SHARON STONE is an award-winning actress who's been largely out of the public eye for several years due to a life-threatening illness. Now, she's looking to restart her career, while enjoying both home and motherhood.
Lee Cowan has our Sunday Profile:
Sharon Stone's home has that sweet smell of old Hollywood. "This was the Montgomery Clift property. And I'm sure that then Elizabeth Taylor and Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner and all of those great people were over here swimming," she said, "and I just wanted to keep it. I wanted to preserve it."
Not that she's old, mind you -- she's just shy of 60, and looks more like 40 -- and hers is hardly the lonely mansion from "Sunset Boulevard."
It echoes with the chaos of kids -- Stone's three adopted sons, ages 11, 12 and 17, make sure of that.
As a single mom, there's isn't much time for reflection. But if there's a place for peace, it's by that pool under her Angel's Trumpet tree. "I talk to my tree … it's pretty fabulous, it smells so great," she told Cowan.
Does the tree talk back? "It kinda does," she replied.
Life does talk differently than it used to, ever since a serious brain hemorrhage she suffered back in 2001 nearly took it all away.
"There was about a five percent chance of me living," she said. It affected her speech, hearing, walking, writing, reading.
"Did you have to sort of start over and relearn all of this?" Cowan asked.
"Yes, everything, everything. My whole life was wiped out."
It didn't matter she was an Oscar-nominated actress (for Martin Scorsese's "Casino"), one of the most talked-about of the '90s -- after her stroke, in the eyes of Hollywood, Stone says, she was considered damaged goods.
"Others aren't that interested in a broken person," she said.
"So you just felt alone in a lot of ways?"
"I was alone."
She tried to go back to work, but there was a frailty she never felt before. "I'm sure I seemed peculiar coming through this all these years, and I didn't want to tell everybody what was happening because, you know, this is not a forgiving environment."
So that's where Sharon Stone's been all these years -- recovering, being a mom, and putting her life back together after her second divorce. "I just was not the girl who was ever told that a man would define me. It was, that if I wanted to have a man in my life, it would be for partnership. It wouldn't be an arrangement; it would be an actual relationship. And since those are pretty hard to come by ..."
Relationships? "Yeah, real ones," she said.
Her focus now, she says, is getting back to work -- reclaiming her place in the spotlight. The vehicle she's using for her comeback is "Mosaic," a Steven Soderbergh project that couldn't have been imagined back in the '90s. It's a whodunit where viewers can choose how they pick their way through the clues via a smartphone app.
"You follow it like a family tree," Stone said, "where your family tree branches out. And then you push where you want to watch. You see it from different people's point of view."
[HBO will soon release it as a traditional six-part miniseries, for those who don't feel like being tech-savvy.]
Stone plays a famous children's author looking for love with plenty of willing suitors, who all become suspects when she mysteriously disappears. She thought the role had something to say about relationships that was unique and powerful -- especially now.
"We were raised to accommodate men, particularly in my generation," she told Cowan. "And women so often lose their own identify to the identity of the men that they're with. They even change the way they dress and what they do to fit the men that they're with."
Things are changing, she says. She joined others on the Golden Globe red carpet this past week, with her son, Roan in tow, wearing black in solidarity with those highlighting sexual harassment and gender inequality in Hollywood. "We're starting to acknowledge our own gifts as women and not think that we have to behave as men in order to be empowered or powerful or valuable," she said.
"I don't know how to ask this in a delicate way, but were you ever in a position like that, that you felt that you were uncomfortable?" Cowan asked.
She laughed, and laughed.
"You're laughing, but I don't know if that's a nervous laugh, or an Are-you-kidding-me-of-course-I-was laugh?"
"Oh, I've been in this business for 40 years, Lee," she said. "Can you imagine the business I stepped into 40 years ago?"
"That's why I asked..."
"Looking like I look, from Nowhere, Pennsylvania? I didn't come here with any protection. I've seen it all."
Her journey through the business started as you might expect, as a model. She had just what photographers were looking for -- even if she thought she didn't always fit in. She said, "I always thought I had the worst body."
"Seriously? You did? How is that possible?"
"In those days everybody was reed thin, so everybody was nine feet tall and two pounds!"
She had a more "athletic build," as she calls it -- and her first big movie role, opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Total Recall," put that athleticism on full display.
And yet, Stone says there was still something standing in the way of stardom. "No one thought I was sexy. And probably, I'm not, or wasn't. But I was smart enough to realize that I had to seem sexy."
So she decided to pose for Playboy -- a calculated move that helped her land perhaps her most provocative role, in "Basic Instinct." You don't have to remember the plot to remember that scene.
Cowan asked, "Do you get tired of that scene following you around, even to this day?"
"You know, people think they saw so much. But I, too, have a pause on my remote control. There's not that much to see!"
She proved she could be sexy, but sex was not the selling point of the part, she says. In fact it wasn't the point at all. "That character is a sociopath," Stone said.
"But a very sexy sociopath," Cowan offered.
"But for her, sex was just another tool."
Just as she willed her way into that role, she's willing her own comeback, engineering it in a way that doesn't ignore her time away, but uses it.
"The well that I'm now bringing back to work is not a well I had before," she said. "I'm so grateful to have this. The chance of my having it was so slim!"
If it's meant to be she says, it'll be. But from the looks of it, Sharon Stone has already made the most at her second chance at life.
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