Sharon Stone: This heart of Stone

The actress cries on cue and cares about social injustice, but Gill Pringle still finds it hard to warm to the woman best-known for uncrossing her legs in 'Basic Instinct'

Sharon Stone is crying softly. There are, I am learning, several different Sharon Stones and, right now, I am being treated to the emotional, caring one, as she discusses her role in Bobby, an all-star ensemble piece that re-imagines the night that the presidential hopeful Robert F Kennedy was assassinated, in June 1968. Later, I will experience the cold, brusque Sharon when she expounds her opinions on world peace, and sundry other matters. Of course, we're all familiar with the man-eating Basic Instinct Sharon, as well as the dazzling red-carpet edition - that one's a life-sized Barbie doll that comes with a selection of outfits; the actress comes with a collection of very definite moods, instead.

It's a bravura performance that she's giving at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons Hotel. "We cry every time we talk about this movie," she explains through sobs, although its not clear who the "we" is. Stone seems to be referring to the Bobby director-writer Emilio Estevez, although Lindsay Lohan is snuffling in tandem at the end of the table. Later on, in the midst of her co-stars - Lohan, Elijah Wood, Laurence Fishburne, Demi Moore, Emilio Estevez and Helen Hunt - earnestly discussing Bobby Kennedy, Stone will, bizarrely, launch into a lengthy discourse about coats and shoes.

"[There are] people who are homeless. People who cannot afford a coat and so they're dropping out of school. Kids who are not going back to finish their senior year, kids who are not going back to high school because they do not have a coat to go to school... I've been working with a man at the Burlington coat factory and we've been doing these projects all over the Atlantic north-east because there's so much of this situation where children are leaving high school because they do not have a coat... So when you vote, you need to really think about what you see on TV and what's really happening. Because my family is out there putting shoes and coats on these kids who are not going to school because they really don't have them.

"That's what's really happening in America today," she concludes. You can almost feel the mute panic emanating from the assembled elite of Hollywood publicists.

Together with Anthony Hopkins, Harry Belafonte and Demi Moore, Stone was one of the first actors to sign up for Emilio Estevez's low-budget film, which follows the stories of 22 fictional characters at Los Angeles's Ambassador Hotel on the fateful night. The actress accepted a union-rate salary for her services. Estevez encountered a very un-diva-like Stone. "She said to me before we began filming, 'I don't care if I'm fat or thin, glamorous or unglamorous - I just love this role'," he recalls. "I think people will be surprised by her performance, where she's gone a little deeper than we've seen her go before."

Stone remembers that, when Estevez called about the movie, "I felt so lucky that he offered me the part of this lady who ran the beauty shop, and who got to interact with all these different characters and had such humanity". Her performance as Miriam, a hotel hairdresser and long-suffering wife standing by an unfaithful husband (played by William H Macy), is one of the best in the movie. Miriam's salon is a haven where Moore's and Lohan's characters feel free to pour out their problems. Has Stone ever bared her own soul under the ministrations of her hair-stylist? "Good Lord, no. I know better than that," she scoffs. "I would say I'm a person that people tell their troubles to, while at the same time, I've certainly had troubles of my own. Louis Armstrong sang it so well, 'Nobody knows the trouble I've seen'. I think we've come to a time when people have forgotten that character comes from standing through difficult times, and that, when you agree to stand by somebody, a relationship grows, and becomes richer and deeper when you grow through people's failures, not just their successes."

Her remarks, uttered with passion, appear incongruous in light of the demise of her five-year marriage to the San Francisco newspaper editor Phil Bronstein in 2003, in the aftermath of Bronstein's 1999 heart angioplasty, Stone's 2001 brain aneurysm, and the bizarre incident in the same year when Bronstein's toe was crushed by a Komodo dragon at Los Angeles Zoo. "So often now, people just turn their back and walk away when someone fails or changes," the thrice-wed actress (who has at least three adopted sons, including Roan, six, Laird, 20 months, and Quinn, nine months) continues, blithely. "And really good relationships, relationships that are rich and textured and alive, are the relationships that are built on acceptance and learning, and you accept and learn when people fail. Those are the relationships that have quality and dignity and growth, and I think if we can learn anything, it would be that. And when you're with a person for a very long time, I think you develop another language that isn't everything that's said with words." Stone was 10 years old at the time of Senator Kennedy's assassination, growing up in Pennsylvania. "I remember all of it," she sighs. "I remember when JFK was killed and Martin Luther King. It was so awful. I was asleep when Bobby was shot because it was the middle of the night for us on the East Coast. I don't remember how I felt. I think the Sixties were a time of turmoil and difficulty. For me, I was a very political kid, and I really remember the Vietnam War. You know, I was an artist, and a painter and a pottery maker, and a sculptor. I sold hot dogs at baseball games and we passed out political buttons. I was a hippie kid."

Today, as a woman who turns 50 next year, it must be said that she looks very good. "To look good starts from the inside, so you need to be honest. Lying can make you look bad. I don't use caffeine, I very rarely have alcohol. I believe in eating in moderation," she told People magazine last month.

In many respects, Basic Instinct in 1992 can be regarded as the centre of her career, the point from which 14 years of bad movies span in both directions. Prior to Basic Instinct she showed up in such stinkers as Police Academy 4, and continued to make lousy movies afterwards. If her stellar performance in Martin Scorsese's 1996 Casino earned a Best Actress Academy Award nomination, then it proved a mere blip along the way. Last year's Basic Instinct 2 perpetuate her 12-year string of bombs, a $70m (£36m) film that earned $5m at the US box office. It's possible that Bobby will break her losing streak.

"The nice part of this period in my life is that I'm getting more interesting roles all the time," she says. "There's lots of interesting parts right now."

'Bobby' opens on 26 January

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones