When you think about the most iconic movies of the 1990s, Basic Instinct undoubtedly features whether you are a fan of Paul Verhoeven’s film or not.
One thing that simply cannot be disputed, however, is the incredible performance Sharon Stone puts in as seductive murder suspect Catherine Tramell, the homicidal bisexual author at the heart of the film’s murder mystery. It was the role that launched actress Sharon Stone’s career, helped in no small part by one particularly steamy interrogation scene that’s no doubt familiar to millions.
Yet Stone’s performance is so much more than that. 34 at the time of the film’s release, the Oscar-nominee had previously worked with director Paul Verhoeven on Total Recall. She shone in that role too, playing Arnold Schwarzenegger’s manipulative wife – a role later expanded in the reboot with Kate Beckinsale stepping into the part.
Stone had to fight hard for the part of Catherine in Basic Instinct though and it was a role that came with plenty in the way of risks. The first in a glut of early 90s copycat erotic thrillers, Verhoeven’s movie broke the mold with its graphic sex, violence and female nudity.
It was enough to put plenty of other notable actresses off, including Julia Roberts, Kim Basinger, and Meg Ryan – but Stone was undeterred.
— Sharon Stone (@sharonstone) August 9, 2017
Speaking on Oprah’s Master Class back in 2014, Stone recalled the battle she faced, even then, to get the role.
“[Catherine Tramell] was not an easy part to get,” she said. “‘They offered it to 12 or 13 other women who turned it down. So it wasn’t like I got there and everyone was like, “Yay, she’s here!” It was like, “Mmmm.” But I knew walking on that set that I was enough.”
The doubters clearly never saw Stone’s incredible audition for the role, alongside Verhoeven – it would have surely silenced any nay-sayer with Stone coming off as smart and seductive in equal measure.
Stone was only paid $500,000 for the role but Basic Instinct was a huge box office hit, earning £352.9 million and a Golden Globe nod for its star.
She returned for a sequel nearly a decade later but carved out a career as a Hollywood A-lister in the years in between.
Arguably the high point came in 1995, when she starred in Martin Scorsese’s Casino, in a role that won her a Golden Globe and, perhaps, should have landed her an Oscar.
Stone lost out to Susan Sarandon for Dead Man Walking in the Best Actress category but has continued to shine in films like Alpha Dog, Broken Flowers and Love Lace. She will next be seen in The Disaster Artist – the film based on the behind the scenes tell all book chronicling the making of The Room, which is arguably considered to be the worst film of all time.