Director Oliver Stone turned on American critics and audiences on Wednesday, saying they had focused solely on the issue of homosexuality in Alexander, his big-budget epic that portrays the Macedonian hero as bisexual. He also blamed the U.S. invasion of Iraq for the movie's poor performance at the box office, arguing that people were distracted by comparisons between Alexander the Great's forays into the Middle East and President Bush's.
"The homosexuality thing was a buzzword and got all around," Stone told Reuters Television in London at the film's British premiere. "It was a hot-button issue, and I think it got overblown. 'Alexander the Gay'--I mean, it's ridiculous." Greek lawyers had threatened to sue Warner Bros. and Stone for depicting Alexander the Great as bisexual but dropped efforts to have the film banned after admitting that it did not contain the explicit scenes they had feared. U.S. critics also questioned whether a world conqueror with dyed blond hair and waxed legs would be able to attract people to theaters, while one newspaper called it a case of "Queer Eye for the Macedonian Guy."
Irishman Colin Farrell, in the title role, has defended as historically accurate his portrayal of Alexander, who carved out an empire stretching from the Mediterranean to Afghanistan in the fourth century B.C. He said the reaction to the film in the United States was "shocking," but he expected the response in Europe and Asia to be better. Stone, a three-time Oscar winner and director of acclaimed films including Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July, said his latest venture had fallen victim to events in Iraq. "Because Alexander at times sounds like George [W.] Bush, [people] get the two confused," he said. "I think it makes people feel queasy about empire and the concepts that Alexander espoused, but Alexander was not attacking the East in order to drain it of its resources. He stayed in the East."