It's hard not to associate Sharon Stone with her breakout role as the femme fatale in the provocative thriller "Basic Instinct" -- which unbelievably, was released 20 years ago -- or for her stellar performance as the gorgeous and troubled swindling prostitute-turned-Vegas Mafia wife in "Casino," which won Stone her only Golden Globe. And with those titillating characters still etched in the public's minds, it might take a minute for Stone's latest role to sink in: cover girl for AARP The Magazine.
Yep, the single mom of three, who is now 53, opens up to the 50-plus-publication this month about some of her most serious setbacks over the years and how she's moving on.
For one, a 2001 medical nightmare during which she was in and out of a coma in a San Francisco hospital until doctors discovered she had suffered a brain hemorrhage. Stone underwent a seven-hour procedure to stop the bleeding and repair the torn artery. Afterwards, however, she continued to suffer.
"I came out of the hospital with short- and long-term memory loss. My lower left leg was numb. I couldn't hear out of my right ear. The side of my face was falling down," she recalls in the publication's February/March issue. "I thought, 'I'll never be pretty again. Who's going to want to be around me?'"
The actress also gets emotional while discussing the two miscarriages she suffered five months into her pregnancies during her marriage to newspaper editor Phil Bronstein. Since Stone has a lupus-related condition that can affect carrying a baby to term, she and Bronstein had started the adoption process in case they couldn't have a child the old-fashioned way.
"The last time I lost the baby I went into 36 hours of labor. While we were at the hospital, our adoption attorney called. I thought, 'This is such a godsend. This is so right," shares Stone.
She and Bronstein, who married in 1998, adopted a son, Roan, in 2000, but soon after their marriage began to deteriorate. "He just didn't see me, talk to me, look at me," she says of her ex-husband, who filed for divorce in 2003. "His initial intention with me was probably corrupt. I was suckered. I'm embarrassed to say that."
After, Stone moved from San Francisco back to Los Angeles and adopted two more sons on her own -- Laird and Quinn. Bronstein was awarded primary custody of Roan in 2008, with a judge ruling that the child should stay in San Francisco. "I had had a brain hemorrhage and was an actress who had made sexy movies," Stone says of the court's decision. It was her perhaps her darkest moment, she explains, recalling having to speak at philanthropic events and praying, 'God, please help me. I know I have to go out there and raise money. But I've lost my child, I've lost my health, I've lost everything.' I was just broken."
These days, Stone is "loving" raising her three sons, ranging in age from 5 to 11, and focusing on her charity work, with a special concentration on AIDS work in third-world countries. And though she has a couple of roles in the hopper -- including one as Linda Lovelace's mother in the upcoming biopic about the '70s adult film actress -- Stone seems at peace with whatever way her career goes from here. "I've made humanitarian causes and my children much more my priority than the Hollywood scene, being liked, and getting movie parts," she explains. "If I'm not going to be a big movie star again, then guess what? That wasn't my destiny."