March 20, 1998; cover story|
Just when you thought Sharon Stone had blitzed off to a nudist farm where big, bronzed men loll on the beach like tufted coconuts, she ups and surprises us all over again. Three major things have taken this woman to a different level of comprehension; Stone turns 40 this year, she's newly married (on Valentine's Day for gawd's sake), and she's decided "no more sex scenes" as they're now inappropriate for someone in her age cluster. We deign to wonder, when is it appropriate?
Six years ago, Sharon Stone made her point (of view) by doffing her panties in Basic Instinct This woman could do no worse! After 15 years of being underfoot, Stone needed a box-office hit like she needed a shot of anti-platinum serum. Director Paul Verhoeven saved her with a the part of a bisexual murderess, which took to Stone like a birthday suit. She played it so fierce, so convincingly, that it was only destiny that Stone became the object of worship for millions of fans.
Along with the adoration, she was accused of nearly every vice in Hollywood - manhandling, husband-snatching, prostituting, bisexuality - and the biggest one of all, the morbid accusation of not looking her age.
Stone is a full 40 - she makes no bones about it - and won't pretend to play a younger woman. She refers to up-and-coming star actress Ashley Judd (who's well into her twenties) as 'the kid', and is pleasantly at peace with her own late entry into stardom. And well done! Stone is so big a celebrity that her name picks up movie-going reviews with greater fervour than necessary.
Her fabulous blonde looks first won her a beauty contest, a top modeling career, and a movie debut in Stardust Memories- all by the age of twenty-two. Then things slowed down. After ten years of mediocrity in movies like Bolero, Police Academy 4, and Action Jackson, Stone made an impact in her role as Arnold Schwarzenegger's wife in Total Recall.
A nude pictorial in Playboy served as the perfect segue into Basic Instinct, a whodunit thriller in which Stone starred with Michael Douglas. She says, "we had great chemistry, me and Michael. We just loved to antagonise each other. Like him or lump him, he's a brilliant man and it was fascinating to be around him."
We'd say. Stone has a habit of being an choosy opportunist when it comes to men. Some she'd touch, while others don't even get the foot-long pole. Her performance in Basic Instinct was so steamy that producer Bill MacDonald couldn't resist her. He left his new wife and took up with Stone. Before they began their co-habitation, Stone made MacDonald sign an agreement stipulating that if the relationship ended, he wouldn't talk to the press. They broke up, and while she trashed him in papers across the globe, he remained stoically silent.
After Basic Instinct, Stone became one of the hottest properties in Hollywood. She undressed again in the much-anticipated Sliver, but even her lovely form couldn't help the doomed picture's abysmal reception. Her relationship with co-star Billy Baldwin was "very tough". They didn't get along and to this day Stone maintains that he preferred that she was hit by a train. Not one to hedge over small matters, Stone has put all the nastiness behind. She's got the humour to comment that playing a "cheap coke whore slut mean vixen" was a challenge and a blast. What pluck!
Stone may have courageously taken on roles that were down and dirty, but in her latest film, Barry Levinson's sci-fi thriller Sphere, she's totally butch, utterly scientific and wholly in control. Except in certain segments of the film, where her character, biologist Beth Halpern, harbours suicidal tendencies over an affair with a married man, Stone shines as the only woman in an all-bloke team with the gall to spend long, hot hours in a stuffy diving bell. Stone admits overcoming the ill-effects of claustrophobia while working underwater, and that it was very disturbing for her to be in the ocean and not be able to see it.
Was it a tough movie? Stone is brutally honest about the risks, "I always take the philosophy that no stunt is free, that you're going to walk away bruised, whatever it is". The public has generally preferred Stone in parts that are very strong and edgy, which might just do the thing for her this time round.
She qualifies, "There's just a certain element of it that costs and the bigger the action, the bigger the stunt work, the more outrageous the elements, and when you're working with fire and water there's nothing more difficult to contain and control.
With her signature blonde hair cropped close to the scalp, a dialogue that's spitfire and no joke, plus a talented cast of leading men like Dustin Hoffman, Samuel L. Jackson and Peter Coyote, Sphere will turn out to be far from the customary alien encounter. Because yes, this movie is about aliens. A sorry-looking craft is discovered on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, and a team of 'wildlife' experts is sent to explore the unknown missive. What does Stone think about extraterrestrials on earth? She's quite a enthusiastic sci-fier, well not in as big a way since the movie Total Recall, but comments that if she met an alien, she would say, "I feel certain that I don't need an anal probe".
She describes her character as, "a woman that's fragile and vulnerable and yet very honest and strong, and I really like that combination". Perhaps what she really means is that having a complex, intertwined personality makes her day a lot sunnier.
Her undisputed intelligence (she's reputed to have an IQ of 154) helped lead her to Martin Scorsese's Casino, a film that earned her an Oscar nomination. Subsequent starring performances in an unnecessary 1996 remake of the Henri-Georges Clouzot noir classic Diabolique subsequently undid the respect earned from the Academy's seal of approval. Another film, The Quick and the Dead, marked her first outing as a producer.
The Valentine'sDay US release of Sphere coincided with her marriage to San Francisco newspaper editor Phil Bronstein. It's the second marriage for both and came as an almost-surprise. In keeping with her image as a 'reformed' film star, she went traditional - donning a pale pink Vera Wang gown, veil and jeweled tiara - to marry Bronstein, 47, in her Beverly Hills mansion. The two have been dating for less than a year. They met while Stone was filming Sphere at an old and defunct Marine base in Northern California.
Everything happened so fast. Like everything Sharon Stone, the biggest, most beautiful moments in life take their own sweet time to happen. Oh but how!
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