SHARON STONE is shameless. The actress considers it a skill to have no shame. She thinks everyone should try it, though she cautions that if you’re female, shamelessness can cost you. Her refusal to feel guilty, she says, has gotten her labeled difficult, or worse.
“I’m like a Prohibition-era flapper. I’m like a juke-joint hussy,” Stone says over lunch at an Italian restaurant near Beverly Hills. But better to be called names than to be pressured into not being herself. Feeling ashamed, she says, “is not an organic state of being, so shamelessness is closer to godliness. You have to put shame down.”
Minutes later, as if to prove her point, she responds to a question about the watch on her wrist by yanking it off and flinging it onto the cement patio. “That’s the Dior Christal,” she says of the pricey timepiece, made with sapphire crystals, that she’s just tried to kill (Stone says she often does this stunt, which “shocks people but is the reason I am so proudly Dior’s spokeswoman”). She crouches to retrieve her bauble, emerging with a big smile on her makeup-free face. “How about that? It keeps on ticking.”
It’s tempting to say the same about Stone herself. Life has flung her to the hard ground more than once in recent years: She survived a brain hemorrhage in 2001, a bruising divorce in 2004 and, in December, the loss of her 78-year-old father, Joseph, to esophageal cancer. But listen to her tick, tick, tick.
“I’m detached from my celebrity. I don’t need to be ‘it’ anymore,” she says, announcing with what sounds like relief that her days as “a great big movie star” may well be behind her. Not that she isn’t busy. In the spring, she shot a four-episode guest stint on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and headed to Europe to film the sequel to Largo Winch, based on a Belgian comic book series. Still, Stone has a point: Her last movie, Streets of Blood, went straight to DVD. But no matter. When I compliment her poignant portrayal of a hairdresser in Bobby, released in 2006, she pronounces herself happy to be seen no longer as a babe starlet but as “a very fine character actor.” Indeed, Stone reports she is happy with her work, her kids (she has three adopted boys, ages 10, five and four) and her sense of style (“I’m always going to wear leopard; leopard is a neutral for me”). Without sounding too “woo-woo”—a term she invokes when discussing her interest in Eastern -spirituality—she would like you to know she’s been thinking a lot lately about getting older, about womanhood and about lost love. What she’s concluded may surprise you.
“Life and love is like the ocean,” she tells me between bites of a Caesar salad. At 52, she is stunning up close—blue eyed, lithe and radiant in ripped jeans, a white T-shirt sans bra and a linen vest. “Sometimes the tide is in and sometimes the tide is out, and sometimes it’s like the frigging Mojave.” Where’s the tide now? “For me? Mojave! Fortunately, I like the desert. I’m a desert flower.”
Of course, a dry spell in Stone’s life can sound like a torrential downpour to the rest of us. For example, she acknowledges that since her divorce from former San Francisco news-paper editor Phil Bronstein six years ago, “I really get pursued by men in their twenties, like, a lot.” Her theory on why? “They probably know there’s food in the fridge and that somebody’s going to talk to them and ask them how their day was.”
But flattering as it is to be courted by men half her age, right now she says she’s going solo. “I’ve reached this period in my life when I feel particularly feminine,” she says, her eyes suddenly filling with tears. She is thinking of her father, who with her mother moved in with Stone seven years ago, after he received his diagnosis. “He was a very tough cat,” she says fondly, dabbing her eyes with tissues she’s retrieved from her bag. Watching a parent fight to live, she says, has changed her sense of self—in a good way.