What the Hell Happened to Sharon Stone?

Hollywood is a treacherous place.  It take a certain kind of person to make it as an actor.  But however hard actors have it, actresses have it that much worse.  For an actress to make it in Hollywood, well, they have to be strong.  Some might even say they need to be made of stone (get it?  I’m sorry.  I couldn’t resist.)  Whatever it takes to climb to the top of the A-list, Sharon Stone had it in spades.  She had the looks, the talent, the determination and she was more than a little crazy.

When Sharon Stone finally took Hollywood by storm, it seemed like she was an overnight sensation.  But that was not the case.  The truth is that Stone had a long uphill climb to the top.  She fought tooth and nail for years to make it in Hollywood.

Sharon Stone started off as a model and a beauty pagent contestant.  She was a contemporary of Michelle Pfeiffer.  The two models bonded while auditioning for the role of an extra in Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories.  Stone got the role.  But Pfeiffer’s acting career would take off while Stone’s languished.

Stardust Memories is one of Woody Allen’s favorite of his own films.  But pretty much anyone who isn’t Woody Allen hates it.  Although Allen denies that it was his intent, the movie plays like the director telling off his fans.

The image of a young Stone in glorious black and white blowing kisses from a train is a memorable one.  I also liked the bit where the aliens told Woody they liked his earlier, funny movies better.

Stone paid her dues the hard way. On Silver Spoons.

While Pfeiffer was paying her dues in Grease 2, Stone was relegated to guest roles on TV shows like Silver Spoons, Remington Steele and Magnum PI.  By 1985, Pfeiffer had done Scarface and Ladyhawke.  But Stone was still stuck on TV with parts on shows like TJ Hooker.

“I grope all the guest stars. Get used to it. Just don’t touch the hair!”

In 1985, Stone finally got the opportunity to break away from TV.  Unfortunately, it came in the form of a low budget action franchise that deliberately ripped off the Indiana Jones films.

King Solomon’s Mines was loosely adapted from the novel of the same name to capitalize on the success of Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Richard Chamberlain was cast as a poor man’s Harrison Ford and Stone played his love interest.

In a bit of a gamble, the producers of King Solomon’s Mines filmes a sequel simultaneously.  The double-down didn’t pay off.  King Solomon’s Mines flopped.

The following year, saw the release of Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold.  The King Solomon’s Mines sequel got all the fanfare you would expect for a sequel to a movie most people had never heard of.

Stone did get some recognition for her role.  She was nominated for her first Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress of the Year.  Ultimately, she lost to Madonna.  But I’m sure it was an honor just to be nominated.

When the Allan Quatermain films flopped in back-to-back years, Stone went back to paying her dues.  But at least she was paying her dues on the big screen.  In 1987, she appeared in Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol.

I know what you are thinking.  Police Academy 4?  Really?  Is that any better than Silver Spoons or TJ Hooker?

Well, before you get too judgemental, Police Academy 4 was the last film in the series to feature Steve Guttenberg.  If it’s good enough for the Gute, we shouldn’t be turning our noses up at it.  I’m sure we can all agree that the series didn’t fully come off the rails until Police Academy 5: Even the Gute Said “No”.

In 1988, Stone appeared in a couple of low budget action films I have personally never seen.  The first was Action Jackson.  Action Jackson wasCarl Weathers’ bid to turn his Rocky role into a legitimate movie career.  That went about as well as you would expect from a movie called Action Jackson starring Apollo Creed..

She also appeared in the Steven Seagal film, Above the Law.  Bearing in mind that I have never seen a Steven Seagal film that I have liked, I’m tempted to go back and try to catch this one.  It is generally regarded as one of the movies that made Seagal a star.  And director Andrew Davis went on to direct The Fugitive.  Of course, Davis also went on to direct the dreadful Chain Reaction, so maybe The Fugitive was just a lucky break.

Although Above the Law helped to catapult Seagal to stardom (or at least Seagal’s B-grade action hero version of it), it didn’t do a lot for Stone.  In 1989, Michelle Pfeiffer was wowing the critics in The Fabulous Baker Boys.  But Stone was still stuck in crap like Beyond the Stars and Blood and Sand.

Next: Total Recall and Basic Instinct

Posted on January 8, 2012, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actress and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 176 Comments.

  1. I was just watching Sharon in The Specialist tonight. It’s not great but it’s competently executed and watchable. It’s really a pretty standard Stallone action thriller, but with what I thought were overtones of “Body Heat”–the Miami setting, the vaguely noirish atmosphere, John Barry’s score.

    Reading your summary of Stone’s career as well as the comments, i was reminded of the quote usually attributed to Goldie Hawn (it’s actually a line spoken by her character in First Wives Club): “There are only three ages for women in Hollywood–Babe, District Attorney and Driving Miss Daisy.” Aside from Casino, and maybe one or two other roles, Stone seemed to have some trouble crossing the “Babe threshold.”


    • That’s a tough transition to make. Especially when your claim to fame is being a sex symbol. Kathleen Turner (since you mentioned Body Heat) was able to make that transition. I think a lot of that had to do with the mainstream success of Romancing the Stone in which she played a mousy romance novelist. But very few other actresses who are so associated with steamy roles are able to do so. In Stone’s case, it’s a shame. Because she developed into a very capable actress.


      • Yep, Turner definitely had crossed the threshold by the late 1980s. She had a run of great roles that decade. It certainly helped her that she displayed a knack for comedy, black comedy in particular. And then, as I’m sure you know as you did a WTHH piece on her, came rheumatoid arthritis. She’s apparently made a nice transition to becoming more of a stage actress, with multiple Tony nominations.


    • 15 Forgotten Sex Symbols From The ’90s: Where Are They Now?


      1. Sharon Stone

      Sharon Stone was Hollywood’s newest “It” girl when she played Catherine Tramell, a brilliant, bisexual, alleged serial killer, in “Basic Instinct.” She reportedly found it difficult to maintain her status in Hollywood following her success with “Basic Instinct” and, after her role in “Casino,” she had a string of box-office bombs. While Stone looks as though she hasn’t aged a day since her breakthrough role, her career hasn’t held up and she’s hardly the sex symbol she once was.


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