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Sharon Stone:

Balancing Religion and Acting,

Buddha and God

Actress Stone recalls a turning point in her life
and how Buddhism and her belief in God coexist in her life.

By Peter Hata

In a recent interview with Luaine Lee of the Deseret News Service, actress Sharon Stone told of an extremely difficult time in her life when the pressures and publicity that surrounded her as a successful actress had really gotten to her. "I broke my own heart, I think," she said. "That was the point where I felt I was making unhealthy decisions and my time wasn't spent with people who truly loved me. I spent too much time with people who had an investment in saying 'yes' to me. And that was so, so, so dangerous, particularly when you believe they love you. And you're loving them. And then you find out, at a certain point, hey, this is the gravy train."

The fame that surrounded actress Stone was of course due to her first big hit, "Basic Instinct." But, contrary to popular belief, this was not an "overnight success" for her. Stone had already paid her dues "in dimes," as she likes to say. A string of movies then followed, such as "Sliver," "The Quick and the Dead," "The Specialist" and "Casino," for which she earned an Academy Award nomination.

She recalls the furor she caused when she played the oversexed author in "Basic Instinct." "That was really fun, to suddenly be so successful, to suddenly have everybody think I was pretty and to suddenly have everybody interested in me and people yelling my name and crowds cheering. It was really fun. Then it didn't stop, and I couldn't believe it. I'd had a little success on "Total Recall" but it went away. But this just kept going and going and going and I thought, 'This isn't an incident, this is my LIFE.'"

But work became a sanctuary for her. "I felt that I became so famous so fast there was no graduation to the progression. So it got to be instantly that the most comfortable place for me to be was on a movie set. The world wasn't comfortable. It wasn't comfortable to go have lunch or go for a walk or take a trip. It just wasn't. So I worked obsessively - probably, in a lot of cases, so I had somewhere to go."

At a certain point, realizing she had begun to believe her own press, Stone took a hiatus from acting, choosing instead to spend a lot of time alone, and with her family and friends. She also met and fell in love with San Francisco Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein. "I probably wouldn't have met him if I hadn't gone into a changing period to begin with."

Eventually, Stone returned to acting, and landed a seemingly unlikely role in "The Mighty." She played the mother of a gifted but physically disabled boy who fortunately had the help of an athletic friend to help him cope with the taunting of his peers. Stone's role in the movie is only a supporting one, yet it is significant that she used her clout to get this particular movie made. The fact that this is a touchingly human movie about compassion and love, seems to show in Stone an increased appreciation of positive human relationships.

Interestingly, Stone was a wiz in grammer school, skipping a grade and also taking part in special Mensa classes. Then, while still in high school, she participated in college courses. She jokingly refers to herself as "nerdo-rama." Yet despite all of her beauty and brains, Stone's most appealing trait may be her honesty. "I don't feel polished and confident all the time," she says. "When you stand next to some people, some other actresses, I feel like a big lump. I don't think that anyone ever feels truly polished and confident or you're not telling the truth."

"I'm religious," says Stone. "Probably, to a lot of people's thought, I'm extremely religious. My practice is Buddhism, but I believe in God. Stone insists that there's no friction between overt devotion and her acting. "I've never had a conflict when I'm on a set," she says. "I've really given up my life to God and I know that's why I'm OK and at peace." Neither does Stone apparently see any conflict between her belief in God and her practice of Buddhism. However, Stone clarifies that "I don't believe in Buddha as my God...I believe in the practical ways of Buddhism as a way to live."




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