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Why Sharon Stone Was Never The Same After Basic Instinct

One of the most iconic movies of the 1990s is the 1992 erotic thriller Basic Instinct. It centers on detective Nick Curran (Michael Douglas), who's trying to solve a violent murder. Sharon Stone plays the seductive author Catherine Tramell, who is also Detective Curran's prime suspect for most of the film. Tramell uses her sexuality to mess with Curran, and they eventually start an intense (and borderline violent) relationship, all while Curran tries to crack the case.

Though Stone had been in several productions before her breakout role, her performance as Tramell both cemented Basic Instinct in movie history and secured Stone as a sex symbol of the '90s. She recently published a memoir entitled The Beauty of Living Twice, in which she details some of the most formative moments of her career. Some of the biggest revelations are from her time on the set of Basic Instinct, and the impact it had on her.

Sharon Stone thought she was a murderer

In her memoir, Stone confesses that she thought she'd really killed the actor her character murders in the first scene of Basic Instinct (via Vanity Fair). She explains that during the shoot, the actor she was working with (and pretending to stab with a fake ice pick) suddenly lost consciousness. "I began to panic; I thought that the retractable fake ice pick had failed to retract and that I had in fact killed him," she wrote, going on to describe how the intensity of the scene had made her feel faint, too. "I was horrified, naked, and stained with fake blood. And now this. It seemed like there was no line I wouldn't be asked to skate up to the very edge of to make this film."

Thankfully no one was actually hurt, and Stone's dedication to her performance was further proven with the plethora of awards she was nominated for. However, she was much less prepared for her most infamous scene in the movie.

Her most famous scene was a shock to her

Aside from the trauma of not knowing whether she'd accidentally killed someone on set, Stone also recollected how her now-infamous exposure scene was shot without her knowledge, which brings up serious questions about women in Hollywood and issues of consent. In her memoir, she details how she first saw the scene in which she was briefly exposed to the camera — though she had been assured that nothing explicit would show.

"After we shot Basic Instinct, I got called in to see it," she wrote. "Not on my own with the director, as one would anticipate, given the situation ... but with a room full of agents and lawyers, most of whom had nothing to do with the project ... It was me and my parts up there. I had decisions to make. I went to the projection booth, slapped Paul [Verhoeven] across the face, left, went to my car, and called my lawyer."

Stone was told the scene couldn't be included in the movie without major legal issues. It was, of course, included, and is arguably the on-screen moment Stone is best known for — though now we know it has a much darker truth behind it.

Basic Instinct showed another side of Sharon Stone

Though Basic Instinct made Stone a much bigger name in Hollywood, it was also challenging for her to play Tramell and get into the mind of a killer. "I can say that the role was by far the most stretching that I had ever done in terms of considering the dark side of myself," she wrote. "It was terrifying. I had walked in my sleep three times during production, twice waking fully dressed in my car in my garage. I had hideous nightmares."

Aside from the dark moments, Stone went on to describe how playing a character so unlike herself allowed her to tap into her own rage and struggles in a vulnerable way. "It was terrifying to look into the shadow self and to release it onto film for the world to see. To allow people to believe that I was 'like that.' Even more, to let myself know that I have or had darkness within. I can say that it was and is the most freeing thing I have ever done."

And while Basic Instinct had its negative impact on Stone at times, it ultimately allowed her to explore her artistry in a new way, and led to the successful career she deserves.