In Basic Instinct, Sharon Stone is at the center of what is regarded as one of the most famous and controversial scenes in Hollywood history. In the memorable interrogation sequence in the film, the actress is seen uncrossing her legs in front of a group of men to reveal that she is not wearing any underwear. During the scene, director Paul Verhoeven captured frontal nudity of the actress, and Stone has since alleged she was coerced and misled into flashing to the camera. The filmmaker has now responded to her claims.
Unfortunately, this is coming down to a ‘he said, she said’ situation. In Sharon Stone’s memoir The Beauty of Living Twice, which came out back in March, the 63-year-old actress shared her experience working on the film. She writes in the book that when the scene was filmed she was told to remove her white underwear due to it reflecting the light, and that the camera would not be able to capture her genitalia. Stone said it wasn’t until she was invited to privately view the film that she was made aware of the what was featured in the sequence. Here’s Paul Verhoeven’s response to her claims to Variety:
My memory is radically different from Sharon’s memory. That does not stand in the way and has nothing to do with the wonderful way that she portrayed Catherine Tramell. She is absolutely phenomenal. We still have a pleasant relationship and exchange text messages. But her version is impossible. She knew exactly what we were doing. I told her it was based on a story of a woman that I knew when I was a student who did the crossing of her legs without panties regularly at parties. When my friend told her we could see her vagina, she said, ‘Of course, that’s why I do it.’ Then Sharon and I decided to do a similar sequence.
There are clearly two very different versions of the story here. Check out Sharon Stone’s exact comment about the scene as written in her memoir:
After we shot Basic Instinct, I got called in to see it. Not on my own with the director, as one would anticipate, given the situation that has given us all pause, so to speak, but with a room full of agents and lawyers, most of whom had nothing to do with the project. 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.’ Yes, there have been many points of view on this topic, but since I’m the one with the vagina in question, let me say: The other points of view are bullshit.
Perhaps Sharon Stone thought the crotch shot would be implied in Basic Instinct when in fact Paul Verhoeven, also known for directing Total Recall and Robocop, planned to film her genitalia the entire time? There is certainly some miscommunication or falsification between one member of the pair that we cannot objectively identify because there are two versions of the situation being discussed.
In Stone’s telling of the events, she shared her disgust with the filmmaker, recounting that she slapped Paul Verhoeven across the face as soon as she viewed the scene. The actress said she went on to call her lawyer Marty Singer, who told her it was illegal to shoot up her dress in the first place and she could file an injunction. But at the end of the day, Stone decided to allow the scene to hit theaters and today her performance in it remains one of her most well-regarded.
Paul Verhoeven previously shared that the sequence was shot without the men you see in the room in the scene including Michael Douglas and Wayne Knight, who react to the shocking nudity reveal. According to the director this was at Sharon Stone’s request. This adds another dispute in the story of the scene at large, because if Stone wasn’t actually going to be flashing anyone, why the privacy? Either way, this is a serious Basic Instinct allegation being made about the filmmaker that remains unresolved following Verhoeven's response.