American actress Sharon Stone is arguably best known for her work in popular films like Basic Instinct as well as critically acclaimed efforts such as Martin Scorsese’s Casino. She is the recipient of several accolades, including a Primetime Emmy and a Golden Globe. Her latest project was the celebrated Netflix series Ratched, released in 2020, and further cemented her legacy.
In a 2018 interview, Stone said: “I want to work with Guillermo del Toro. I think that his innocent genius works for me. Because, frankly, I think it was my innocence that allowed me to work so well with [Basic Instinct director] Paul Verhoeven. Because, I’m not afraid. I don’t have that kind of fear about doing all kinds of things, because I have an innocence, I don’t have self-doubt.”
She added, “I’m really a good soldier. If I have a good general, I’m just great. If I have a really crappy leader, as I think we’ve seen in some of my films, not as great! Because there’s nothing to intuit. When I have a great director and great material, I know what I’m doing.”
On her 63rd birthday, we revisit Sharon Stone’s filmography as a tribute to her celebrated career.
10 best Sharon Stone films:
10. The Muse (Albert Brooks – 1999)
This 1999 comedy starred Stone as a Hollywood muse for a neurotic screenwriter (played by Brooks). Struggling to find inspiration for his work, he is introduced to Sarah (Stone) who completely changes his life. For her performance, Stone received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress.
Brooks explained, “The idea of something or somebody that is going to sit on your shoulder and guide you through this stuff. It’s so romantic and, obviously, it’s such an important part of the history of creativity, this idea of a creative guardian angel. The movie certainly tells you that it’s really in your own head if you believe that it’s true.”
9. Above the Law (Andrew Davis – 1988)
Andrew Davis’ 1988 action thriller marked the acting debut of Steven Seagal where he played the role of an ex-CIA agent caught up in a conspiracy. The film featured Stone as his wife and Pam Grier as his law enforcer partner.
Above the Law is notable for being the first American film to have Aikido in its fight sequences. Seagal was asked to make the film by his former Aikido pupil who was determined to make Seagal a star. Above the Law performed well at the box office, grossing over $18 million in the US.
8. The Quick and the Dead (Sam Raimi – 1995)
Sam Raimi’s revisionist western starred Stone as a deadly gunslinger known as “The Lady” who wants revenge for her father’s death. The film is also remembered for Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance as “The Kid” and it marked Russell Crowe’s American film debut.
Raimi revealed, “I got a call from Sharon Stone and basically she wanted me to direct this script starring her. So what man can say no to Sharon Stone? So I read the script and thought it was great – which rarely happens because most of the stuff I read isn’t really for me. Not my style. But this one was really well written and Simon Moore, the screen writer, had really taken it in a different direction.”
7. The Specialist (Luis Llosa – 1994)
Loosely based on The Specialist series of novels by John Shirley, the film stars Sylvester Stallone as a hitman who creates explosions in such a way that it only affects the target. Stone plays the role of a femme fatale who recruits him to avenge the death of her parents.
Although the film was a box office success in the US as well as internationally, it was dismissed by critics who considered it to be one of the worst films of that year. It is now considered to be one of the “The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made”.
6. The Mighty (Peter Chelsom – 1998)
Based on the book Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick, this 1998 coming-of-age drama tells the story of a 13-year-old boy suffering from Morquio syndrome. Stone plays the role of his caring mother who loves her son more than anything in the world.
For her wonderful performance, Stone received a Golden Globe nomination in the Best Supporting Actress category. It was well-received as a bittersweet drama, signifying a change from the kind of parts Stone was used to playing.
5. Total Recall (Paul Verhoeven – 1990)
Loosely based on a Philip K. Dick short story, Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 sci-fi thriller examines the distinctions between fantasy and reality. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a construction worker who gets involved in an interplanetary conspiracy. Stone features as his wife who tries to convince him to stop thinking about Mars.
The director said, “If I say that, for me, RoboCop is about Lost Paradise, that’s kind of exaggerated—but it’s something that, to some degree, is in the heart of the movie. And if I say that Total Recall, for me, had to do with fear of psychosis, that’s the same over-and-understated situation, yeah? It has to do with the fear—a basic fear of myself—that psychosis is a way my brains could go.”
4. Broken Flowers (Jim Jarmusch – 2005)
A charming vision of an ageing Don Juan, Broken Flowers stars Bill Murray as a retired computer magnate who visits his former lovers after discovering that he has a son. He starts his journey by meeting Stone, a widow whose daughter (conveniently named Lolita) tries to seduce Murray.
Broken Flowers won the Grand Prix, the runner-up prize at the Cannes Film Festival. “That was better for Jim,” Murray said. “He could win and not feel awkward. His victory was a bit off to the side. And he’s happier there.”
3. Antz (Eric Darnell, Tim Johnson – 1998)
The first work by DreamWorks Animation, Antz indulges in commentary about totalitarianism and mentally healthy by focusing on an ant colony. It focuses on a neurotic worker ant nicknamed Z (Woody Allen) who only wants to find himself.
He falls in love with the princess of the colony, Bala (voiced by Stone). The release of Antz created a feud with Pixar who believed that their idea for A Bug’s Life was stolen by DreamWorks.
2. Basic Instinct (Paul Verhoeven – 1992)
This 1992 neo-noir erotic thriller contributed immensely to Stone’s popularity. It stars Michael Douglas as a detective who gets romantically involved with the prime suspect of his murder case: an enigmatic writer (played by Stone).
“When you have [on your CV] one of the most famous erotic scenes in the world of cinema, it eclipses the film, which is a tense and psychological modern black film,” the director said.
“Nobody else could have done that job,” he added. “She can be very cruel and very charming, and she is able to change the look from one state to another in a second.”
1. Casino (Martin Scorsese – 1995)
Martin Scorsese’s epic crime drama stars Robert De Niro as a gambling expert who oversees the operations of a casino in Las Vegas. Stone features as a streetwise hustler who marries him and they have a daughter together. Casino is a grand exploration of how wealth and a life of crime slowly corrupt personal relationships as well as the inside of an individual. For her performance, she received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.
“I think for a long time people just did not know what to do with me. I looked like a Barbie doll and then I had this voice like I spend my life in a bar, and I said things that were alarming and had ideas that didn’t make sense. And finally, I got together with Marty and Bob and they were like, ‘Give it all to us, baby, just let her rip if you’ve got it, we want it, let’s see what you can do,'” Stone said.