Sharon Stone has opened up about what it was like to film the 1992 erotic thriller Basic Instinct in her new memoir, The Beauty of Living Twice.
In an excerpt published in Vanity Fair, the actor, 63, describes a “terrifying” experience, writing, “The role was by far the most stretching that I had ever done in terms of considering the dark side of myself.
“It was terrifying. I had walked in my sleep three times during production, twice waking fully dressed in my car in my garage. I had hideous nightmares.”
Stone also talks about how she had no idea how exposed her genitals would be in the now famous uncrossed-legs scene where lead Michael Douglas first meets her character, Catherine Tramell.
“After we shot Basic Instinct, I got called in to see it,’ she writes. “Not on my own with the director, as one would anticipate, given the situation that has given us all pause, so to speak, but with a room full of agents and lawyers, most of whom had nothing to do with the project.
“That was how I saw my vagina-shot for the first time, long after I’d been told, ‘We can’t see anything – I just need you to remove your panties, as the white is reflecting the light, so we know you have panties on.’
“I went to the projection booth, slapped [director] Paul [Verhoeven] across the face, left, went to my car, and called my lawyer, Marty Singer,” Stone continued. “Marty told me that they could not release this film as it was. That I could get an injunction. First, at that time, this would give the film an X rating. Remember, this was 1992, not now, when we see erect penises on Netflix. And, Marty said, per the Screen Actors Guild, my union, it wasn’t legal to shoot up my dress in this fashion. Whew, I thought.
“After the screening, I let Paul know of the options Marty had laid out for me. Of course, he vehemently denied that I had any choices at all. I was just an actress, just a woman; what choices could I have?”
“Sharon is lying,” Verhoeven, 82, said in 2017. “Any actress knows what she’s going to see if you ask her to take off her underwear and point there with the camera.”
Stone also describes the sexist treatment she was subject to in the lead-up to making Basic Instinct, being told by a producer that “I should f*** my costar so that we could have onscreen chemistry.”
The actor uses her stories to stand up for all actors who have felt harassed and violated on set, writing, “I know that all of these women and men who have been harassed, been raped, had their jobs held for ransom, and been sexually tormented deserve their day in court. I know that to be true. I know that all of the unprocessed rape kits on police shelves everywhere must be processed so that crimes can be solved. This inaction is a true and real crime in itself.”