Sharon Stone, Untamed

"Well, let's see," she says, thinking back, "I wanted to play both the parts in So I Married An Axe Murderer, the wife and her sister. [TriStar] didn't want that, so it didn't feel worth it. I got a firm offer to do In the Line of Fire with Clint Eastwood, who is divine, but there was nothing to the part. I told them it would be cool if they wanted to change the villain to a villainess, but the truth is, the script, as it existed, was perfect. I met Mike Nichols a year ago on Wolf when it was about a man who so disliked people, he became a wolf so he didn't have to deal with them anymore. And he had this veterinarian girlfriend. Then, I read a more recent [version of the] script that lost its source of humor, where she was sort of a weird hippie kind of chick." After a moment, Stone tosses out, "Isn't Michelle Pfeiffer playing the part now? That'd be good," casually referring to the actress who, a mere few seasons ago, passed up playing Stone's role in Basic Instinct. Did she ever feel stymied by how to follow a monster hit? "I never felt like 'the project' came along after Basic Instinct," she confides. "Still, I just decided to go back to work. It finally came down to, 'Look, you're gonna do many projects and some of them will be good and some of them won't.'"

Hearing Stone review her career options, one wonders where her smart comedies are, the latter-day Carole Lombard and Claudette Colbert stuff that she seems so clearly born to play. "Well you might ask," she comments. "Apparently, it's very difficult for Hollywood people to get that I'm funny. Or that I can be. I suppose if I agreed to be funny and nude, they'd suddenly get it." What if sexy, wicked woman roles became her franchise? She shrugs, saying, "And I become a caricature of myself like half of the rest of Hollywood? I'm not gonna fight it, but it sure wouldn't keep my interest all day every day.

"Stone barely has a free day before starting Intersection, though she tells me that this one's less stressful because she'll shoot 25 days of work over four months. "That way," she explains, "I can still believe that I'm in my workaholic mode while actually having a life." Everyone concerned, from Paramount and director Mark Rydell to Gere and screenwriter Marshall Brickman, reportedly envisioned Stone in the juicy "other woman" role. Everyone except Stone, who pictured herself as the wife and mother. "They didn't think I had the depth to play the wife and mother.' Stone says, with the candor that can unsettle those who don't prefer things straight, no chaser. "I was offered the other part. Several times. Apparently, 'important' actresses had read for the role I wanted," she says, letting the important dangle in the air just the right number of beats, before adding, "but, apparently, they wouldn't test. So I said, 'Great, I'll test.' They were like, 'Oh, no, no,' but I said, 'No, no, no, I'll test.'"

She got the role she wanted, and word around town has it that she couldn't have been more generous to women who went up for the sexier role. One candidate told me that when she asked Stone why she wasn't after the meatier role, she answered, "It's someone else's time to get noticed for being the sex-pot." Score one for Hollywood sisterhood? "I don't believe in Hollywood sisterhood," Stone asserts. "I believe in world sisterhood. It's like what that feminist writer once wrote: if one woman told the truth about herself, the whole world would crack open. If there's one thing my career is going to be about, it's telling the truth. It's a kinder, gentler me this year."

Stone turns somber when I ask her to describe the sudden rush of fame that caught her up when Basic Instinct became a sensation. "It felt like I'd been playing second-string football for a long time, when, suddenly, I was playing in the Super Bowl. Even when Basic Instinct was a hit, I still felt like I was running with that ball toward the end zone. It took awhile for me to realize that I was already in the end zone with the ball down and the crowd screaming on its feet. I didn't know enough to just sit down and vomit."

But American fan and press frenzy was small potatoes compared with what happened when she publicized the movie throughout Europe, including at the Cannes Film Festival. "I had been there before with Total Recall," she says, "so I thought it might be dicey. But it was overwhelming. I had said, 'I need two bodyguards,' but in fact I needed 10. I couldn't leave my hotel room without many people flanking me, pushing back hundreds of people clawing at me, grabbing me, chanting my name. It was that way wherever I went. It was very, very scary because Sharon Stone wasn't me anymore, it was her. And they wanted her. I thought, if they're gonna have her, who am I gonna have?

"I really had to sit down after that, and think about separating 'Sharon Stone' from me because she couldn't be me anymore. Or I would go insane. So, they want her to be big, they want her to be fabulous, to say and do this or that? Then, she has to be that. I make plans based on it. I try to keep my real self very close to me now."

Which translates, she says, into her needing to watch her back nearly all the time. "People follow me," she explains. "People, I won't call them journalists, go to my parents' little hometown and move into motels to write trashy stories and 'A Current Affair' documentaries. They interview people who claim they've dated me whom I've never met. Tacky, thoughtless stuff. Once again, because it's her, 'Sharon Stone,' they forget that I'm a person with a mom and dad, a sister and two brothers who are all very affected by this stuff."

Gathering her knees up to her chest, she says quietly, "I once had a limo come to pick up my friend Mimi [Craven] and me at the airport--I was so exhausted, I got in the car while Mimi went with the driver to get the luggage and, suddenly, a flashbulb goes off and this guy jumps in the car and wouldn't get out. Horrifying. This whole weirdness is so not my world that, at first, I got myself in some real jams by not knowing the rules. I've had to completely change the way I travel. I thought I could go alone to the supermarket or the gas station. I miss not going to the 7-Eleven if I feel like it. I know that, for now, I can't do that."

The whole thing is so freakishly reminiscent of The Bodyguard, I ask whether she nails transgressors who try to mess with her. "Believe me when I tell you," she says, dead serious, "when people go over the boundaries of their legal rights, I take them all the way to the mat. I don't care if they're six countries away and I have to get Interpol to do it. Right to the mat."

Stone isn't a girl to paint any day gray for very long. Slowly, she sits up, throws back her head and arms, shakes off the blues, shoots me her best sex goddess look and cries, "But what care I about such problems? Why let such trivial things bother me? I'm a millionaire!" A mutual acquaintance of ours had told me that Stone makes this cry from time to time but even so, you've got to hear it, in person, to believe it: she's so comical and on-purpose campy, it's hard not to smile. Clearly no one knows better than she that she's on a roll.

I ask how her burgeoning fame affects her romantic life, a quest for excellence that has involved her over the years with producer Michael Greenburg (her former husband; their divorce left scars), or, more recently with Dwight Yoakam, with a young Los Angeles blue blood, with this director, that producer, and Christopher Peters, the offspring of the long-divorced Jon Peters and Lesley Ann Warren. Obviously, being famous can't hurt--lately, she's become engaged to Bill MacDonald, one of her Sliver producers. "One thing I've learned," she agrees, "is that any man in Hollywood will meet me if I want that. Make that any man anywhere. Happily, the upside of all this 'famous' malarkey is that it gives you an enormous opportunity to meet people--for whatever reason. Not just so you can settle down and have kids, which I do want to do, but so you can become involved in the worldwide scheme, like social politics, where you can help causes and effectively push for changes."

Stone's lately been making just such a push, hosting a woman's comedy special on Lifetime to benefit rape crisis centers, and seducing bidders to cut loose with $185,000 in an auction of a Ferrari, the proceeds of which benefited The Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

Just now, Stone's assistant floats back in, hands over a sheaf of messages, and quips, in pure Thelma Ritter-ese, "Everybody's trying to get next to you. I'm the only one trying to get away from you." Stone flips through these, muttering, "Roland Joffe, someone at Paramount, Michael someone, who's this?" and it's apparent that she's blase by now about how many on Hollywood's A list, the ones she dreamed one day might take her calls, now phone her. Suddenly, she jumps up off the sofa, and decides to sashay around the living room in a knockout pair of black-and-white-and-gold faux leopard-print high heels that have just been delivered at her door. "I had to have these," she croons, strutting her stuff. "When I asked somebody, 'What do I wear them with?' they paused, looked me up and down and said, 'Lipstick.'"

The whole scene strikes me as so funny, so "big Hollywood star of the '90s" that I suggest Stone and I play some more, this time by doing a Photoplay-style interview, vintage '50s screen queen stuff. Her face lights up when I suggest we make the topic "Sharon Stone's Advice to Sharon-wannabes Who Come to Big, Bad Hollywood." I explain, "I'll begin some sentences, you finish them."

"Shoot!" she says.

"When you step off the bus," I say, "be aware ..."

"That it should be the last time you ever take public transportation."

"The first place you should open a charge account..."

"... is at Sears, absolutely, because a gal always needs clean underwear."

"Everybody dumps the agent who gave them their first break..."

"Because they're stupid, greedy, foolish and making a mistake."

"Your publicist will tell you..."

"That your ideas are too dangerous and that you should stop. Everybody here wants to tame you! I behave like any wild animal-- I just pretend I'm tame until I get dinner."

"The closing of the Polo Lounge for a couple years impinges on a movie star's life..."

"Because there's nowhere else to go in good conscience to look at hookers."

"The real reason you'll need 8X10 glossy photographs is..."

"That they make the best wallet-sized photos for the man of your dreams."

"Here's something that I wish someone really had told me ..."

"Don't do King Solomon's Mines." She breaks up laughing. "I mean, it's on TV more often now than 'Gilligan's Island.' At least Ginger had better outfits."

"Why do we so worship gossip in this town?" I ask her.

"Because nothing really good ever happens."

Checking out those shoes, this whole scene, in fact, reminds me of how much Stone conjures up one of those gorgeous-girls-run-mad-in-Hollywood out of a steamy Jackie Collins or Jacqueline Susann novel. "It's my destiny that I'll write my own Valley of the Dolls-type Hollywood novel," she confesses. "My life is actually quite like Valley of the Dolls, except that I have better clothes and hairdos. I don't know what I'll call my expose about Hollywood, but I already have my opening sentence: 'The sex change operation wasn't nearly as painful as I had anticipated.'"


Stephen Rebello interviewed Johnny Depp for the April Movieline.

Pages: 1 2