Vijay Amritraj: It’s wonderful to see you looking so glamorous as always. But, is that a lot of pressure when you go out... can you put on your warm-up suit and run up to the grocery store?
Sharon Stone: In Beverly Hills, we are used to seeing so many celebrities on a daily basis that it helped me to handle a simple, relaxed life here. When I was a child I thought I am going to be a movie star and live in a house where you walk in and there is a spiral staircase and now I live in that house and I am a movie star. The more I made the steps forward, the more calm and relaxed I felt. I remember the day Basic Instinct opened in Cannes, and as I stepped on to the red carpet I could hear like thousands of people screaming my name, going ‘Sharon Sharon’. I looked around and I was like ‘wow’!
VA: You were voted one of the 25 sexiest stars by Playboy magazine...
SS: No one thought I was sexy! I was more academically motivated and had never been a sexy kind of girl. Only that I was friends with a woman who was the editor of Playboy magazine, I had a chance to visit the Playboy mansion. It was (Hugh) Hefner who said, ‘Why don’t you do Playboy, you should do that?’ which I eventually agreed only if my editor friend would do the interview.
VA: 1990 proved to be a game-changing year for Stone when she landed a role in Total Recall. Share some experience of working with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
SS: I trained so much for that movie to get in such unbelievable shape. I did karate, I did weight-lifting. I did everything because I had a fight scene with Arnold. I had to look like I was tough. I learnt a lot from Arnold. I learned how to be fit and be prepared on set. He is a superb professional.
VA: And then came the big box-office break opposite Michael Douglas, playing Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct! When you read the script, did you right away know that ‘I’m Catherine Tramell’.
SS: Yes. My manager for 26 years broke into someone’s office and stole the script! I had heard about it but no one wanted to give it to me. I read that script and I thought this is unbelievable, this is the greatest character I’ve ever read. They started offering it to stars who started turning it down. I had to loop Total Recall and they kept asking me to come in and loop it during the day. But I said I can’t but I could come in at 6.30 on Tuesday or something so that I could come in a cocktail dress in character as Catherine Tramell, as I saw her. Paul (Verhoeven, the director) said ‘I am doing this movie and I would test you for it. But no one thinks that you have the talent or the ability to play the part!’ So Paul tested with me and then they kept testing people. And Paul made this agreement that every time they tested someone, they’d run my test and the person would have to beat my test. And here we are!
VA: What were you thinking at that point after Basic Instinct?
SS: ‘It’s true, I’m fabulous. Everyone loves me at last, thank god. It’s happened, it’s amazing, yay!’ The thing that happens first moment you become famous where you’re like ‘Oh, it’s great, it’s so exciting, it’s so wonderful, it’s exhilarating’. And then it doesn’t stop. And you’re like, ‘Oh hell! Oh no! Really!’ It’s like too much sugar, then you get really excited, then you get really scared. It is like a rocket, it’s great but there is no landing. You are on a rocket, you stay on the rocket, never get off the rocket, you live in space.
VA: Is it something you wanted to do after movies that, as you were talking about, influence people just for a minute, for example like hosting the Nobel Peace award in Oslo?
SS: They said to me ‘Do you want to host this Nobel Peace prize concert and if you do you can take your co-star and you can stay for a week and be involved with all these previous Nobel Prize winners.’ To sit there with Muhammad Yunus and the moment I met him, I said I would like to hug him because I felt such affinity with him.
VA: Have you ever been to India?
SS: No, I have not been to India…I can’t come to India for just 2-3 days because India is such a big place. I want to go to Jaipur, I really have to see more of India. And, I have to see the Ganges, because I am a Buddhist. I have also asked His Holiness’s (The Dalai Lama) people to try to schedule it together so that he could be a part of this.
VA: Your take on Bollywood movies, have you seen any?
SS: You know I got the Bollywood Humanitarian Award, so of course I wanna be in a Bollywood movie!
VA: Do you think you’ll be able to do the dance routine?
SS: Of course I do. And, I can learn anything. How fun is that!
Dimensions with Vijay Amritraj is aired on CNN-IBN every Saturday at 10pm (repeats on Sunday at 6pm)