The #MeToo movement brought attention to survivors of sexual assault in harassment everywhere, but particularly in Hollywood. Women working in the industry have been clear that the situation is darker than we likely know. Now, Sharon Stone has written a memoir due out at the end of March. Early reviewers are getting their copies of The Beauty of Living Twice and finding themselves surprised by what they’re reading. Sharon Stone has been considered one of the more powerful women in Hollywood during the 1980s and 1990s. There’s the perception that would discourage sexual harassment. However, her new book says that just wasn’t the case.
In her new book, Sharon Stone recollects white male studio executives on multiple occasions suggesting that she should sleep with her co-stars to improve their on-screen chemistry. She does not name any of the executives. In one particular case, she says that her co-star was terrible. He couldn’t remember his lines. Apparently, he did poorly on his screen test, but they gave him the part anyway. Recalling this incident, Stone says that it wasn’t her job to make him good at his job. She also says that sleeping with him wouldn’t have fixed his lack of skill as an actor. Her job was to act. This was not a popular opinion.
Beyond the executives, others on set would also come to her trailer and ask if she was going to do it. There seemed to be a general belief that she simply would. Because Sharon Stone wouldn’t sleep with her male co-stars, she was labeled “difficult” in Hollywood. This label has been passed onto many actresses and is still commonly used today. Decades after the fact, we tend to find out more about why that label was used. When it comes up, it’s generally assumed the actress was a prima donna. Sometimes, that seems to be the case. Sometimes, they’re “difficult” because they didn’t play along while being sexually harassed.
One of the worst stories in her memoir is clearly the events surrounding Basic Instinct. This movie is well-known for one of the most famous nudity scenes of all time. However, we generally expect that an actress knows what is going to be shown on screen. In the case of Basic Instinct, Sharon Stone was lied to by director Paul Verhoeven. At this point, the director hasn’t publicly addressed what happened.
The book recalls the filming of the scene. Sharon Stone was told that her underwear was reflecting in the light. They assured her that nothing would be shown on screen, but that they needed her to remove her underwear. Stone was unaware of the onscreen nudity until she was screening the movie in a room filled with lawyers and agents. After, she slapped Paul Verhoeven in the face and went out to her car to call her lawyer.
In an excerpt released by Vanity Fair, Sharon Stone said, “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 bullshit.”
Getting her point of view out there may be part of what inspired Sharon Stone to write her new memoir. She tweeted about the upcoming release, referencing forgiveness for unforgivable acts.
Sharon Stone’s performance in Basic Instinct is part of movie history. It’s iconic. The movie is frequently referenced when discussing strong female roles. However, the way the actress was treated on the set of this production and others speaks volumes about how important changes in Hollywood—and elsewhere—truly are.
While excerpts are currently populating online, you can read The Beauty of Living Twice by Sharon Stone in full when it publishes on March 30, 2021.