Hollywood may be known as a land of dreams for aspiring actors. But for many, the road to success is littered with lots of nightmares, too.
And as Sharon Stone recounts in an excerpt from her new memoir, "The Beauty of Living Twice," one such nightmare arrived while she was making 1992's "Basic Instinct." Even if you haven't seen it, you've probably been briefed on Stone's police interrogation scene, where her ice pick-loving character uncrosses, then crosses her legs ... leaving nothing to the imagination.
According to Stone, 63, she only learned that she was flashing her genitals in the scene when she arrived to watch the final version of the film "with a room full of agents and lawyers, most of whom had nothing to do with the project," she says in a Vanity Fair excerpt from the book.
"That was how I saw my vagina-shot for the first time, long after I'd been told, 'We can't see anything — I just need you to remove your panties, as the white is reflecting the light, so we know you have panties on,'" she recalls. "Yes, there have been many points of view on this topic, but since I'm the one with the vagina in question, let me say: 'The other points of view are bulls---. It was me and my parts up there."
After the screening she said she slapped director Paul Verhoeven "across the face" and called her lawyer. The lawyer told her it wasn't "legal to shoot up my dress in this fashion."
TODAY reached out to Verhoeven for comment, but did not immediately hear back.
Verhoeven, says Stone, insisted she had no choice in the matter after all, and eventually Stone says, "I chose to allow this scene in the film. Why? Because it was correct for the film and the character; and because, after all, I did it."
In 2017, Verhoeven spoke about the scene with Empire magazine, saying "you would have to use a microscope to really know what you saw." He also insisted that Stone knew what was happening the whole time. "You cannot do that shot without somebody knowing. On top of that, she gave me her panties as a gesture of confidence," he said.
However the details ultimately played out, Stone has repeatedly said she was misled about what would and wouldn't be shown on camera. And in 2019 she re-created the scene (underwear on) at Germany's GQ Men of the Year Awards by striking a similar pose onstage and asking the audience to join in.
She'd been named Woman of the Year, but wanted to impart a lesson to everyone watching by doing the cross/uncross motion and letting them understand it was not empowering.
"I stand here as Woman of the Year, not as an individual, but to be with women and of women, and to be here in my grace and in my tenderness and in my dignity, and I want to tell you it was hard-won after I only did that," she said at the ceremony. "I want to say thank you for choosing me to be Woman of the Year, because there was a time when all I was was a joke."
Stone further reflected on what went down, revealing her response when people ask about her "days of being a superstar."
"It was like this. Play ball or get off the field, girl," she says in her memoir. "My work reflects the times when I did have the opportunity to collaborate with the good and great directors, and I sat at their feet, learning everything I could for the times ahead. For I was not the chosen one, not the golden gal, just the sex symbol who could sometimes get the key part if she also happened to be sexy.
"Then I did my best to make it count."