[interviewer]: Did you ask him about his relationship with Juanita in Miami?
[Stone]: God, I don’t remember. There were so many women.
[interviewer]: Juanita is his sister.
[Stone]: Juanita’s his sister? … He seemed to be a very straight-shooter, very kind of shy with women.
[interviewer]: I’ve called him the movie star dictator. Did you get that sense about him?
[Stone]: Totally. I think it would be a mistake to see him as a Ceausescu. I would compare him more to Reagan and Clinton. … They were both tall and had great shoulders, and so does Fidel.
[interviewer]: For the second film, you received permission to see the dissidents [Stone]valdo Paya, Vladimiro Roca, and Elizardo Sanchez. They spoke critically of the government. Obviously, that couldn’t have happened unless permission for them to see you was granted, right? What do you make of Castro allowing that to happen?
[Stone]: I don’t think he was happy with it. I don’t think he wants to be in the same film with Paya. In his mind they are faux dissidents.
[interviewer]: He actually calls them faux dissidents? He called them the so-called dissidents?
[Stone]: Yeah, so-called, right. I was in Soviet Russia for a script in 1983, and I interviewed 20 dissidents in 12 cities. I really got an idea of dissidents that was much rougher than here. These people in Cuba were nothing compared to what I saw in Russia.
[interviewer]: Did you ever think to bring up why he doesn’t hold a presidential election?
[Stone]: I did. He said something to the effect, “We have elections.”
If you’re naive it’s easy to conclude that leftist cultural icons like Stone have some special insight. After all, they seem so confident in their views, and so many people in the press treat them deferentially. But it can take nothing more than a few pointed questions to make clear that a famous maker of politically themed movies is an ignorant fool. What’s remarkable is how seldom journalists ask such questions. But once in a while someone does, and once in a while the interviewee lets his guard down and the celebrity balloon deflates. (I give Stone credit for risking a hostile interview. Famous leftists like Barbra Streisand, who issues proclamations on her web site but otherwise shirks open debate, deserve even less respect.)