In two months time Sharon Stone will be 60, and she’s still as beautiful and as alluring as she was 26 years ago when she uncrossed her legs in Basic Instinct. But what separates her from other femme fatales is her elegance. She’s still one of the classiest dames around. After a decade of being written off by Hollywood, she’s making an amazing comeback, starring in Steven Soderbergh’s ground breaking new HBO mini series, Mosaic.
At her Hollywood Foreign Press Association press conference, Stone can barely contain her enthusiasm for working with Soderbergh and the other professionals involved in the series. But then, unwittingly, she reveals something quite startling, that just a few years ago she was at death’s door!
You’re about to turn 60, yet you look absolutely fabulous. What have you learned about life at 60 that you didn’t know at 40?
Well, I didn’t know that you can’t “wife” away problems. I didn’t know that you can’t fix a broken marriage. I didn’t know that no matter how good of a partner, or wife or spouse or whatever, it doesn’t mean you are going to have a good marriage or a good life. I didn’t know I was going to have a stroke and a nine day brain hemorrhage which changed my life forever. I didn’t know that I would be really, really grateful that I would get to be 60.
Talk about your stroke? What exactly happened?
I had a 5% chance of living at all, let alone regaining all my faculties. When I came home from the hospital, I could barely move; I was walking on the tops of my feet.
I couldn’t see out of my left eye, and I couldn’t hear out of my left ear, because when my vertebral artery – which is the right artery that feeds my brain – ruptured, it ruptured with such force that the blood flow hit the nerve that feeds my ear and my eye.
They didn’t know it because the first angiogram they did they missed it. And so for years I would lose vision in my right eye, and it would just start to go dark, and I would pretend that it wasn’t happening. I would have these purple glasses that helped.
I was at AMFAR (Foundation for AIDS Research) in Cannes once and as we were getting ready, I lost my vision in my right eye. I just didn’t know what I was going to do as I was conducting the auction. Then, my friend Mimi said she would stand in front of me and she would wave when there was a bid on that side of the room, so I know to turn my head. So, I was able to do the auction though blind in my right eye.
How long did it last?
It took years for my feeling to come back in my left leg, and the doctor who ultimately saved my life – who is now the director of the Barrow Neurological Institute in Arizona – told me when they nicked the nerve and did the second angiogram, my feeling came back. Meanwhile, my hip was still unstable. I would stand up and start to falter. But finally it all came back, my vision, my hearing, I had lost my directional hearing, but it came back for the most part.
You sound like a medical miracle.
I am just so blessed right now. Three years ago I couldn’t write my name. I couldn’t get my arm to listen to my mind. So, I had to learn to read and write and speak. I had a stutter and no one knew why.
But then my amazing doctor, Dr Hart Cohen found that I had a brain seizure condition, and he was able to figure it out pretty rapidly, and that is why I was able to present an Oscar with John Travolta, because he found this medication that stopped the seizure activity and stopped my stuttering. I still take that medication every night.
But why was it all kept a secret?
I never wanted to tell anybody because I thought I would never work again if people knew what I was working back from. And it took about seven years for it all to get straightened out, and so it’s been a big victory for me.
To be able to shoot 30 pages a day and to have a director like Steven Soderbergh choose me for a big part and Marty Scorsese choose me for a part, and working with Paolo Sorrentino, all of these great people, it makes me feel like I’m truly blessed.
How old are your kids now?
Laird will be 11, Quinn 12, and Roan 17. They are all doing well. All three of them were adopted, and my two younger ones are birth siblings with the same parents. And when I told them that a few years ago, that was really a big moment in our family.
My oldest, who used to live with his dad, but now lives with us, is going to school here and is doing beautifully. So all this makes me feel like it’s the right time to work again.
As a single mother with three boys going through puberty, how comfortable are you discussing sex?
Well I am pretty open with my boys, and I answer any question they ask, because I figure if they are asking, they are ready for an answer.
(For example) I tell him what he needs to know what a hook up means? And if it means they are having sex, then the boy has to speak to the person the very next day. And he doesn’t send a text. He has to call the girl and tell her he enjoyed her company, thank her for that, and “whether we hang out anymore or not, I was happy to hang out with you”.
No texting, no e-mailing, no FaceTiming. You have to have real contact with anyone that you hooked up with, whatever that hookup entailed; respectful contact. And of course condoms must be used.
How old were they when you were that frank with them?
I have discussed safe sex with my children since they were about 10. And frankly I’ve been horrified to see some of the texts that come across my kids’ phones – girls half naked, just shooting Snapchats of themselves,
I mean, mums, please, look in your kid’s phones, crack their codes, and take a look, because it is astounding some of the things that are coming across my boys’ phones. I crack down right away, and when those girls come over to my house, I take the girls to my library and I talk to them, and my sons hate it. They say, “Why do you have to embarrass me?”, and I say, “Because embarrassing you is a part of my job”.
Does it ever concern you that you could have another stroke?
I am not at all concerned about having another stroke, even though my grandmother died of a stroke and my mother since has had a mini stroke. I have extremely natural low blood pressure and low cholesterol and all of those kinds of things, so I am not at all concerned about it. I am super healthy. I don’t do too many kooky activities although I still ride horses, because it’s the one thing I really love and I don’t want that taken away from me.