Sharon Stone says she made $500K to Michael Douglas's $14M for 'Basic Instinct'
Sharon Stone is taking on Hollywood's gender pay gap once again.
While speaking at Tuesday's New York Women in Film & Television’s 43rd annual Muse Awards, the actress said she made only $500,000 appearing 1992's Basic Instinct, directed by Paul Verhoeven, while her co-star Michael Douglas was paid $13.5 million more.
"Michael Douglas made $14 million," Stone told the crowd, according to Page Six. "Now, I was new. I was new and he was a very big star."
Douglas went into the project having won two Academy Awards and with film credits including Wall Street, The China Syndrome, Romancing the Stone and Fatal Attraction. Stone had made 17 films, but was relatively unknown save for her role in 1990's Total Recall, which was also directed by Verhoeven.
Stone— who said just two weeks ago that she lost half her fortune due to the recent bank fallout — also talked about how a line producer on the erotic thriller mistakenly called her Karen throughout the "entirety of the film." She said, "Even at the Governor’s Ball," after the Oscars, "he still called me 'Karen!' And I carried that humiliation really deeply within me — even though my name wasn’t on the poster."
Stone — who played crime novelist/possible killer Catherine Tramell — has spoken a lot over the last year plus about her experience making Basic Instinct.
Earlier this month, the 65-year-old said she lost custody of her eldest son Roan, now 22, because of her nude scene in the film. In her divorce battle from Phil Bronstein, she said a judge asked her "tiny little" son, "'Do you know your mother makes sex movies?'" She noted that viewers of the film saw "maybe a 16th of a second of possible nudity" in the film. As a result of losing custody in 2004, Stone, who later adopted two more sons on her own, says she "ended up in the Mayo Clinic with extra heartbeats in my upper and lower chamber of my heart. It broke my heart."
In December, in conversation at the Red Sea International Film Festival in Saudi Arabia, Stone spoke about the pay gap between herself and Douglas, saying her salary didn't give her enough money to provide for her own safety amid the stardom she achieved from the film. "I made $500,000 and Michael Douglas made $14 million. Michael could afford the car, driver, bodyguard," she said. "I had to move because people were on my roof and breaking my door down. I couldn't afford the things I needed because of the sudden fame I had."
In the same interview, she said, "There was this backlash that I must be like my character — I must be killing people and naked and showing my vagina in the supermarket. It became personally traumatic in my life; I lost custody of my baby in my divorce, because the judge decided I was making sex movies." She also revealed that she "went to the studio and asked them for a small budget" in hopes of directing her own film project after Basic Instinct, "and I was laughed out of the room. I was told 'women don't direct.'"
Also in December, Stone, who went on to star in Casino, said on social media that she "never got equal pay" as a working actress and hopes her kids sell her movie costumes one day when she's gone.
Last February, marking the 30th anniversary of the film, Stone wrote an essay for InStyle talking about negotiating to keep her costumes to offset some of the salary difference, which turned out to be a smart move. "I was 32 when I got the part of Catherine Tramell," she wrote. "It was probably as late as you could be in your career without a big break. But from the moment I read the script, I knew I was the right person for the role. It was an intellectually complex part, and I felt like I had a real grasp on it." However, "For the longest time, I was certain they were going to recast me with someone else, because how could I possibly star opposite Michael Douglas? I thought maybe I was just a placeholder. But during those first few wardrobe fittings, it really started to sink in. I couldn't believe how exciting it was and all of the incredible costumes that were being made just for me. I put in my contract that I could keep the clothes. People thought I was crazy, but the truth is I wasn't getting paid much compared to my male co-star. I made $500,000; Michael made $14 million. So keeping my costumes was a really smart thing to do." She still has "almost all of the wardrobe," including "the white dress and coat," from the infamous interrogation scene — in which her character uncrossed her legs and famously wasn't wearing underwear — that was "zipped up in a garment bag on the set, and it has never been opened since. I broke the zipper, so it's hermetically sealed like a piece of art or a very cool time capsule."
The year before that, Stone released her memoir, The Beauty of Living Twice, and in it claimed she was duped into removing her underwear for the film's interrogation scene under the pretense it would not be visible on film. Stone didn't see the scene until she was invited to a screening. She was so furious she consulted her attorney. Verhoeven maintained that he cleared it with Stone and said he his "memory is radically different from Sharon’s memory."
Stone is just one of the stars talking about Hollywood's gender pay gap this week. Kelly Ripa said her husband Mark Consuelos made more money than her on All My Children despite joining the show years after she did.