Interviews


Sharon Stone


Occupation: Actress, Producer
Date of Birth: March 10, 1958
Place of Birth: Meadville, Pa., USA
Sign: Sun in Pisces, Moon in Sagittarius
Relations: Husband: Phil Bronstein (newspaper editor); ex-husband: Michael Greenburg (producer); father: Joseph Stone (factory worker); mother: Dorothy Stone (homemaker); siblings: Michael (actor), Kelly (executive producer), Patrick; adopted son: Roan
Education: Attended Edinboro State University

 

SHARON STONE reputedly has an IQ of 154. This fact, though dutifully cited in most biographies of the actress, is typically mentioned only in passing as a kind of quirky kink  or kinky quirk, depending  in the rendering of an otherwise drop-dead gorgeous screen goddess. But, let's be honest, that is quite an IQ, no matter what you look like; being in the top 2% of the country, it qualified Stone to apply for membership in the intellectually elite MENSA society, which she did, passing the admittance test with flying colors.

Like many super-intelligent and creative people, Stone has her problems, too. Now, some of these problems the award-winning actress and producer would most likely acknowledge, and some, one suspects, she would not. Take for example her reputation. Stone's combination of gusty self-promotion and professional risk-taking has not endeared her to some in Hollywood, who see her as opportunistic, and, to use a fatigued cliché, bitchy. Articles about her are sprinkled with predatory phrases like "clawed her way" and glancing derogatory descriptors like "ruthless" and "brazen." Not a real problem, one would concede; after all, celebrities like Roseanne (whose stock in trade is bitchiness) and Sean "Bad Boy" Pennhave braved similar character recriminations to become infamously famous. Being difficult in a difficult place like Hollywood isn't really so bad, is it?

However, Stone's spotty cinematic résumé is something else again. No question of semantics here: she has been in some major-league clunkers. With missteps like Deadly Blessing (1981), Above the Law (1988), Year of the Gun (1991), Intersection (1994), and The Quick and the Dead (1995) to her discredit, the fact that she has logged screen-time with Bob De Niro starts to look less like her due and more like a fluke. Still, by virtue of her powerful presence and hard-won respect, the actress commands a large-dollar payday and is increasingly sought after for important roles.

Stone was born the second child of blue-collar parents in small-town Pennsylvania in 1958. A precocious, not to say brilliant, child, she entered college on a scholarship at age 15 to study creative writing. After performing a dramatic rendition of the Gettysburg Address at a local fair, the bright young woman came to the attention of beauty pageant promoters. It was eventually decided that she didn't possess the requisite malleable personality to succeed at the beauty-queen racket, and someone suggested that she try modeling instead, a profession, it is presumed, in which complicating matters of intelligence and character don't get in the way. Stone's family, to its credit, had her back; her dad, she has said proudly, "never raised me to believe that being a woman inhibited any of my choices or my possibilities to succeed." As for Stone's homemaker mother Dorothy, she cherished a hope that her gifted daughter could escape mediocrity and get out into the big world.

Modeling certainly did that for Stone, but it also bored her to tears, so she started undertaking small acting jobs on the side. Her first film role of any note was a fleeting, and admittedly undemanding, turn as a pretty woman in Woody Allen's Stardust Memories (1980). From there, Stone embarked on a lengthy series of weensy roles in worse-than-so-so movies in which she purportedly did not overly endear herself to crews and fellow cast members. After a good ten years of schlock like Bolero, Police Academy 4, and Action Jackson, she made the most of her butt-kicking role as Arnold Schwarzenegger's "wife" in Total Recall (1990). The part attracted a modicum of good notice, and she further stoked the publicity train's engines by posing for a nude pictorial in Playboy, thereby ensuring a heaping helping of Tinseltown notoriety.

About that same time, the director and producers of a psychological thriller called Basic Instinct (1992) were casting about for an actress to play the tasty lead role of bisexual wacko killer Catherine Tramell. They considered Michelle Pfeiffer (!) and Julia Roberts (!!) for the part before Stone's name came up. The part was as good as hers when she showed up for the reading with her hair styled becomingly in a French twist and dressed in a stunning Grace Kelly suit. The film's now-infamous interrogation scene, in which Stone uncrosses and recrosses her legs, revealing to the world just what didn't come between her and her tight dress, clinched her reputation as a bad-girl actress.

After Basic Instinct, Stone became one of the hottest properties in Hollywood, with parts coming fast and furious, even if they were primarily of the sex-tramp variety. She undressed again in the much-anticipated Sliver, but even her lovely form couldn't help the doomed picture's abysmal reception. Stone had succeeded in carving out an attention-grabbing Hollywood persona, to be sure, but she had also worked hard at learning the craft of acting, having undergone many years of serious dramatic study  and she wanted the kind of straight parts that would challenge her talent. Tough, confident, glamorous in an Old Hollywood sort of way, and above all smart (it is said that she quickly assesses the intelligence of each interviewer, and adjusts her behavior accordingly; she once sat through a New York Times interview chatting blithely on about Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged  while wearing a see-through blouse), Stone commandeered the brush when it came to painting her own starlet image.

That the actress' tenacity was starting to pay off became apparent when she won a starring role opposite Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese's 1995 film Casino; she applied herself assiduously to perfecting her honest portrayal of opportunistic hustler Ginger, impressing the film's crew and A-list cast with her professionalism and commitment, and earning a long sought-after Oscar nomination and the respect that goes along with it for her efforts. Riding high on her Academy approval, Stone started her own production company, and, with director Sam Raimi, made The Quick and the Dead, a quirky Western that promptly keeled over at the box office.

Although some of Stone's mid-'90s efforts did not perform well commercially or critically in this country  witness the truly terrible death-row drama Last Dance  her struggles to maintain her credibility have not been in vain. She has proved bankable internationally, largely due to the fact that she is actively involved in overseas promotional efforts for her movies; and she has managed to turn in a number of highly creditable performances  though she continues to get mired down in the occasional cinematic bog. Her recent offerings have fallen somewhere uncomfortably in the middle: She sketched a heartfelt and unglamorous characterization of a harried mother whose young son suffers from a rare disease in the overweeningly sentimental family drama The Mighty; played a tough-talking moll who becomes the unwitting and reluctant savior of a boy threatened by the mob in the ill-advised Gloria; mugged her way shamelessly through Albert Brooks' snarky Hollywood spoof The Muse; and appeared in British theater director Matthew Warchus' laborious screen adaptation of the Sam Shepard play Simpatico.

Stone resolutely maintains a gracious attitude toward her stardom. She has said she doesn't understand the pained, petulant way some Hollywood stars consign themselves to their fate; she herself feels grateful. Her personal life has also reached a happy and romantic resolution: After a spate of unlikely boyfriends and a couple of powerful mogul-type husbands, Stone married newspaper editor Phil Bronstein on Valentine's Day 1998. The couple resides in California, and adopted a baby boy, Roan, in 2000.

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