Actors make physical transformations for roles all the time; it’s what they do.
Still, Sharon Stone — who at 55 still looks unnervingly like the sleek, blonde, leg-crossing femme fatale she played two decades ago in Basic Instinct — appears shockingly dark, severe, ungainly and almost unrecognizable in Lovelace in theaters now.
“ Nobody recognized her,” says Amanda Seyfried, who plays Stone’s daughter, the Deep Throat star Linda Lovelace in the film. “Harvey Weinstein, if I remember correctly, did not know that Sharon Stone was in it. She’s that good.”
But Stone says that while she’s happy people are shocked, they may not realize that she also had to transform herself to play that uber-sexy Basic Instinct role back in 1992.
“It’s funny, because when I played Basic Instinct, everybody thought I was playing something closer to myself,” Stone said in a recent interview. “But in fact I totally transformed myself to play that character. I didn’t know how to go around looking like that.”
Of course, Stone added, “It was more fun to continue to look glamorous and closer to that part — obviously I’m not going to go out and look more like this character, Dorothy Boreman, because I don’t want to! But I’m not anything at all like that part, and I’m not like this part.”
In any case, she’s enjoying the reaction. “I like it because I feel, like, I did it!” she said, her voice lowering to a conspiratorial whisper. “Oh, I really did it!”
Stone has a history of surprising people, off screen — with occasionally controversial red-carpet comments — and on. She surprised herself by earning the 1996 Golden Globe for Martin Scorsese’s Casino, beating out heavyweights like Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon and Emma Thompson. (She also received an Oscar nomination for her admired performance as a high-priced call girl.)
She remains a Hollywood fixture — a red-carpet favorite and a formidable fundraiser for AIDS research — and Lovelace co-star Seyfried praises her as an on-set mentor.
“I wanted to be so good for her,” Seyfried said. “I was terrified that I was going to do my job poorly. But … she just said the right things. She helped me. She slapped me into the role.”
Seyfried was speaking metaphorically and literally: At one point, mother slaps daughter. Another scene is even harder to watch: Lovelace’s mother refuses to allow her daughter to return home and take refuge from her physically abusive husband.
Stone, a single mother of three sons, said she focused on the intentions of her character.
“I think that my character felt she was being a good parent by guiding her daughter into keeping her commitments,” she said. “I think in that time, and from her ethical standpoint, she felt that keeping her commitment as a wife, growing up, staying in a mature marriage … that was giving her daughter good advice. This was a different era.”