One of the greatest scenes in the movie, and the one most referred to when [James] Woods's Oscar-nominated performance is discussed, is where Boyle [the character played by Woods] goes to confessoin for the first time in thirty-two years. "I remember the day we were shootin the Romero assassination scene at the church and Oliver said maybe you should do a confession," Woods recalls. "And I said, 'Oh really? First of all, let me tell you something, Oliver. You don't go to confession on the morning before the Mass. And he says, 'Well, they won't know the difference.' Right. There's like eighty million Catholics in the United States but they won't notice. Sure. And the irony is, they didn't. He was right. That's what's so aggravating about him! So I asked him for the lines, but he said, 'I don't want to give you the lines. I want you to just look into that dark murky soul of yours, into that weasel soul of yours, and come up with whatever you want.' And I said, okay, fair enough, but I don't want you around.James Woods, a Catholic, recounts how he "stole" a role from another Catholic actor (Martin Sheen) by pointing out that the other actor is "religious." From: Riordan, pages 155-156:
"So Oliver didn't say anything, but he did listen while we improvised the scene. We didn't even do a rehearsal; what you saw was the first time it came out of my mouth, just total improvosation. I just used the whole thing to get back at Oliver. Just about everything I said was getting back at him for stuff that happened during the film..."
When [Oliver] Stone told Wagner that Platoon and Salvador were being made by Hemdale, she asked to see the Salvador script. Finding that another powerful work, she then helped bring James Woods, who was also represented by CAA, into the project. Woods describes meeting with Stone to discuss the film. "He originally approached me to play Dr. Rock," Woods recalls. "But when I read the screenplay, I got excited about the idea of playing the lead because it was such a great role. So when we met, I asked who he had in mind for the lead and he said Marty Sheen. Now, I think Marty's a great actor, you know, but hell, I'm up for a role here so I'mgoing to cut his legs ouit from under him if I can, do what I have to do to get it. So I dais, 'Martin Sheen, huh? Oh, he's a great actor. He's kind of religious, isn't he?' And Oliver goes, 'Well, yeah, a bit.' And I go, 'Gee, I'm surprised he didn't have a problem with some of the language here. It's pretty strong.' And Oliver says, 'Well, he did have a few things that bothered him.' So then I say, 'Oh . . . I see. I thought you were going to do this thing for real . . . go all out? I mean, if you're just going to do another bullsh-- Hollywood picture . . .' And then Oliver stars assuring me that he wants to do the thing for real, so then he decided to cast me for the lead. The point being that this was all a dog and pony show which every actor goes through to get a part, but this time it worked."