One of the most iconic moments of erotic thriller Basic Instinct sees Sharon Stone’s murder suspect Catherine Trammel expose herself to police officers by uncrossing and recrossing her legs, revealing the fact that she’s not wearing any underwear. It’s one of the most commented upon aspects of the film, often more frequently than the actual plot, but Stone is now claiming that she was duped into shooting it.
In her upcoming memoir The Beauty of Living Twice (in which she also recalls producers attempting to coerce her into sleeping with her co-stars), she recounts filming the notorious scene. After a take of Catherine’s interrogation, she was asked to remove her underwear and told that its white coloring was showing up under the lighting and thus ringing false that she was going commando, but was assured that nothing would be seen, whereupon she was filmed without her knowledge.
To make matters worse, the first she found out about what had happened was during a screening in “a room full of agents and lawyers, most of whom had nothing to do with the project.” After slapping director Paul Verhoeven, she contacted her lawyer, with whom she discussed taking out an injunction against the movie, as it violated rules set by the Screen Actors Guild for an actor to be filmed in such a way without their consent.
Despite dismissing Verhoeven’s stance that she was just an actress and thus had no power, in the end Stone decided to let the situation slide, reasoning that even though the manner in which the shot was attained was duplicitously sleazy, it fit both the film and the character.
Basic Instinct is, for better or worse, one of the most notorious movies of the ‘90s, while the scene in question has been endlessly referenced and parodied in the years since. However, it now stands as a testament to the disregard that Hollywood forces women to endure for the sake of practicing their art.