Born on the Fourth of July tells the story of Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic who was born on that day, went to war with all his might and came back paralyzed. Feeling betrayed by his own country, Kovic became an anti-war and peace movement leader. Born on the Fourth of July – according to his author Oliver Stone – was not a movie about battle or wounds or recovery, but a movie about an American who changes his mind about the war. Enhanced by a career-defining performance by Tom Cruise in the role of wheelchair-bound Kovic, the film gathered five Golden Globe nominations and won four awards: Best Picture – Drama, Best Director (Stone), Best Actor (Cruise) and Best Script, written by Stone and Kovic.
At the 47th Golden Globe Awards, held on January 20, Born on the Fourth of July triumphed over strong competitors: Do The Right Thing, Dead Poets Society, Crimes and Misdemeanors and Glory. Tom Cruise prevailed over Daniel Day-Lewis for My Left Foot (who took “revenge” winning the Oscar), while the other three Best Actors – Drama, were Jack Lemmon (Dad), Al Pacino (Sea of Love) and Robin Williams (Dead Poets Society). The movie is considered the second part of Oliver Stone's Vietnam Trilogy, between Platoon (1986) and Heaven & Earth (1993).
Accepting the Golden Globe award for Best Film, Oliver Stone thanked Tom Cruise (“You gave 150 percent of yourself, you were willing to sit on that chair with amazing zest and grace”, he said), and Kovic (“Ron, you were the backbone of the whole thing.) Ron Kovic gave Cruise his Bronze Star for his performance in this movie. For the duration of the scenes after Ron is paralyzed, Cruise stayed in and used a wheelchair off the set as much as possible.
The Philippines were the stand-in location for Vietnam and Mexico. Stone wanted to make the movie in Vietnam, but relations with that country and the U.S. were still frosty after the war. Stone, who based his earlier film Platoon on his own war experiences, tried for years to film the Kovic story. Tom Cruise's support and casting was pivotal to the project coming to light. It was Cruise's first Golden Globe Award as Best Actor, out of seven nominations throughout his career so far.