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Sharon Stone On New Memoir 'The Beauty Of Living Twice'

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NPR’s Michel Martin speaks with actress Sharon Stone about her new book — already a New York Times bestseller.


And finally today, Sharon Stone. For years, she was one of the poster women for classic Hollywood blonde bombshell glamour, famous for a controversial scene in one of the ’90s most controversial movies. But she is also an Oscar nominee, a mom of three, an activist who has quietly raised massive amounts of money and supplies for people living with homelessness and HIV/AIDS and other challenges. And she’s also the survivor of a stroke that nearly killed her, and as well, a survivor of some of the worst that Hollywood has to offer. Somehow, though, she’s managed to give voice to all of these lives in a funny, tender and at times shocking new memoir, which is already a New York Times bestseller. It’s called “The Beauty Of Living Twice.” And I asked her, after all she’s experienced, what inspired her to write this book now.

SHARON STONE: I wanted to, first of all, look at how I got myself into such a terrible position, certainly when I had a brain hemorrhage and a stroke and had to start my life over, when I had to learn to walk and talk and function and regain all of my abilities. And I lost my family, my career, my simple abilities to function. I had to start from the ground up. But when we have any crisis, we feel like we’re starting from the ground up. So we have to ask ourselves, how did we get in this position? And I did a deep dive asking myself that. And I came up with some big answers. But I also came up with some big questions of, where is the real help when you need to stand up?

MARTIN: Well, there’s this one scene in the book that I think has already gotten a lot of attention. It’s about your experience at “Basic Instinct.” And people can read the book, of course. And they can also read the excerpt that ran in The New Yorker where you break it down. The bottom line is that famous scene was filmed without your permission, and it was all six ways wrong.

STONE: Well, it wasn’t really filmed without my permission. I think that what happened – and I really do believe this completely in my heart – is that we filmed it, and what they told me they believed was true at the time. And what they got, they didn’t know that they had. But when they got what they had, they didn’t share it with me respectfully. And that’s all I want to say. And everything else is in the book.

MARTIN: Sure. But my question here is that there’s a continuum of things that you experienced and that other people continue to experience. Like, for example, you talked about the director who wouldn’t direct you unless you sat in his lap. Now, there are – people have been brought to account right now. People like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby are in prison – right? – because they have been convicted of crimes. But there’s this whole continuum of behavior…

STONE: There’s two guys. Can you believe that?

MARTIN: So that’s the question is that behavior that is on a continuum, that is disrespectful, that is abusive, but it doesn’t rise to the level of a criminal matter, like, how do you think about that right now? And how do you think we should think about that going forward?

STONE: Well, I do think we have to create a think tank that really addresses what is a crime, what is a felony, what is consent. And I think we have to have real thought-provoking addressing of these things so that we can – and we have to process all this stuff.

MARTIN: I am, though, interested in your sense of how to talk about these things, because on the one hand, you are very open in this book. On the other hand, it is hard. And it is painful. I mean, you talk about living twice. I mean, you had to relive some of these experiences to write it. And then you had to relive it in order to talk about it. And there was this one passage that really kind of stopped me cold, where you say, generation after generation, we will still be learning just how to talk about and deal with abuse without being abusive in our very discussions, sensationalistic in our interest, cruel with our concern. I just think that’s – it’s a hard – it’s hard. I don’t know.

STONE: It’s brutal.

MARTIN: I don’t know what to say about that because I understand – the whole interview piece itself is such a dance, right? On the one hand, if you don’t talk about things, how does it change? But then…

STONE: Well, certainly when I began to discuss this book, people were very triggered even by the book itself. And I think that people who didn’t even understand they were triggered were responding to me – an effort to control me because they were so afraid of what I might say or do because of their own either abuse or abusiveness. And that’s something that I had to take some time off. I had to take a couple of weeks off from the PR process so that I could understand and take a breath when people were addressing me, addressing the book, addressing the subject and the awkwardness and sometimes aggressiveness with which people were addressing me. I had to slow down and just give them some grace.

So we have to recognize that this is a very tender subject. We have to, I think, create think tanks of professional people and citizens that have been through this in their studies and in their training, but also people who have been through this in their life’s experience and then create real laws, real rules and real care about it.

MARTIN: How do you feel now that the book is out and now that you’ve had a chance to sort of process not just the experience of writing it, but also people’s reaction to it and the fact that obviously the public is responding? But how do you feel?

STONE: People have stopped being cold to me and thinking, oh, she’s just made of ice. She’s an object to see, but not to touch or feel. I think people see me and realize she’s been through the same [expletive] I’ve been through. And she sees me, and I see her. And we can meet in a place of tenderness. And for me, that’s made my world so beautiful, so remarkable, so special, meaningful. I just – I feel like, in the very, very difficult period of my life after the stroke where I felt like really no one understood what was happening to me, and I was so alone, I feel now like I’m just not alone anymore. I feel like there’s such a depth of warmth and perception and grace and – God, it’s good.

MARTIN: Well, thank you for that. And thank you for talking with us. And happy Mother’s Day almost.

STONE: Thank you. You too.

MARTIN: Got a houseful of boys. What does Mother’s Day look like at the Stone house?

STONE: Well, I have so many boys. And they’re all in puberty. And I’m in menopause. So it’s kind of a hormonal [expletive] show over here.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

STONE: And – but nobody really wants anything for our celebrations. We just want each other. We’re just so grateful. We feel really blessed and lucky because we had enough food. We had shelter. And we had each other. And we really recognized that everybody didn’t. And though we’ve lost a number of people, we didn’t lose each other. And we’re really feeling lucky.

MARTIN: No special waffles, though? No banana pancakes?

STONE: Well, we really love – Snoop Dogg made this cookbook.

MARTIN: (Laughter) OK.

STONE: He has this thing called Billionaire’s Bacon, and it destroys the oven. It’s just awful because you put brown sugar and black pepper and all this stuff all over the bacon. And you bake it in the oven. It makes a terrible mess. But it’s fantastic. It’s – and it’s just awful for you. But it’s – so that – I’m sure one of them will request the Billionaire Bacon, because that’s the favorite around here.

MARTIN: Sharon Stone is an award-winning actress and activist and philanthropist. Her new memoir, “The Beauty Of Living Twice,” is out now. Sharon Stone, thank you so much for talking with us. I so love talking with you. I hope we’ll talk again.

STONE: Thank you.

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