Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates once called Russian President Vladimir Putin a "cold-killer" after looking into his eyes, but Oliver Stone, whose extensive interview with the controversial leader airs Monday night, said he sees something much different.
"[I saw] a statesman who is very concerned with Russian national interests," Stone told the "CBS This Morning" program.
"He's represented them pretty consistently for about 17 years in power, and he's there to talk."
Stone conducted his interviews over the course of two years, and he has compiled them into a four-night documentary series for Showtime. The series will begin at 9 p.m. EST Monday and concludes on Thursday.
On Monday, Stone said Putin "reveals himself more in the film than anybody I've ever seen," and called on viewers to draw their own conclusions.
Putin believes in talking, Stone said, and "he believes in peaceful coexistence."
"In the whole two years, I never heard him badmouth anybody," Stone said. "He said very positive things about Hillary Clinton and positive things about Donald Trump. He didn't care . . . he said the four presidents change, the policies remain the same."
And, said Stone, he believed Putin.
"I'm interviewing him," said the Academy Award winning director. "Why should he lie. And if he is, why should he omit something? I can understand if it's a state secret."
Stone said he believes Putin gave him such extensive access after he got to know him while interviewing Edward Snowden in Moscow for his movie about the NSA leaker.
"I went over nine times to see Snowden to get this story right," Stone said. "When I was there one of those times, I asked him [Putin] about it. He was quite brilliant about his view of it."
Stone's extensive access to Putin included visits to his home, car rides with Putin driving, and visits to the gym with him, and the director said that it's not easy to say why.
"Maybe I'm a good interviewer," Stone said. "Maybe people like me."
But it was Putin who invited Stone and his film crew for the interviews, Stone said.
"He heard he's going to be heard fairly and I'm not going to be an editor," the filmmaker said. "You don't hear Russia in the West. Sometimes you hear a dubbed voice."
Stone has come under some criticism for the documentary by people who say he was not tough enough on the Russian leader, but he dismissed that.
"My mom used to say you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar," Stone said. "My camera was on him for around 20 hours over four visits. There's a certain behavior. It's in the eyes. It's in the body language. You see it. You be the judge."
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