Sharon Vonne Stone (born March 10, 1958) is an American actress, film producer, and former fashion model. She achieved international recognition for her role in the erotic thriller Basic Instinct by Paul Verhoeven. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress and won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama for her performance inCasino.
Stone was born in Meadville, Pennsylvania. The second of four children, including older brother Mike Stone, she is the daughter of Dorothy (née Lawson), an accountant and homemaker, and Joseph William Stone II, a tool and die manufacturer and factory worker. Stone graduated in 1975 from Saegertown High School in Saegertown, Pennsylvania.
Stone won the title of Miss Crawford County in Meadville, and was a candidate for Miss Pennsylvania. One of the pageant judges said she should quit school and move to New York City to become a fashion model. In 1977, Stone left Meadville, moving in with an aunt in New Jersey. Within four days of her arrival in New Jersey, she was signed by Ford Modeling Agency in New York.
While living in Europe, she decided to quit modeling and become an actress. “So I packed my bags, moved back to New York, and stood in line to be an extra in a Woody Allen movie,” she later recalled. Stone was cast for a brief role in Allen’s Stardust Memories (1980), and then had a speaking part a year later in the horror film Deadly Blessing (1981). French director Claude Lelouch cast her in Les Uns et les Autres (1982), starring James Caan. She was on screen for two minutes and did not appear in the credits. Her next film role was in Irreconcilable Differences (1984), starring Ryan O’Neal, Shelley Long, and a young Drew Barrymore. Stone played a starlet who breaks up the marriage of a successful director and his screenwriter wife. In 1984, she appeared in a two-part episode of Magnum, P.I., titled “Echoes of the Mind”, where she played identical twins, one a love interest of Tom Selleck’s character. Through the rest of the 1980s, she had roles in such B-films as King Solomon’s Mines (1985) and Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold (1987), and played Steven Seagal’s wife in Above the Law (1988). Also in 1988, Stone took over the role of Janice Henry for the filming of the miniseries War and Remembrance.
Her appearance in Dutch film director Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall (1990) with Arnold Schwarzenegger gave Stone’s career a boost. To coincide with the film’s release, she posed nude for Playboy, showing off the muscles she developed in preparation for the film (she lifted weights and learned taekwondo). In 1999, she was rated among the 25 sexiest stars of the century by Playboy.In another Verhoeven film was the role that made her a star, playing Catherine Tramell, a brilliant, bisexual, alleged serial killer, in Basic Instinct (1992). Several better known actresses of the time turned down the part, mostly because of the nudity required. In the film’s most notorious scene, Tramell is being questioned by the police, and she crosses and uncrosses her legs, exposing her genitalia, which are not covered by underwear. According to Stone, she agreed to film the flashing scene with no panties, and although she and Verhoeven had discussed the scene from the beginning of production, she was unaware just how explicit the infamous shot would be:
“I knew that we were going to do this leg-crossing thing and I knew that we were going to allude to the concept that I was nude, but I did not think that you would see my vagina in the scene. Later, when I saw it in the screening I was shocked. I think seeing it in a room full of strangers was so disrespectful and so shocking, so I went into the booth and slapped him and left.”
Stone claimed in an earlier interview, however, that “it was so fun” watching the film for the first time with strangers. Verhoeven has denied all claims of trickery and said, “As much as I love her, I hate her, too, especially after the lies she told the press about the shot between her legs, which was a straight lie”. Screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, who later befriended the actress, also claimed in hismemoir, Hollywood Animal, that the actress was fully aware of the level of nudity involved.
Following Basic Instinct, she was listed by People magazine as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world. In 1992, photographer George Hurrell took a series of photographs of Stone, Sherilyn Fenn, Julian Sands, Raquel Welch, Eric Roberts, and Sean Penn. In November 1995, Stone received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located at 6925 Hollywood Blvd. That same year, Empire chose her as one of the 100 sexiest stars in film history. In October 1997, she was ranked among the top 100 film stars of all time by Empire. In 1995, she received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Dramatic Motion Picture, for her role as “Ginger” inMartin Scorsese’s Casino, opposite Robert De Niro. She also earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for the role. The same year, she starred opposite Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe, and Leonardo DiCaprio in the Sam Raimi western The Quick And The Dead. Also in 1995, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award. Stone starred opposite Ellen DeGeneres in the 2000 HBO film If These Walls Could Talk 2, in which she played a lesbian trying to start a family. For her work on ‘Walls’, she was again recognized by Women in Film, this time with the Lucy Award. In 2001, Stone was linked to a biopic of the German film director Leni Riefenstahl. The prospective director, Paul Verhoeven, and Riefenstahl herself, favoured Stone to portray Riefenstahl in the film. According to Verhoeven, he discussed the project with Stone and she was very interested. Subsequently, Verhoeven pulled out of the project as he wanted to hire a more expensive screenwriter than the producers did. Stone was hospitalized on September 29, 2001 for a subarachnoid hemorrhage, which was diagnosed as a vertebral artery dissection rather than the more common ruptured aneurysm, and treated with an endovascular coil embolization.