Sharon Stone Slapped the Director Over Famous ‘Basic Instinct’ Scene: ‘I Called My Lawyer’

One of the most memorable scenes in modern film was when Sharon Stone’s character uncrossed and then crossed her legs in Basic Instinct.

Most viewers know the movie reference, as the scene’s been parodied, turned into memes, and immortalized in pop culture. At one point, Stone even poked fun at it in a Saturday Night Live skit.

But according to Stone’s upcoming memoir, she was misled on that famous graphic shot in the white dress, and she wound up slapping the director.

Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas in 'Basic Instinct'
Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas in ‘Basic Instinct’ | Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Sharon Stone wasn’t the first casting choice for ‘Basic Instinct’

Back in 2014, Sharon Stone appeared on Oprah’s Master Class, and she spoke about how other women were offered the role of Catherine Trammell before her in Basic Instinct.

“They offered it to 12 or 13 other women who turned it down,” she said. Two of those women were Julia Roberts and Michelle Pfeiffer, who reportedly had creative differences over the explicit sexual scenes.

Stone was cast opposite Michael Douglas in what would become one of the biggest roles of her career. Basic Instinct was controversial for its time — 1992 — with its erotic themes and violence, with some critics and moviegoers labeling it as misogynistic.

Behind the scenes, Stone herself was not happy with that shot up her skirt.

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Stone recalls slapping ‘Basic Instinct’ director Paul Verhoeven

Vanity Fair published an excerpt from Stone’s new memoir, The Beauty of Living Twice. In it, she discusses some of her experiences working in uncomfortable situations in Hollywood.

The first time she saw Basic Instinct, it was in room full of agents and attorneys, and Stone said “most of them had nothing to do with the project.” The director, Paul Verhoeven, was in another part of the room.

More than that, she wasn’t ready for the crotch scene. “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,’” Stone wrote.

She stated that many stories about this incident have been shared, but called them all “bullsh*t.”

“I had decisions to make,” wrote Stone. “I went to the projection booth, slapped Paul across the face, left, went to my car, and called my lawyer, Marty Singer.”

Stone’s attorney assured her the film could not be released as it was illegal to shoot up her dress in that manner. She felt relief but then thought about it more.

Stone changed her mind about ‘Basic Instinct’ scene

After careful consideration and a confrontation with Verhoeven, Stone changed her mind. She told the director what her attorney advised her, and he challenged her. According to Stone, Verhoeven told her she didn’t have any choices in the matter.

“But I did have choices. So I thought and thought and I chose to allow this scene in the film. Why? Because it was correct for the film for the character; and because, after all, I did it,” Stone recalled.

It’s not the first time Stone’s issues of consent came up. Paul Verhoeven denied Stone’s claims in a 2017 interview with ICON magazine.

“Sharon is lying,” he said. “Any actress knows what she’s going to see if you ask her to take off her underwear and point there with the camera.”

Verhoeven claimed that because he and his director of photography were Dutch, their attitudes toward nudity were more “relaxed” and Stone’s was not.

“But when she saw the scene surrounded by other [American] people, including her agent and her publicist, she went crazy,” he told the outlet. Verhoeven asserted that Stone’s team warned her about her career being ruined, and she wanted the scene removed. He said no.

Stone’s memoir also goes into detail about how filming Basic Instinct affected her mental health, and she writes about having nightmares and frightening sleep-walking episodes. The Beauty of Living Twice hits stands on March 30.