At the age of 22, Sharon Stone entered the film industry with impressive acting talents that resulted in an incredibly successful career that has spanned decades. When she broke into the industry, she was cast in some of the most iconic mystery and thriller roles of the 1980s. Stone even landed herself a role in the iconic horror director Wes Craven’s 1981 slasher film Deadly Blessing. After approximately 40 years of experience as an actress, she continues to find success in acting, producing, and modeling. With an impressive filmography that now spans numerous genres, there is a wealth to pull from as we look back at her best thriller and mystery movies in celebration of her 63rd birthday.
Born on March 10, 1958 in Meadville, Pennsylvania, Stone grew up with academic talents that led her to attend Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. During her collegiate career, she became Miss Crawford County, Pennsylvania and received the honor of being nominated for Miss Pennsylvania. Her beauty and charisma led her to pursue a modeling career in New York City, and later Europe. It was there that she landed her first acting role in Woody Allen’s (cross yourself and spit twice) Stardust Memories. While it wasn’t a large role, it opened up all new avenues for Stone to explore as an actress. The following year, in 1981, she appeared in Wes Craven’s Deadly Blessing, but it wasn’t until she starred as Catherine Tramell in Paul Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct that she would reach mainstream success.
This erotic thriller premiered in 1992 and featured Stone alongside Michael Douglas as Nick Curran. It follows the police detective as he investigates the murder of a wealthy musician. While the case is complicated in its own right, Curran’s relationship with its prime suspect—Stone’s character, Catherine—makes for an even more intense tale of sordid romance and a love affair that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. The intensity of their romantic encounter and her nefarious characterization was so incredibly gripping that it captivated audiences worldwide and made Stone a household name. Since its release, Basic Instinct has been recognized for its groundbreaking depictions of sexuality, as sexual content was uncommon for mainstream Hollywood pictures at the time.
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Stone’s role in the movie led to her nomination for several awards, as well as securing her two wins: the MTV Movie Award for Best Female Performance and the MTV Movie Award for Most Desirable Female. It was such a resounding success that it even led to a sequel in 2006, titled Basic Instinct 2. However, it was not met with the same successes as its predecessor, leading Stone to receive the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress. It is important to note that Basic Instinct led her to be typecast as a sex bomb in Hollywood, while also defining Stone as an actress in the thriller genre.
Following Basic Instinct, Stone starred in numerous erotic thrillers, but none of them match the critical successes of Verhoeven’s film. In fact, most of her thrillers and mysteries are largely adored by fans, while being largely disliked by critics. Regardless of what critics have to say about these movies, the fans have spoken. A year after Basic Instinct, Stone starred in Sliver as Carly Norris alongside William Baldwin’s Zeke, Tom Berenger’s Jack, and Polly Walker’s Vida. It is a classic erotic thriller with a surprise twist ending. As crimes of passion sweep through New York City’s exclusive sliver building “113,” Carly must fight for her survival against a jealous lover.
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Jeremiah Chechik’s Diabolique may sit on the lower rankings of Rotten Tomatoes, but fans have found it to be an entertaining, as well as thrilling, film about a wife and mistress who are being stalked by an unknown individual. Sharon Stone stars as Nicole Horner who teams up with Isabelle Adjani’s Mia Baran to end the women’s suffering at the hands of their shared lover. While they’ve removed one threat from their lives, they don’t expect it to result in a new danger to arise. The psychological thriller situates Stone away from the erotic nature of the thriller genre and immerses her in the psychologically thrilling category; thus, showcasing that her talents span throughout the genre.
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In 1999’s Gloria, Stone stars as the titular character who has recently been freed from prison. After facing three years behind bars, she grapples with the fact that her boyfriend never came to visit her, despite evidence that her imprisonment saved him from taking the rap for the crimes she was convicted for. After requesting compensation, he refuses, which leads Gloria to take matters into her own hands. It is framed as being a thriller about a woman’s thirst for revenge, but quickly transforms into her internal struggle between saving the people she cares for while risking her own life and safety. Despite being known as a box office bomb, Gloria is beloved by fans.
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Most recently, Stone was given the opportunity to act as Lenore Osgood in Ryan Murphy’s Netflix original thriller series Ratched, starring Sarah Paulson as the titular character. Based on Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the series serves as a prequel to the book and movie, detailing Nurse Ratched’s rise to villainy.
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Sharon Stone’s character is a wealthy heiress who hires a hitman to take out the hospital’s leading physician for disfiguring her son. Her role is so impressive that it perfectly showcases just how integral Stone has been to the thriller genre since the 1980s. Ratched brings Stone back to her roots as a mystery and thriller actress with talents that only grow finer as the years progress.
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Happy Birthday, Sharon!