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March 2006

Basic Instinct 2

Sharon Stone interview

Sharon Stone talks about the allure of making Basic Instinct 2,
the casting of David Morrissey and the stunt that
almost went wrong while making the movie in London.

Interview by Rob Carnevale
www.indielondon.co.uk

Even by the belated standards of sequels, 14 years is a heck of a time. Why has it taken so long?

Well we had to gather experiences for Catherine no doubt. I think a lot of things happened in the meantime. We started to think about making a sequel but the company that made the original had many changes. The studio that had the rights to it was going to sell, then not and so on. The negotiations were good, then bad, then good. I left the business and then came back. So there were lots and lots of things that happened along the way.

Did you have any doubts about doing the role again?

Well I can’t say that it was always on the top of my thoughts. I made a lot of other movies along the way, I’ve had children, had another life, so this wasn’t central to my thoughts.

Did you get a chance to have your say in the casting of a leading man. And, if so, what made you go to David?

Jeez, look at him! Michael and I thought that it should be someone new and we both agreed that it had to be someone who was extraordinarily talented. We also agreed that it had to be someone who was really smart and had a weird sense of humour because we think that the movie is kind of weirdly funny and kinky. So Michael looked for people and then he asked me about people. We then tested some and every person that we tested was great. It wasn’t like, “oh gee, nobody is terrific”. So it was a question of what kind of movie should it be? Should it be a movie where the guy is young? What happened when David came in, there was this kind of rubber band-like tension and unspoken dialogue. It was like that when David came in the room. We laughed, we had this weird humour.

Due to the four inch heels you were wearing when you had your scene with Stan Collymore, you almost drowned? Was it as scarily dramatic as that when your heel became caught in the grating of the car?

It was frightening because the kind of shoe that I had on was a sandal with a buckled ankle strap. So it wasn’t the kind of shoe I could take off. I knew that it was dangerous going in because the floor had a metal grating, so that the water could come up through the floor. Given that we really did drop that car into a giant tank about 170,000 times over three and a half days, if you didn’t get in that Catherine Tramell head state you would have wanted to blow your brains out.

I knew my diver was wearing a knife on his leg because he knew that we had the possibility of these kinds of things happening. I knew he’d get me out and I knew I had a spare air under my seat. I’m also a rescue diver myself. But I have to say there was a moment when I thought “oh my God”! Although, as an actor, you don’t want to blow the take, or do it again, because that’s a big set-up; it’s another 45-minute set-up because the car is coming out, you have to dry your hair and everything has to be reset. I wanted to keep cool throughout the take and not show that my foot was caught. So I kept telling myself not to panic because I’d use more air and just try and get my foot out. So I was scared but I wasn’t thinking I was going to die because we had an astonishing rescue team.

What makes Catherine Tramell tick? Does she have any redeeming values?

We have this children’s show in America called Mr Rogers’ Neighbourhood and he used to say “there’s no one you couldn’t love if you understand their story”. I always think of that when I break down a character – you may not like them but you have to start out essentially loving them to surrender yourself to them. Sometimes you surrender yourself and parts of yourself that you love and have worked hard to become.

The hard thing for me about playing Catherine Tramell is that I have to surrender my compassion because she doesn’t have any, at all. She is a mirror of human behaviour. She mirrors behaviour and shows you your shadow side and then asks you ‘what do you want to do with that’? Now people with integrity use their shadow side to become more interesting, complex, full people. But people without integrity use it to become criminals. So I think she is very redeeming in that when she stands in front of people who are full, whole people who aren’t in their integrity, she can make them become full, whole interesting people. She has a redeeming quality because people who are on a bad road, who don’t know what they’re doing, reveal that they’re on that road and they hate her. She’s an interesting character in that she’s a mirror, but she’s not a valuable person in life because she has no compassion. When a person is stumbling in front of her, she won’t help them.

Did you feel you were striking a blow for older women in that you’re still getting good, strong sexy parts because in the past there’s been a tendency for stars of a certain age not to get such parts?

Well thank you asking that question. I think that it’s so different from in Europe, where you have only to walk down the street and remember that you’re a woman. In America, we tend to erase women after 40. This is a period when I think women become their most interesting and sexual in a very different and alluring way. So I think that it’s just wonderful that this film explores the sexual dynamic of a woman in her 40s in an unabashed, provocative and colourful way. It’s gritty, dangerous and quite presumptive.

I’ve also just been doing this campaign for Dior for skincare and I think it’s also extraordinary that they’ve hired someone in their middle 40s to represent skincare. I think it’s a terrific phase that women are being complimented, noticed and seen as really sexually viable, beautiful and alluring. I’m incredibly complimented and grateful – not just for myself, but for other women in my age group that this page has finally been turned.

Are you happy with the end result of ths sequel?

I am happy with the end result. Like the first film, I felt when I did it that either it would work or I would be hanging my head in shame at the supermarket. I knew going into this that it was either going to be a fun, interesting thriller or a complete and total disaster. I think that I’m relieved to say that it’s a fun thriller.

Is there anything in Basic Instinct 2 to rival the impact of the leg crossing scene in the original?

I think we realised that we had a very impactful moment in the first film with that and in the second film people would be looking for things that were impactful and powerful. That’s why we had that very impactful scene in the beginning, which was really strong and everyone worked really hard on. Then when we moved through the film and created the very strong scenes at the end, I think we made some equally powerful and dangerous statements from Catherine Tramell about her ability to use her sexuality in another threatening and dangerous way. I don’t think we can imagine that we’re going to create another similar groundbreaking or shocking moment like we did in the first one, but what we did was to balance the movie with a certain kind of power and energy.

How have you changed as a person in the last 15 years? And how has your own sexuality evolved?

Well I’ve changed a lot over the past 15 years, just as we all have. We grow up, I’m a mum, I’ve had an incredibly life threatening experience and we grow from these things so much. If you think about 15 years ago, half of us didn’t even want to make our beds and yet now we have so much responsibility. I’ve grown and changed a lot, I think. I’ve developed, matured, settled down, have a lot more common sense. As for the second part of the question, that is none of your business!

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