiresome reading the same thing. We get it you don’t care for Liberals or anyone pointing out the incompetence of the clueless wonder. You are a die hard sheep and facts be d.mmed.

    • Natalie says:

      You’re

    • Dante says:

      What is it with these conservatives that try to use liberal like it’s a bad word?

      Oh and it’s you’re, or you are an unfunny liber. Plus it’s infatuated. Punctuation goes a long way too.

    • Temperance says:

      You realize by using the phrase “liberal nutjob” in this instance makes you a con whackjob, right? You earned instant dismissal of anything you have to say. And, no, before the usual nonsensical screed starts, I’m not a lib or a Dem.

    • MelodyAZ says:

      Please have the courage to admit your racism. Have the integrity and own up to it. Just say you hate everybody who is not white, you hate gay people and you want to turn this country into a theocracy. But given the fact you used the term Liberal Nut Job…I have no doubt you will not respond to this post because you are a coward. People like you ar eno better than the ones who supported Hitler. And the world will be a better place when this madness ends and people like you can go hide in your bubble and wait to become extinct while the rest of us evolve

    • Sassafrass says:

      Before you run around dissing on anyone for expressing their point of view, you might want to learn the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ because you clearly don’t know. Also, the word is ‘infatuated’, not ‘infacuated’, which isn’t even a word. Your post also contains a run-on sentence.

    • maggie says:

      HEYScott, Putin is proud of you for standing up for him. You’ll get a bonus in your check this week.

  3. peterwdawson says:

    Definitely one of Colbert’s most awkward interviews, more so than the Ted Cruz one. I guess the Late Show continues the tradition of having the occasional infamous interview, even after Dave’s retirement. Now Jimmy Fallon just needs to get a perfectly timed interview and ask the question on everyone’s mind about the interviewee.

  4. kmw says:

    I will never understand the love fest between Putin and some in the USA( Stone and Trump). Whether Putin is a communist anymore isn’t the issue, it is that he is a dictator who devalues human life and hates criticism. And he is a bully( sound familiar?) A bully who is far more dangerous than some think. He is indeed a ” strong nationalist” but that ISNT a good thing no matter what Stone or Trump says

  5. Andrea says:

    I haven’t liked Colbert since his Comedy Central days. Not so much a content reason as much as a style reason. That said, it doesn’t surprise me that an exchange with Stone was awkward. Oliver Stone was also interviewed by the CBS This Morning team, and I’d classify that interview as awkward as well. Stone came across as a shill for Putin.

  6. Steven B says:

    Oliver Stone = Larry King

  7. neatcheat says:

    So Mr. Colbert, why don’t you go to Moscow and make a proper interview, with all your smart and uneasy questions? It’s easy to mock and criticize someone’s work because you don’t agree with it, even though Mr. Stone obviously spent much more time researching the subject.

    • Mark D. Moss says:

      The issue, for me anyway, is not that Colbert (or anyone) could have done it better. Putin is a strongman. Had Stone pressed him with follow-ups, or challenged his “line,” I’m certain that would have been *it* for the interviews. I haven’t watched the specials yet … but if all Stone did was stack the interviews end to end, with no editorial “voice” or footage to challenge Putin’s propaganda with factual context, that would be worthy of ridicule. If there’s a problem with the Late Show segment, it’s that Colbert admits to not having watched any of it, so we’re left clueless about what is happening with the piece. Stone’s reputation as a thoughtful, smart director would seem to make it unlikely that it’s a four-hour puff piece … if Colbert wanted to be confrontational in his interview, he damn well should have watched the documentary FIRST. I don’t see what happened as Colbert disagreeing with Stone … I saw it as an uniformed “bit.” But challenging him (Colbert) to “go to Moscow” is pretty silly, too. *His* job was to what at least *some* decent portion of the shows (more than the 60 second clip) before doing the interview.

      • neatcheat says:

        Stone interviewed Putin to present his (Putin’s) point of view on this situation. He never said “I believe this man and so should you”, it was just “Here is what he has to say, the rest is up to you”. I would call this being an impartial journalist. On the contrary the only thing Colbert wanted to achieve it to appeal to his crowd (obviously anti-Putin) and point that Stone didn’t tell the “right” thing as Colbert sees it.

        • maggie says:

          Stone isn’t being impartial in his interviews with Putin. He is being sycophantic, letting Putin put out his side without question. That’s not an interview, that’s propaganda. A good interviewer asks the questions that the subject doesn’t want to talk about. It’s about getting down into the reality of the person, and not just the superficial image that the subject wants to present. If you are doing a 4 part series about Putin, and you let Putin depict himself as he wants and not reveal something new, then you are a propagandist.

          • neatcheat says:

            It was his goal, to allow Putin tell his side. He did the same with Chavez and Castro. All these people were (and still are) represented in one-dimension and negative light in American press. I’m not defending Putin but I’m much more interested in hearing what the man to say for himself rather than listening to third-party and obviously biased opinion for a 100th time.

          • neatcheat says:

            Just imagine Russian journalist interviewing American President (I won’t name that president) and starting with something like ‘ YOU orchestrated wars in Syria and Ukraine! you can’t deny this, because everyone knows this, you imperialist warmonger!”. do you think the President will be willing to honestly participate in a conversation like this? I think he will go on the defensive or just say “this interview is over”. but that’s the kind of interview you’re suggesting

    • Andrew says:

      It’s not opinion that Putin is a dictator who continuously clamps down on free speech in Russia. It’s fact. You even allude to it in your comment when you say it wouldn’t be easy for Colbert to criticize Putin to his face. That’s not the point of his argument though. He’s questioning why Oliver Stone and our own President aren’t critical of Putin when it’s clear as day that he’s an anti-democratic strong man who has ideals out of line with the US constitution.

      • neatcheat says:

        I didn’t say it would be hard for Colbert to do, somehow both Stone and Megyn Kelly made it out or there alive. I say that he does not care, he has an agenda and a crowd to appeal, so why bother with facts. it’s funny that you mention free speech and say that the only thing Stone should have done is blast Putin regardless of what he has to say, because of course everything he said as a lie.

  8. Daniel Cretu says:

    Okay Mr. Oliver, I liked your movies, but now, sorry guy, you messed up, big time. All these things in which guys like you try to sell us Russia belong to Putin’s strategy. It is all describe in the art of war: if you cannot defeat the U.S. in a direct confrontation (economically, military, internationally influence, etc) you go and get your war inside the U.S.: make people inside the U. S. vouch for you that you are a great guy that does the best for his country. Unfortunately, the idiot Trump does not see what you are doing and for his personal gain, undermines the democracy and liberties that make the U. S. so strong. Shame on you Trump, you do not care about your country.