For the 1995 film The Quick and the Dead, Sharon Stone was not only the star but also a producer and she fought tooth and nail for the project. Stone urged the studio not only to hire the young upstart Leonardo DiCaprio, but also to entrust the Simon Moore screenplay with director Sam Rami.
DiCaprio was hot off the heels of his career-launching performance in What Eating Gilbert Grape, he was only a year away from starring in Baz Luhrmann’s take on Romeo + Juliet, and two years away from entering the celestial realm of superstardom via Titanic, and yet executives were still not sold on the idea of giving him the role.
The movie’s official logline is as follows: “A female gunfighter returns to a frontier town where a duelling tournament is being held, which she enters in an effort to avenge her father’s death.” The gender twist on the classic western revenge tale landed Stone in a prominent position for its production and she explains in her new memoir, The Beauty of Living Twice, she used her powers to pay for DiCaprio out of her own pocket.
“This kid named Leonardo DiCaprio was the only one who nailed the audition,” Stone writes, “In my opinion he was the only one who came in and cried, begging his father to love him as he died in the scene.”
She had her heart set on casting the future star, but studios resisted, saying: “Why an unknown, Sharon, why are you always shooting yourself in the foot?’”. Although DiCaprio had bagged an Oscar nomination the previous year, so calling him an unknown is highly questionable on the studio’s part, he was still largely inexperienced.
“The studio said if I wanted him so much, I could pay him out of my own salary. So I did,” Stone concludes with a flourishing middle finger. The same battle had to take place to ensure Sam Rami was handed the directorial reigns as the famed director said he “would work nearly for free as an enticement.”
You can catch a trailer, featuring the classic line, “in a town called redemption,” below.