Today, nudity in film and television seems almost commonplace, but for stars of decades past, there have been real-life repercussions for even the smallest of glimpses.
Actor Sharon Stone, known for playing some of the most iconic femme fatales of the 1990s, said she lost custody of her son because of her role in the 1992 film Basic Instinct.
During a podcast appearance on Table for Two with Bruce Bozzi, Stone, 65, said judicial prejudice in her 2004 divorce case allowed for the movie to be “weaponized against her.”
While fighting for custody of her now 22-year-old son Roan — whom she adopted with her ex-husband Phil Bronstein in 2000 — Stone said the judge asked her son if he was aware his mother made “sex movies.”
The judge’s question was likely a reference to a since-iconized interrogation scene in Basic Instinct where Stone uncrosses her legs while seated.
“People are walking around with no clothes on at all on regular TV now and you saw maybe, like, a 16th of a second of possible nudity of me — and I lost custody of my child,” she said on the podcast released Tuesday. “Are you kidding?”
Though she was granted visitation rights to her son, Stone said the loss of custody contributed to cardiac issues that saw her hospitalized.
“I ended up in the Mayo Clinic with extra heartbeats in the upper and lower chambers of my heart,” she said. “It broke my heart.”
The biases against Stone for the fleeting nudity in Basic Instinct were also felt outside of the courtroom. When she was nominated for a Golden Globe in 1993, the room of moviemakers laughed as her name was called.
“It was horrible. I was so humiliated,” Stone recalled. “Does anyone have any idea how hard it was to play that part? How gut-wrenching? How frightening? To try and carry this complex movie that was breaking all boundaries and everyone was protesting against, and the pressure. I auditioned for it for nine months. They offered it to 13 other people and now you’re laughing at me. I just wanted to crawl into a hole.
“Now people walk around showing their penises on Netflix, but, in the olden days, what we were doing was very new. This was a feature film for a major studio, and we had nudity, sex, homosexuality, all these things that, in my era, were breaking norms.”
This is not the first time Stone has talked about the emotional toll of working on Basic Instinct.
In her 2021 memoir The Beauty of Living Twice, Stone said she was unaware of the nude scene until the film was viewed alongside agents and lawyers. She wrote that director Paul Verhoeven tricked her into filming the scene when he insisted her white underwear was reflecting the light on camera.
Verhoeven maintains a different account of filming the scene. In 2021, he told Variety that his “memory is radically different from Sharon’s memory.”
“That does not stand in the way and has nothing to do with the wonderful way that she portrayed Catherine Tramell,” he said. “She is absolutely phenomenal. We still have a pleasant relationship and exchange text messages.”
Stone has three adopted children. She later adopted Roan’s two brothers, Quinn and Kelly. Last year, Stone revealed she’s had nine miscarriages in her lifetime.