March 20, YouTube Twenty-five years ago—on March 20, —Sharon Stone introduced moviegoers to Catherine Tramell, a novelist and suspected serial killer who stabs her victims with an ice pick while engaged in acrobatic sex acts. Michael Douglas—who starred in another erotic thriller, Fatal Attraction —played her love interest, a San Francisco detective named Nick Curran.
The much-delayed sequel, on the other hand, bombed at the box office. Here are 15 not-so-basic facts about the revolutionary thriller. Back in the day, spec scripts could sell for millions of dollars.
Eszterhas told The A. He was a great cop on one level, but on another, you suspected he liked it too much. As Catherine says in the movie, he got too close to the flame. He loved the flame. One night he picked the stranger up and they went back to his hotel room to have some fun. You wanted to come here, and as far as I know, you enjoyed what we just did. Verhoeven wanted to make a modern version of an Alfred Hitchcock thriller—except with a lot more sex.
The situation is the same, but the two people are facing each other in bed, not the kitchen. And the real question here is: Is anybody really worthy of redemption? I wanted to do it all at once. I wanted all the lights in the room turned off.
I wanted to just do it. When they turned the lights back on, you could have knocked Paul off his chair with a feather. So let's do that. Strangely enough, the shot of Sharon Stone spreading her legs was never a problem. Basic Instinct's most famous scene is undoubtedly the interrogation scene, where Stone notoriously crosses and uncrosses her legs.
But Eszterhas didn't write it. The scene has been parodied many times throughout the past plus years, including a bit with Douglas on James Corden. Instead of allowing the male law enforcement to intimidate her character, Stone played the role with confidence. These men put her in a position where she was alone in a chair in the center of an empty room—surrounded. That would be a very intimidating position to be in unless she disarmed them, which she did.
At the police station she could have been stricken and scared. Oh, so you want me to sit in the middle of the room here? You want to make sure you can look up my dress? OK, you can look up my dress. In , Eszterhas was diagnosed with throat cancer, and he lost a significant amount of his larynx. He wrote an op-ed in The New York Times in about the hazards of smoking, especially in the movies.
What we are doing by showing larger-than-life movie stars smoking onscreen is glamorizing smoking. What we are doing by glamorizing smoking is unconscionable. A cigarette in the hands of a Hollywood star onscreen is a gun aimed at a or year-old. There was something about the mystery of not knowing each other that lent itself to this situation.
If one were to believe in karma, I would say there is some karmic circle yet unfulfilled between the two of us. Our energy together was strong. It still isn't comfortable for me, but I think it works very well for our work together. But this is my intuition. Otherwise you might be pushing too hard. Thirteen actresses besides Stone were considered for Catherine, but only Stone was willing to do it.
Just as Catherine manipulates men, Stone manipulated the director to get the role. One day Verhoeven had her come in to dub lines for an airplane version of Total Recall, so she wore a tight Catherine-esque dress to demonstrate to Verhoeven that she could play the maneater part.
Eszterhas felt Verhoeven was compromising his script. It would make it into a bad TV movie. For a director to mumble these words is quite something; for him to hold a press conference is mind-boggling. I was just sitting there, mouth open, staring at the screen, listening to my heartbeat and wondering how long it would be before it was over, wondering who I should call first to tell them never to see this movie.
It was basic horror. There was no gray area. It was an all-or-nothing roll of the dice. So, yes, I thought of her when I did my part. I also thought of Judy Davis. I saw Impromptu regularly while I was making the movie, thinking, she has great courage.
I want to be like her. In Hollywood Animal , Eszterhas recounted the time he slept with Stone after the movie came out. Not because nailing her felt all that good it was okay. The couple got engaged but eventually Stone dumped him. On the plus side, Eszterhas swooped in and hooked up with Naomi; they are still married today. Basic Instinct had been the number one box office hit of the year … in the whole world! I felt I deserved her.