Sharon Stone (born March 10, 1958) is an American actress, film
producer and former fashion model. She first achieved international recognition
for her performance in the erotic thriller Basic Instinct. She was nominated for
an Oscar and won a Golden Globe for her role in Casino, and has won an Emmy.
Sharon was born in Meadville, Pennsylvania. The second of four children, she is the daughter of Dorothy (née Lawson), an accountant and homemaker, and Joseph Stone, a tool and die manufacturer. Sharon graduated in 1975 from Saegertown High School in Saegertown Pennsylvania, graduating early in an accelerated study program in conjunction with Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. After graduating high school, she briefly attended Edinboro.
As a teenager, she worked at a fast food restaurant.
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Sharon won the title of Miss Crawford County in Meadville. One of the pageant judges said she should quit school and move to New York to become a fashion model. When her mother heard this, she agreed, and, in 1977 Sharon 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. After signing with Ford, Sharon spent a few years modeling and appeared in TV commercials for Burger King, Clairol and Maybelline
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. While auditioning, she met Michelle Pfeiffer, who recognized her from the pageant she competed in, and the two became friends. Sharon was cast for a brief but memorable role in Allen's Stardust Memories (1980), and then had a speaking part a year later in the horror movie Deadly Blessing (1981). When French director Claude Lelouch saw Sharon in Stardust Memories, he was so impressed that he cast her in Les Uns et Les Autres (1982) starring James Caan. She was only on screen for two minutes and did not appear in the credits.
Her next role was in Irreconcilable Differences (1984), starring Ryan O'Neal, Shelley Long, and a young Drew Barrymore. Sharon plays a starlet who breaks up the marriage of a successful director and his screenwriter wife. The story was based on the real-life experience of director Peter Bogdanovich, his set designer wife Polly Platt and Cybill Shepherd, who as a young actress had starred in Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show (1971), which co-starred Stone's mother-in-law Cloris Leachman and won her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. The highlight of Stone's performance is when her cocaine-addict character plays Scarlett O'Hara in a musical pitched as a remake of Gone with the Wind.
Through the rest of the 1980s she appeared in Action Jackson (1988), King Solomon's Mines (1985) and Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold (1987). She earned the Razzie Award for Worst Actress for her performance in Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold. She also played the wife of Steven Seagal's character in Above the Law (1988). 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.
Her appearance in Total Recall (1990) with Arnold Schwarzenegger gave Stone's career a jolt. To coincide with the movie's release, she posed nude for Playboy, showing off the muscles she developed in preparation for the movie (she lifted weights and learned Tae Kwon Do). In 1999, she was rated among the 25 sexiest stars of the century by Playboy.
The role that made her a star was that of Catherine Tramell, a brilliant, bisexual serial killer, in Basic Instinct (1992). Sharon had to wait and actually turned down offers for the mere prospect to play Tramell (the part was offered to 13 other actresses before being offered to Stone). Several better known actresses of the time such as Geena Davis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Meg Ryan, Melanie Griffith, Kelly Lynch and Julia Roberts turned down the part mostly because of the nudity required. In the movie’s most notorious scene, Tramell is being questioned by the police and she crosses and uncrosses her legs, revealing the fact she was not wearing any underwear. According to Stone, upon seeing her own vulva in the leg-crossing scene during a screening of the film, she went into the projection booth and slapped director Paul Verhoeven.
Sharon claimed that although 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. She said, "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."
Despite this, she claimed in an earlier interview 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 the actress was fully aware of the level of nudity involved in his memoir, Hollywood Animal.
Following this film, she was listed by People 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 these portraits he recreated his style of the 1930s, with the actors posing in costumes, hairstyle and makeup of the period.
Stone's stardom was such that she received top billing over Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio when cast as a gunslinger for Sam Raimi's 1995 western The Quick and the Dead.
In November 1995, Sharon 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 movie 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" in Martin Scorsese's Casino opposite Robert De Niro. She also earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for the role.
In 2001, Sharon was linked to a biopic of the German film director Leni Riefenstahl. The prospective director Paul Verhoeven and Riefenstahl herself favoured Sharon to portray Riefenstahl in the film. According to Verhoeven, he discussed the project with Sharon 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.
Sharon was hospitalized in late 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.
Sharon starred opposite actress Ellen DeGeneres in the 2001 HBO movie If These Walls Could Talk 2, in which she played a lesbian trying to start a family. In 2003, she appeared in three episodes from the eighth season of The Practice. For her performances, she received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series.
Sharon attempted a return to the mainstream with a role in the film Catwoman (2004); however, the film was a critical and commercial flop.
After years of litigation, Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction was released on March 31, 2006. A reason for a long delay in releasing the film was reportedly Stone's dispute with the filmmakers over the nudity in the movie; she wanted more, while they wanted less. A group sex scene was cut in order to achieve an R rating from the MPAA for the U.S. release; the controversial scene remained in the U.K. version of the London-based film. Sharon told an interviewer, "We are in a time of odd repression and if a popcorn movie allows us to create a platform for discussion, wouldn't that be great?"
Despite an estimated budget of $70 million, it placed only 10th in gross on its debut weekend with a meager $3,200,000, and was subsequently declared a bomb. It ultimately ran in theaters for only 17 days and finished with a total domestic gross of under $6 million. Despite the failure of Basic Instinct 2, Sharon has said that she would love to direct and act in a third Basic Instinct film.
She appeared in the drama Alpha Dog opposite Bruce Willis, playing Olivia Mazursky, the mother of a real-life murder victim. Sharon wore a fatsuit for the role. In February 2007, Sharon found her role as a clinically depressed woman in her latest film, When a Man Falls in the Forest, uplifting, as it challenged what she called "Prozac society." "It was a watershed experience," she said. "I think that we live in a... Prozac society where we're always told we're supposed to have this kind of equilibrium of emotion. We have all these assignments about how we're supposed to feel about something."
In 2007, she appeared in a television commercial demonstrating the symptoms of a stroke.
Sharon lives in Beverly Hills, California, and owns a ranch in New Zealand. In March 2006, Sharon traveled to Israel to promote peace in the Middle East through a press conference with Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres.
Sharon sparked criticism for her comments made in an exchange on the red carpet with Hong Kong's Cable Entertainment News during the 61st Annual Cannes Film Festival on May 25, 2008. When asked about the 2008 Sichuan earthquake she remarked:
"Well you know it was very interesting because at first, you know, I'm not happy about the way the Chinese are treating the Tibetans because I don't think anyone should be unkind to anyone else. And so I have been very concerned about how to think and what to do about that because I don’t like that. And I had been this, you know, concerned about, oh how should we deal with the Olympics because they are not being nice to the Dalai Lama, who is a good friend of mine. And then this earthquake and all this stuff happened, and then I thought, is that Karma? When you're not nice that the bad things happen to you?"9
Observers have also noted that Wenchuan County, the epicenter of the
earthquake, is located in Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, where
ethnic Tibetans comprise over half of the population. According to the Hollywood
Reporter, after her comments, one of China's biggest cinema chains released
statements stating its company would not show her films in its theaters. The
founder of the UME Cineplex chain and the chairman of the Federation of Hong
Kong Filmmakers, Ng See-Yuen called Stone's comments "inappropriate" and said
the UME Cineplex chain would not be releasing her films in the future. Christian
Dior advertisements featuring Stone's image were also dropped from all ads in
China amid the public uproar. Sharon was also struck from the 2008 Shanghai
International Film Festival guest list, with the event's organizers considering
a permanent ban for the actress.
Dior China had originally posted an apology in Stone's name, but Sharon later denies making the apology during an interview with the New York Times, saying "I'm not going to apologize. I’m certainly not going to apologize for something that isn’t real and true — not for face creams," although she does admit she had "sounded like an idiot". The Dalai Lama has reportedly distanced himself from her.
On January 28, 2005, Sharon helped solicit pledges for $1 million in five minutes for mosquito nets in Tanzania, turning a panel on African poverty into an impromptu fund-raiser at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Many observers, including UNICEF, criticized her actions by claiming that Sharon had reacted instinctively to the words of Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, because she had not done her research on the causes, consequences and methods of preventing malaria; if she had done so, she would have found out that most African governments already distribute free bed nets through public hospitals.
Of the $1 million pledged, only $250,000 was actually raised. In order to fulfill the promise to send $1 million worth of bed nets to Tanzania, UNICEF contributed $750,000. This diverted funds from other UNICEF projects. According to prominent economist Xavier Sala-i-Martín, officials are largely unaware of what happened with the bed nets. Some were delivered to the local airport. These reportedly were stolen and later resurfaced as wedding dresses on the local black market.
In April 2004, she was awarded the National Center for Lesbian Rights Spirit Award in San Francisco for her support and involvement with organizations that serve the lesbian, gay and HIV/AIDS community and performed Can't Get You Out of My Head with Kylie Minogue in Cannes for AIDS research. She was presented the award by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.
It has been said that her parents raised her with feminist values. "My dad never raised me to believe that being a woman inhibited any of my choices or my possibilities to succeed. To be a feminist like Dad in that blue-collar, middle-class world is a big stand."
In the early 1990s, Sharon became a member of the Church of Scientology. Sharon remained with the religion until recently when she converted to Tibetan Buddhism, after fellow actor Richard Gere introduced her to the Dalai Lama. She is an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church.9
She was first married briefly to George Englund Jr., but she left him for television producer Michael Greenburg. In 1984, she broke up Greenburg's marriage; he became her second husband. The marriage lasted three years. She married Greenburg in 1984 on the set of The Vegas Strip War, a TV movie he produced and she starred in, along with Rock Hudson and James Earl Jones. They separated three years later, and their divorce was finalized in 1990.
She was engaged to producer Bill McDonald after they met on the film Sliver (1993). McDonald left his wife, Naomi Baca, for Stone. The tabloids initially labeled her a homewrecker, but their attention turned to Baca after she got involved with Basic Instinct screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, who would leave his wife for her. Soon after her fling with Eszterhas, she began a secret affair with her bodyguard Joel Swigart. Swigart, her bodyguard since 1988, was married with two children. He and Sharon had a secret relationship until 1995 when tabloids found out about the affair while Sharon was filming The Quick and the Dead. During the film Sharon relieved Swigart of his duties as her bodyguard and stated he needed to be home with his family as the reason he was let go. Sharon still denies to this day that they had a romantic relationship. Swigart has not been seen in Hollywood since 1995.
On February 14, 1998, she married Phil Bronstein, executive editor of the San Francisco Examiner and later San Francisco Chronicle. Sharon and Bronstein were divorced in January 2004. They have an adopted son named Roan Joseph Bronstein, born on May 22, 2000. She also adopted her second son, Laird Vonne Sharon on May 7, 2005. On June 28, 2006, Sharon adopted her third son, Quinn Kelly.
In 2005, during a television interview for her movie Basic Instinct 2, Sharon hinted an interest in bisexuality, stating "Middle age is an open-minded period". Sharon has said that in the past she's "dated" girls. While filming Basic Instinct, her best girlfriend was there to hold her hand out of camera range during some of the scenes. And in a biography, Naked Instinct, author Frank Sanello details a sexual liaison between Sharon and a woman in the bathroom of the Beverly Hills Hotel. In an interview on the Michael Parkinson talk show in England on March 18, 2006, she said she was "straight". However, in January 2008, she was quoted as saying, "Everybody is bisexual to an extent. Now men act like women and it's difficult to have a relationship because I like men in that old-fashioned way. I like masculinity and, in truth, only women do that now".
In an interview with Garry Shandling, recorded specially for the latter's 2007 DVD Not Just The Best Of The Larry Sanders Show, Sharon admitted she and Shandling had been in a relationship during the early 1980s and that she felt she'd contributed in some way to improving his monologues while Shandling was guest host on The Tonight Show, standing in for Johnny Carson.
For many years it was believed that Sharon Stone was a member of Mensa, but in April 2002, she admitted she was not, and had never been, a member of the high-IQ society. Jim Blackmore of Mensa said, "It's delightful to finally see Miss Sharon admit that she's not and never has been a member of our society. But then she goes on to say, 'I went to a Mensa school.' Not so." Blackmore said that would not have been possible as there have been no Mensa schools since the early 1960s.
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