“You know I don’t like to wear any underwear, don't you, Nick?”
Paul Verhoeven . 1991
“A lot of stars didn't want to considerit,” said the Dutch helmer Paul Verhoeven, “because it was about a bisexual killer, violence and explicit sex.”
“One of the most offensive scripts I’ve ever read,” said Greta Scacchi, famnloius for her sexual and naked screen toles. She once declared: “Fuckability is the common denominator in presenting ourselves... How fuckable we make ourselves look. Even the boys have to do it.”As if to prove that, some weeks before shooting, the film’s $5m star, Michael Douglas,shot off to the Mexico sun to “get beautiful.”
"When I was young,” said Sharon Stone,
“all I wanted to be was a movie star.”
Mariel Hemingway, Kelly McGillis and funny Catherine O’Haraactually auditioned.Others simply refused: Kim Basinger, Lena Olin, Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Roberts.And even the UK stage star, Emma Thompson. “As far as I can see from Sharon Stone’s love scene," she said after the fillm's release, " they moulded her body out of tough Plasticine. She was shagging Michael Douglas like a donkey - and not an inch moved. If that had been me, there would have been things flying around hitting me in the eye.”
An early idea was Pfeiffer and Mel Gibson - forthe bisexual novelist accused of an ice-pick murder and the burned-out San Francisco PD cop - when the Joe Estzerhas script was auctioned to Carolco Picturesfor $3m. Michelle, for one, wanted all nudity written out. The scripter said he deserved the huge fee as he’d spent spent years on the script. He later admitted that he’d kncked it out in 13 days. That worked out at $230.769. 234 per day.
Stonesaw her breakthroughasa very dark and twisted love story. “The character is, let's face it, kind of loony tunes. She's very intense, very, very controlling. But it's also a thriller, a two-box-of-popcorn movie.”
A dangerous, sexy thriller, said co-star Michael Douglas, more so than his previous hit, Fatal Attraction. Then,he kept adding, “some of it has to do with redemption.”Oh really!
The directormaintained it was all about evil... Although, he added, “as an artist, as a director, it's sometimes better not to be too clear with yourself about what you're doing. Otherwise you might be pushing too hard. In traditional films, the killer lurks in a house and the victim walks into the kitchen, turns on the radio, makes coffee, opens a book, gets comfortable - and then the killer strikes. In this film, the killer hides - but on the bed. The situation is the same, but the two people are facing each other in bed, not the kitchen.”
The tawdry film, as we all know, made Sharon Stone a sensation - and A Star. Not so much due to her naked sex simulations, but by the simple expedient of crossing her legs during a policeinterrogation to show she was not sporting any underwear. In various interviews, Stonesaid was trapped into the scene. Hardly as she, like us, knew she had not put any panties onwhile dressing in the previous scene... unless we were expected to believethat she had somehow addressed that deficiency in the police car with Michael Douglas on the wayto the nick..
Kelly Lynch, however, said the script she was given (Verhoeven’s not Estzerrhas’) actually contained a diagram about the famous flash... which was, in reality,a tame, blink-and-you-miss-it moment. It was not, for example, Marushka Detmers, Sylvia Kristel, Carole Laure or Catherine Wilkening in Europe. Nor Claudia Koll in Tinto Brass’ Cosi fan tutte that very year.Nor Rosario Dawsondispensing with pants and public hair in Danny Boyle’s Trance in 2013.
Either way, Douglas sitting on his $15m salary - and his no full frontals clause - was not happy.
“I’m the star of this movie.
And she one-ups me at every turn.”
Catherine Tramell . For the pivotal role, the deadly, bisexual ice-pick killer,Carolco strangely looked to Hollywood’s past, in particular to three films that had previously required not a deadly, bisexual ice-pick killerbut asexy heroine - a teenage castaway forBlue Lagoon, 1979, a mermaid called Madison in Splash, 1983 andand thegang rape victim in Accused, 1987.
In the running for Catherinefrom those three lists were: Rosanna Arquette, Ellen Barkin, Bridget Fonda, Jodie Foster, Melanie Griffith, Daryl Hannah, Mariel Hemingway, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kay Lenz, Tatum O’Neal, Michelle Pfeiffer (she also passed Sliver and Casino to Stone),Kathleen Turner, Debra Winger.
Oh and Sean Penn was the only guy seen fromtheBlueLagoon, Accused lists.
Also considered (for a finished total of 60 actresses compared to some 19 guys!) were: Isabelle Adjani (she later joined Stone in turningther re-made Diabolique into as dog’s breakfast), Joan Allen, Nancy Allen, Stockard Channing, Patricia Clarkson,Glenn Close, Geena Davis, Laura Dern, Farrah Fawcett, Linda Fiorentino, Carrie Fisher, Helen Hunt, Holly Hunter, Diane Keaton, Nicole Kidman, Christine Lahti, Jessica Lange, Heather Locklear, Kelly Lynch, Andie MacDowell, Madonna (she did her own version, Body of Evidence, the next year), Lena Olin, Annette O’Toole, Annie Potts, Julia Roberts, Mimi Rogers, Isabella Rossellini (she’d also been thought hot enough for 9 1/2 Weeks), Greta Scacchi, Sissy Spacek, Mary Steenburgen, Meryl Streep (what were they smoking at Carolco?),Sigourney Weaver, Robin Wright.
Dutch film-maker Paul Verhoeven saw them all... usually running away from him.
Even Stone, who was seriously considering job-retraining as her career was going nowhere. “I thought I might go to law school. Do some writing. Maybe teach acting.” She said she understood why established stars didn’t wish to accept an unlikeable character. (The No Brigade were not complaining about likeability). “The challenge,” asserted Stone, is being likeable when you’re this awful! If you can do that, you’re in business. Anthony Hopkins certainly did that in Silence of the Lambs - you couldn’t wait to see him in another scene. But that’s not the Hollywood mechanism. If your goal is to be a huge star, Basic Instinct might not have been the best career choice.” (Oh no?!). “If your goal is to expand yourself as an actor, it was the break of a lifetime. I told Paul: If you’re going to shoot it like real sex, you can count on me to do whatever you want.”
As for the others...
Kim Basinger’s agent said: “Let’s face this right now: You have to be nude and do love scenes and full-frontal nudity - yes or no?” “And I knew,” said Kim, “I couldn’t do it.” So she then passed Sliver to Stone, as well.
Geena Davis also lost Sliver. Producer Robert Evans made sure of that. He kept telling Stone's agent he was thisclose to deal with Geena. Because he knew Sharon apparently loathed Geena for making Stone a mere second choice for Verhoeven’s film. Stone did not want Sliver, said Evans, “but she sure in hell didn't want Geena to have it.”
Farrah Fawcett said much the same and kept her clothes on until Dr T and the Women, 2000, at age 46.“That was different, it was justified, it made sense. She was vulnerable and suffering, and also, it’s a Robert Altman film and his characters are always interesting. It was gutsy, hard - and definitely worth it.”
Linda Fiorentino’s breasts tdid not appeal to the Amsterdammer. "Too small." They were, however, perfectly fine for Venezuelan auteur Temistocles López’s sexy Chain of Desire, a La Ronde for the AIDS age.
Mariel Hemingway was a far too obvious choice as she had already shown off her newly siliconed breasts as the murdered Playboy playmate Dorothy Stratten in Star 80, 1983. (Her plastic surgery won her the role).
Jennifer Jason Leigh had worked with Verhoeven before - nearly naked in 4-below freezing temperatures while being raped in Flesh and Blood, 1985. “This time, he thought I was too young and thought Sharon Stone isn't much older, she looks like a woman.”
Greta Scacchi explained it best. “There was no way I could have coped with playing… a character who was, essentially, a male heterosexual’s lesbian fantasy. I thought that offensive.” The following year, she refused Robert Altman’s (alleged) orders during The Player: “Take your knickers off and do what you’re paid to do.” (As Fawcett did in Altman’s Dr T...).
Kay Lenz, Eastwood’s Breezy, wanted the role.
The Dutchman wouldn’t hear of it.
Kelly Lynch never thought it was sexy enough, “It didn’t get me off,” said the delicious blonde from Cocktail and Drugstore Cowboy. “Critics would’ve thought I was slumming... going for the money. Whoever did that part had to embrace it because there was very little besides the camera taking advantage of you and being lit, dressed and coiffed by the best.”She did, though, consider the sequel.
Kathleen Turner, the previous season’s Hot Stuff was replaced by the new.Again. (She had been beaten by Stone for King Solomon's Mines, 1985, and also lost 9 1/2 Weeks, to Kim Basinger in 1986).She was inevitable thinking, being the sexiest lady in Hollywood. For an hour.She claimed to have refused $1.5m because “if the part doesn't work for me,I turn it down.”
Nick Curran . Verhoeven had first considered a RoboLover as the homicide cop -the first Robocop, Peter Weller. Carolco preferred Richard Gere or Jeff Bridges. Beaten by Douglas to Fatal Atraction, 1987, Wall Street, 1989, andTraffic,in 2000, Gere was Stone’s husbandfor Intersection, in 1993.
When De Niro passed, Hollywood wags suggested if only Catherine had been black... (By 1995, he was married toStone inCasino),
Also considered: Jeff Bridges,. Nicolas Cage, Kevin Costner, Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones and the Lost Panties?), Tom Hanks, John Heard, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Dennis Quaid, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta... and Bruce Willis, who had his own abysmal nude romps - plushis penile version of crossing legs - in Colour of Night two years later with an 18-years younger Jane March.
Oh, and defying any ageist thinking, Nick was also aimed at both Charlie Sheen (26)and his father Martin (51)!
Footnote: In herrevenge for being “trapped” in the first film (which onlymade her a global name), Sharon Stone refused to reprise Trammellin the (tawdrier) sequel. MGM immediately called up Ashley Judd and Demi Moore.And, my goodness, who was that rushing back into the fold - and sitting in leg-crossing mode on the poster? All thatfor an obvious flop before one scene was shot...
After all: What could she do for an encore?