Sharon Stone was for years one of the poster women for classic Hollywood blond bombshell glamour, famous for a controversial scene in one of the most controversial movies of the '90s. But she is also an Oscar nominee, a mom of three and an activist who has quietly raised massive amounts of money and supplies for people living with homelessness, HIV/AIDS and other challenges.
She's also the survivor of a stroke that nearly killed her and as well, a survivor of some of the worst that Hollywood has to offer. Somehow, though, she's managed to give voice to all of these lives in a funny, tender and at times shocking new memoir, The Beauty of Living Twice.
"I wanted to, first of all, look at how I got myself into such a terrible position," Stone says. "Certainly when I had a brain hemorrhage and a stroke and had to start my life over, when I had to learn to walk and talk and function and regain all of my abilities — and I lost my family, my career, my simple abilities to function — I had to start from the ground up. But when we have any crisis, we feel like we're starting from the ground up. So we have to ask ourselves, how do we get in this position? And I did a deep dive asking myself that. And I came up with some big answers. But I also came up with some big questions, of where is the real help when you need to stand up?"
On the famous up-skirt scene in Basic Instinct and abuse in Hollywood
It wasn't really filmed without my permission. I think that what happened, and I really do believe this completely in my heart, is that we filmed it, and what they told me they believed was true at the time, and what they got, they didn't know that they had. But when they got what they had, they didn't share it with me respectfully. And that's all I want to say. And everything else is in the book.
I do think we have to create a think tank that really addresses what is a crime, what is a felony, what is consent. And I think we have to have real thought-provoking addressing of these things so that we can — and we have to process all this stuff.
On learning to talk about abuse without the discussion being abusive
Certainly when I began to discuss this book, people were very triggered even by the book itself. And I think that that people who didn't even understand they were triggered were responding to me and efforting to control me because they were so afraid of what I might say or do, because of their own either abuse or abusiveness, and that's something that I had to take some time off, I had to take a couple of weeks off from the PR process so that I could understand and take a breath when people were addressing me, addressing the book, addressing the subject, and the awkwardness and sometimes aggressiveness with which people were addressing me. I had to slow down and just give them some grace. So we have to recognize that this is a very tender subject. We have to, I think, create think tanks of professional people and citizens that have been through this in their studies and in their training, but also people who have been through this in their life's experience and then create real laws, real rules and real care about it.
On how she feels now that the book is out and people are reacting to it
People have stopped being cold to me and thinking, oh, she's just made of ice. She's an object to see, but not to touch or feel. I think people see me and realize, 'She's been through the same s*** I've been through, and she sees me and I see her, and we can meet in a place of tenderness.' And for me, that's made my world so beautiful, so remarkable, so special. So meaningful. I just feel like, in the very, very difficult period of my life after the stroke, where I felt like really no one understood what was happening to me, and I was so alone. I feel now like I'm just not alone anymore. I feel like there's such a depth of warmth and perception and grace and oh God, it's good.
This story was edited for radio by Michael Radcliffe and Tinbete Ermyas, and adapted for the web by Petra Mayer.