Sharon Stone says she was duped into removing underwear for infamous 'Basic Instinct' scene

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Sharon Stone has one of the most famous movie scenes ever, in Basic Instinct, but she says she was duped into it — and furious over it.

The movie star, 63, writes about her ups and downs in Hollywood in her new memoir, The Beauty of Living Twice. An excerpt on Vanity Fair details her difficult experience playing Catherine Tramell in the 1992 film, including how she was directed to remove her underwear for the film's infamous scene under the pretense it would not be visible on film. However, that wasn't the case and she and her attorney discussed taking legal action to prevent the release of the film.

"After we shot Basic Instinct, I got called in to see it," Stone wrote of the film directed by Paul Verhoeven and co-starring Michael Douglas. "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."

It was in that room of strangers that, "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'" she remembered. "Yes, there have been many points of view on this topic, but since I’m the one with the vagina in question, let me say: The other points of view are bulls**t."

American actors Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone on the set of Basic Instinct directed by Dutch Paul Verhoeven. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone on the set of Basic Instinct. (Photo: Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images) (Sunset Boulevard via Getty Images)

She continued, "Now, here is the issue. It didn’t matter anymore. It was me and my parts up there. I had decisions to make. I went to the projection booth, slapped Paul across the face, left, went to my car, and called my lawyer, Marty Singer. 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."

Stone, then relatively unknown save for her role in Total Recall (directed by Verhoeven) despite having made 17 films, thought about how she spent seven or eight months just trying to get a screen test for the role, and how she got the role only after it was offered to 12 other actresses.

"Well, that was my first thought. Then I thought some more," she wrote. "What if I were the director? What if I had gotten that shot? What if I had gotten it on purpose? Or by accident? What if it just existed? That was a lot to think about. I knew what film I was doing. For heaven’s sake, I fought for that part, and all that time, only this director had stood up for me. I had to find some way to become objective."

She had also put a lot into the role of her serial killer character. She wrote about how it had a "terrifying" impact on her with "hideous nightmares" and episodes of sleepwalking, "twice waking fully dressed in my car in my garage." While shooting the opening ice pick stabbing sequence, there was a moment where she feared she killed the actor (he passed out from her hitting his chest so many times), and all the blood left her so "woozy" she feared she'd pass out. Also, she endured disrespectful treatment behind the scenes, detailing how a line producer met her in his office to tell her, "'You were not our first choice, Karen. No, you were not even the second or the third. You were the thirteenth choice for this film.' He went on "to call me Karen all through the making and postproduction of the movie."

The Beauty of Living Twice, Sharon Stone's new memoir, is out on March. 30. (Photo: Knopf Doubleday)
The Beauty of Living Twice, Sharon Stone's new memoir, is out on March. 30. (Photo: Knopf Doubleday)

So she considered all of that in deciding what to do about the unauthorized exposure.

"After the screening, I let Paul know of the options Marty had laid out for me," she recalled. "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?"

However, "I did have choices," she wrote. "So I thought and thought and I chose to allow this scene in the film. Why? Because it was correct for the film and for the character; and because, after all, I did it."

After making her decision, she recalled attending the premiere of the film, which ultimately catapulted her to fame, with screen legend Faye Dunaway. After it ended, the crowed began to scream and cheer.

“'What now?' I said to Faye," Stone wrote. Dunaway replied, “'Now you are a big star and they can all kiss your ass.'”

In Stone's memoir, out March 30, she also wrote about once being advised to sleep with a costar "so that we could have onscreen chemistry." She recalled being told this, on an unnamed project, and thinking, "You guys insisted on this actor when he couldn’t get one whole scene out in the test. Now you think if I f**k him, he will become a fine actor? Nobody’s that good in bed."

She continued, "I felt they could have just hired a costar with talent, someone who could deliver a scene and remember his lines. I also felt they could f**k him themselves and leave me out of it. It was my job to act and I said so."

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