Also Credited As:Sharon Yvonne Stone
|Sharon Yvonne Stone on March 10, 1958 in Meadville, Pennsylvania, USA|
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Sharon Stone was born in rural Saegertown, PA, on March 10, 1958. She was the second of four children born to factory worker, Joseph, and homemaker, Dorothy, who had been wed as teenagers. In interviews, Stone joked (and her mother corroborated) that she was born an adult, walking and talking by ten months old and with a sophisticated, intense sensibility that made it hard to relate to kids her own age. She was remarkably creative, sewing her own clothes, writing, painting and staging plays in the family garage that included her own scripts and set designs. There was one movie screen in town and the avid film fan saw everything that came through when she was not glued to Golden Age Hollywood oldies airing on TV. Stone was also considered academically gifted and was skipped ahead several grades throughout her schooling which did not help her status as an awkward outsider. Towards the end of her high school career, at age 15 no less, she was spending half her day at Saegertown High School and half attending courses at a nearby Edinboro University.
Despite the fact that she was not very outgoing socially, the willowy, naturally blonde teen was urged by relatives to enter a local beauty pageant and received an esteem boost when she was named Miss Crawford County. In 1977, while studying creative writing full time at Edinboro University, Stone received further encouragement to go into modeling and decided it might as well be her ticket out of small-town life. Within four days of her arrival in New York City, Stone was signed with the prestigious Ford Modeling Agency. Over the next few years she became the face of such famous ad campaigns as Charlie perfume and Maybelline cosmetics, and while she was not crazy about the work, it enabled her to travel the world and soak up international art and culture. It was while living in Paris in 1980 that Stone decided it was time to focus on something more than her looks, so she moved back to New York and began dramatic training. She made her film debut with a non-speaking part as a beautiful woman fleetingly glimpsed from a moving train in Woody Allen's "Stardust Memories" (1980).
Stone continued studying with renowned acting coaches and persevered in lackluster films like Wes Craven's "Deadly Blessing" (1981) and guest TV spots until she landed a small recurring role in the short-lived professional baseball drama "Bay City Blues" (NBC, 1983). She did attract some notice as Ryan O'Neal's conniving actress girlfriend in "Irreconcilable Differences" (1984), her tough and independent demeanor leading to a series of roles in B-action films like "King Solomon's Mines" (1985) and the follow-up sequel "Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold" (1987) and "Cold Steel" (1988).
Getting a chance to stretch her developing acting muscles, she appeared as Robert Mitchum's daughter-in-law in the much-watched ABC miniseries "War and Remembrance" (1988) and her breakthrough seemed on the horizon when she landed seven (forgettable) TV and film roles in a two-year period. Stone had had her fill of what she called "stupid action movies" by 1989 when she was sent a script for the sci-fi actioner "Total Recall" (1990). When she found out it was being directed by Paul Verh ven, whose work she had admired, she changed her tune and jumped at the chance, landing opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger as his kick-boxing secret agent "wife" in what would be the first of her big screen breakouts.
Unfortunately, the actress was involved in a car accident immediately after her high profile boost and she spent months in recuperation. When she was able to return to work, however, she had a more recognizable name and was bumped up to the next level of work. She landed her first starring role in the psychological thriller "Scissors" (1991), and maintained her steely edge in "The Year of the Gun" (1991) and "Where Sleeping Dogs Lie" (1991) before reuniting with Verh ven and launching into far-from-overnight super-stardom with "Basic Instinct" (1992). With her performance as a voracious bisexual crime writer who becomes involved with a detective investigating her possible role in a string of murders, Stone elevated the erotic thriller well above the confines of the tired genre. Stone's infamous scene as the subject of a police interrogation who casually exposes herself beneath a miniskirt was the subject of much conversation, however the actresses' great achievement was not the calculated crossing and uncrossing of her legs but the sheer, unbreakable confidence with which her character unnerved half a dozen detectives who might otherwise have seemed crushingly intimidating. In the hands of lesser actress, the famous flash would have barely registered than little more than soft-core porn; hardly the feminist uprising that some interpreted it as.
Despite the debate and controversy, Stone emerged as a legitimate movie star, looking every bit the part of the classic Hollywood femme fatales whom critics likened her to. Screenwriter J Ezsterhas hoped Stone could bring the same depth to more of his middling male fantasies and though she really did not want to do "Sliver" (1993), another sizzling sex melodrama, she could not find any other part she liked better. Retreating into the much more familiar and conventionally sympathetic role as the victim of a psychotic voyeur was a disappointment and ultimately a waste of her fiery talent. Trying to stretch beyond the image of her past two films, she begged for the frigid wife role - they offered her much more to play the girlfriend - in "Intersection" (1994), which was a limited success and earned the actress a nomination at the Razzie Awards.
Harkening back to her earlier years when she was often cast opposite impossibly larger than life men of action, Stone paired with Sylvester Stallone in the explosive "The Specialist" (1994). She failed to offer much depth and could not make Sly look sexy, with New York Times film critic Janet Maslin likening the spectacle to seeing "the Hindenberg crash into the Titanic." Stone fared better in the risk-taking Western "The Quick and the Dead" (1995), signing on as co-producer and paying half of Leonardo DiCaprio's wages out of her own salary when the project ran into difficulties. Critical reception was uneven, but Stone was terrifically fun as a distaff version of a Clint Eastwood-like gunfighter, the film featured a pre-stardom Russell Crowe, and director Sam Raimi helmed the smartly derivative tale with style to spare. Later in the year, she gave her strongest dramatic performance to date as Ginger, the Vegas hustler who wins the heart of Robert De Niro, in Martin Scorsese's "Casino" (1995). No part had ever made such heavy demands on the actress and she was a Golden Globe-winning and Oscar-nominated revelation, letting loose with a corker of a performance as the beautiful and unstable, ultimately pathetic moll with no inner life.
Now a highly-paid, much-in-demand diva with her own production company (Chaos) and a first-look deal with Miramax, Stone filmed a remake of the noir classic "Diabolique" (1996) with Isabelle Adjani and Chazz Palminteri before playing a death-row inmate whose lawyer (Rob Morrow) works to save her from execution in "Last Dance" (1996). The former, a pale imitation of the 1955 classic, was notable more for her battle with its producer over refusing to bare her flesh, while the latter - despite presenting a uniquely drab, unglamorous Stone - followed too closely on the heels of the similarly-themed "Dead Man Walking" (1995). Protecting her hard-won stardom, Stone was a clever manipulator of her public image, on heavy press days reportedly changing outfits between each interview and photo session, a practice unheard of since the days of Carole Lombard and Norma Shearer. On the red carpet, Stone became thee fashion trendsetter. When donning a Gap turtleneck to the Oscars, she was crowned the fashion queen of Hollywood for going against the grain, but infusing her own personal style to great effect. Her personal life, however, and the wreckage of her real-life femme fatalities had solidified an image as an "ice princess," a tag she sought to lose in order to be taken seriously as an actress.
Stone went to work changing the public's perception of her, crediting Miramax executive Harvey Weinstein with having the foresight to see she could convincingly play a relatively normal, single mother "when everyone else said it was impossible." The fact that her production company ultimately financed 1998's "The Mighty" made his decision infinitely easier. That said, her strong, emotional performance in a secondary role confirmed her range, and her marriage to San Francisco Examiner editor Phil Bronstein helped with her transition. Stone finally began to achieve the diversity she had craved with movies like the animated "Antz" (1998) and "Sphere" (1998), an unfortunately lackluster Barry Levinson venture where she appeared as a biochemist. The flop was forgotten in the face of Albert Brooks' "The Muse" (1999), where she was fantastic as a Greek muse who lends her inspiration to Hollywood types, but not without turning their lives upside down with her demands.
Stone appeared in fine form in a brief role in "Simpatico" and resurfaced occasionally in low-profile projects - including "Picking Up the Pieces" (2000), "Beautiful J " (2000) and HBO's lesbian-themed "If These Walls Could Talk 2" (2000) - but her marriage to Bronstein kept her away from Hollywood - both geographically and on film - for many years. In 2001, the actress was further sidelined by an unexpected health issue when she suffered a brain aneurysm that nearly proved fatal. Following several surgeries and her eventual recovery, Stone appeared in a public service announcement meant to educate the public on recognizing the signs of a stroke.
Her recovery coincided with the end of her marriage to Bronstein, leaving Stone to return to Hollywood looking as fit and fabulous as ever, lighting up the big screen in director Mike Figgis' sly reinvention of a haunted house thriller "Cold Creek Manor" (2003). Stone gave one of her most campy and unsatisfying turns as the villainous model-cum-mogul Laurel Hadare opposite Halle Berry in the laughable flop "Catwoman" (2004). Offscreen, she was the subject of a courtroom battle after producers backed out of an alleged verbal $19.36 million agreement for her to star in a sequel to "Basic Instinct." She later settled, with part of deal including a planned sequel.
Stone next gave a great performance as a racecar driver's wife and the mother of an exhibitionist Lolita teen in Jim Jarmusch's "Broken Flowers" (2005). The low-profile indie earned less attention than Stone's presence at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland that year, where her impromptu fund-drive for malaria-preventing mosquito nets in Africa ended up digging unnecessarily into the pockets of UNICEF for an expense that was already covered by the African government. The following spring, her misguided philanthropic efforts were again under fire when she attended a press conference in Israel and declared that she would "kiss just about anybody for peace in the Middle East." However, no one could fault the actress for her tireless fundraising for AIDS awareness and research through her many AMFAR charity functions.
After over a decade of sequel speculation, Stone returned to the familiar territory that made her famous in "Basic Instincts 2: Risk Addiction" (2006). As promised, the nearly 50-year-old actress bared all in her return as the ice pick-wielding crime novelist Catherine Trammell, creating what she hoped would be a big enough stir to lure curiosity seekers into the multiplexes. But "Basic Instinct 2" took a critical and theatrical drubbing, while the actress received unbridled scorn for a performance that was deemed embarrassing and comical.
Stone rebounded yet again, and was the recipient of warm praise for her mature and grounded performance in "Bobby" (2006), first-time director Emilio Estevez's engaging look at the 16 hours prior to Senator Robert F. Kennedy's assassination at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, as seen through the eyes of several guests and employees. Following the film's debut at the 2006 Venice Film Festival, it received a nine minute-long standing ovation, particularly for Stone and co-star Demi Moore. Stone proved that her comeback was no fleeting success, giving a powerhouse performance the following year in Nick Cassavetes' "Alpha Dog," a fact-based drama in which she played the devastated mother of a murdered teen. Stone had no fewer than three feature releases scheduled for 2008, including independent films "If I'd Known I Was a Genius" and "The Year of Getting to Know Us."