Tom Cruise delivers a riveting and unforgettable portrayal of Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic in Oliver Stone’s Academy Award winning masterpiece based on a true story. It stars Cruise, Kyra Sedgwick, Raymond J. Barry, Jerry Levine, Frank Whaley, and Willem Dafoe.
The film follows the young Kovic from a zealous teen who eagerly volunteered for the Vietnam War, to an embittered veteran paralyzed from the mid-chest down. Deeply in love with his country, Kovic returned to an environment vastly different from the one he left, and struggled before emerging as a brave new voice for the disenchanted.
This is the second film in Stone’s Vietnam trilogy which includes Platoon (1986) and Heaven & Earth (1993). The film is based on the true story of Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic, originally told in his 1976 autobiographical book of the same name. Kovic and Stone wrote the screenplay together.
Stone wanted to use a nerve agent that would paralyze Cruise for a few days during filming, and Cruise was open to the idea. But the studio’s insurance company wouldn’t allow it. Kovic was skeptical when Cruise was first cast for the part, but was won over by the actor, giving Cruise his Bronze Star in admiration on the last day of shooting. Kovic appears at the beginning of the film, playing the wheelchair-bound soldier who flinches at the sound of firecrackers.
Born On The Fourth of July received eight nominations at the Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Cruise (his first nomination), it won for Best Director and Best Film Editing. The film also won four Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture – Best Drama, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Screenplay. Bruce Springsteen wrote the song ‘Shut Out The Light’ after reading Kovic’s book.
Extras: Feature Commentary from Director Oliver Stone. From the NBC News Archives – Backstory: Born on the Fourth of July