It’s no secret that Hollywood is a hotbed of sleaze and abuse, but some stories still have the power to disgust. In her forthcoming memoir The Beauty of Living Twice, Sharon Stone reveals that several producers tried to pressure her into sleeping with her male co-stars.
Throughout the ‘80s, Stone’s burgeoning career was built around her looks, often playing the love interests of more significant male characters. It wasn’t until 1992’s notorious erotic thriller Basic Instinct that she became a household name, though, and her career became defined by sexuality.
This altered perception of her also translated off screen, where those in charge of several productions (whom she doesn’t name) decided that her having sex with the men she was paired against would amplify their onscreen chemistry. She had this to say about her reaction at the time:
“I felt they could have just hired a co-star with talent, someone who could deliver a scene and remember his lines. I also felt they could fu*k him themselves and leave me out of it. It was my job to act and I said so. This was not a popular response. I was considered difficult.”
As well as the vile nature of the request, what’s even more galling is the utter nonchalance with which it was evidently delivered, as though sexual abuse was just a part of the business, while also blithely disregarding that effectively acquiescing to being raped would, if anything, adversely affect a woman’s attitude towards a man rather than positively augment it. That it was merely considered “difficult” for a woman to refuse to screw someone she doesn’t want to is revolting, and demonstrates just how expendable and interchangeable the industry saw its females as, and to a large extent still does.
Sharon Stone was 34 when Basic Instinct was released, practically middle-aged insofar as Hollywood considers women, so it’s not hard to imagine the overriding presumption being that she should have been grateful to even be there when dozens of desperate starlets would have gladly taken her place and likely more readily accepted the abuse fostered upon them as the cost of achieving their dreams of stardom. This story is also far from the only angering aspect of The Beauty of Living Twice, and demonstrates just how far the movie world has to go to fully attain the respectability it purports to display.