Movie Interview by Neils Hesse
PHASE9 interviewed Sharon Stone and David Morrissey at the London press conference.
Sharon, can I ask you first, even by the belated standards of sequels 14 years is a heck of a time. Now I can’t believe that after your first couple of enormous weekends on the first film a sequel wasn’t mentioned almost immediately. Why has it taken so long?
SHARON STONE: We had to gather experiences for Catherine Trammell. A lot of things happened in the meantime, we started thinking of making a sequel, the company that made the original had many changes, the studio that had the rights to it was going to sell then not going to sell and so on. I left the business and I came back, so there were a lot of things that happened along the way.
But 14 years is a long time do you have any doubts about ever doing the role again?
SHARON STONE: Well I can’t say that it was always on the top of my mind. Along the way I made a lot of other movies, had children, had another life and this wasn’t probably central to my thoughts.
David, you liked the first movie I gather.
DAVID MORRISSEY: Very much so, yes
SHARON STONE: He was my biggest fan and he stalked me the whole time.
DAVID MORRISSEY: I did yeah
David there must have some surprise at being approached for this sequel and also at it being made here?
DAVID MORRISSEY: I never questioned that. The script came along and like any film you read the script and you judge it on that. I read the script and I loved it, I thought it was fantastic, it was a privilege to go up for it. Then I met Michael Caton-Jones and I met Sharon in LA, all the way along I was thinking that I hope I get this job. When it happened it was just a pleasure from then on. I take each job whether it’s a sequel or not on the strength of the script, it was a cracking script and we just got on with it.
Sharon, did you have any say in the casting of the lead man and if so what made you go for David?
SHARON STONE: Gee, look at him! Michael and I thought that it should be someone new, extraordinarily talented, smart and I personally thought that it had to be someone gorgeous!
DAVID MORRISSEY: And then they couldn’t get him so they got me instead!
SHARON STONE: And witty, someone who had a really weird sense of humour because we think that the movie is kind of weirdly funny, kinky. Michael looked for people then he asked me about people and we agreed to test some people which we did. It was a really interesting thing because every person was great, it wasn’t like, oh gee nobody’s terrific, every person was great. So it was a question of what kind of movie should it be? Should it be a movie where the guy is this kind of guy, [or] that kind of guy. But when David walked in just this kind of, I don’t know if you’ve seen the film yet, have you seen the movie?
So you know there’s this kind of rubber band tension, unspoken sort of dialogue. It was like that when David came into the room. We laughed. We had this weird humour. We had this sort of weird, tension, goofy, sparring thing and Jesus look at him! So we were like yeah, it was just clear, he was the one.
Sharon, I don’t know whether this is a fashion question or a life and death question. In the production notes it says that due to the four-inch heels which you were wearing when you had your little moment with Stan Collymore, you almost drowned. Was it as scarily dramatic as that when your heels got stuck in the grating of the car?
SHARON STONE: Well there’s two things I’d like to say. First of all working with Stan was so extraordinary. He is the loveliest, the most chivalrous, the most charming and the most professional person and because of that when this incident happened I felt very confident that we would get out of it. But it was frightening because the kind of shoe that I had on was a sandal with unbuckled ankle strap. So it wasn’t the kind of shoe that I could take off. I knew that it was dangerous going in because the floor had a metal grating so that the water could come up through the floor and given that we really did drop that car into a giant tank there was just no kidding around. We actually did that about 170,000 times over like four days or something, we were underwater in that car. If you didn’t get into that Catherine Trammell head space you would have just wanted to blow your brains out. I knew that my diver was wearing a knife on his leg because he knew that we had the possibility of these kinds of things happening, so I knew that he would get me out and I knew that I had a spare air [tank] under my seat so I knew because I’m a rescue diver, I’m a paddy 80 foot rescue diver myself. So even though I don’t rescue dive in four-inch heels and a beady dress, or that whole rig, also I had been through the training all over again that morning but still I have to say there was a moment where I was like, oh my God! But of course as an actor you just mainly don’t want to blow the take, you don’t wanna do it again, you don’t want to re-drop that car because that’s another 45 minutes set up. That’s coming out, drying your hair, resetting the car, putting all the divers back in, it’s a huge deal. So I wanted to keep cool throughout the take and not show that my foot was caught in the thing, so I just kept thinking you know don’t panic because you’ll use more air and just try to get your foot out and so yeah I was worried. Also going through my mind was can I really pop the top off the car, you know because at that point my door was sealed, because you seal in one door so that you can shoot in one side or the other. I was scared but I wasn’t thinking, “oh I’m gonna die!” We had an astonishing rescue team, they were right in front of me, I could see them right in front of the window and all I had to do was signal to them to cut the take and they would have been in helping me get the top off the car.
Sharon, could you tell us a little about what makes Catherine tick, does she have any redeeming values or things about her?
SHARON STONE: Do you get MR ROGER’S NEIGHBOURHOOD over here? No, well we have this children’s show in America called MR ROGER’S NEIGHBOURHOOD, it was on television for 40 years and it was a lovely show. His name was Fred Rogers, and he used to say that there’s no one you couldn’t love if you understand their story. I always think about when you break down a character, you might not like them but you have to start out essentially loving them. You have to surrender yourself to them, and sometimes you surrender parts of yourself that you love and have worked hard to become, the hard thing for me about playing Catherine Trammell is that I have to surrender my compassion, because she doesn’t have any at all. She is a mirror of human behaviour and she mirrors behaviour and shows you your shadow side, then asks you what do you want to do with that? Now people with integrity use their shadow side to become more interesting, complex and full people whilst people without integrity use their shadow side to become criminals. She is very redeeming in that when she stands in front of people who are full, whole people with integrity she can make them become interesting and complex. She has a redeeming quality because people who are on bad road reveal that they are on a bad road and they hate her for that. So she’s an interesting character in that she’s a mirror, but she’s not a valuable person in life because she has no compassion. So when a person is stumbling in front of her she won’t help them.
David you were quoted in the production notes as saying that the sexual boundaries were pushed back from the first film, so I wonder how daunting it was to play your part in pushing them back and Sharon with regards to those same boundaries. How far is too far?
DAVID MORRISSEY: I guess too far is when it suddenly becomes gratuitous from the story. Sex scenes, love scenes are like every other scene you do, they have to tell a story within themselves. As an actor you approach them in exactly the same way. They’re about “How does my character change within this story?” “What are they trying to achieve or get?” Do they lose something within the story or how does it move them on? So you look at sex scenes the same way that you look at any other scenes, just that you don’t have any clothes on. It’s important for me to look at the film as itself rather than look at the first one. One of the beauties of it being relocated to London is that the audience is slightly ahead of my character because they know Catherine Trammell, they’ve seen her, they’re up on her story and my character in the film isn’t. There’s a sense in this film that my character is on a journey and the audience are going, “Oh no don’t go there!” I think that’s one of the pleasures of seeing this film. It was important for me although I’m a big fan of the first film, you have to treat this film as it is. One of the beauties about the time between the first film and the second film is that you are able to do that in a better way. As far as the sexual content is concerned it would have been a bit weird of me to read BASIC INSTINCT 2 without thinking that I’m going to take my clothes, you can’t be surprised by something like that, it is a sexual thriller, both of those words and I think the film delivers that in spades.
SHARON STONE: I was thrilled when he took his clothes off!
DAVID MORRISSEY: There is a sense that the sexual content worked in the first film because it’s a great film and likewise in the second film. You may see some films that have sexual content and you don’t like it because you don’t like the film, you know it has to be telling a story all the time, you know it has to be serving the script.
David, when you auditioned did you have to take your clothes off as part of the audition?
DAVID MORRISSEY: Nobody asked me too, but I did anyway!
Sharon are you still in touch with Michael Douglas and if so have you talked to him about revisiting this film?
SHARON STONE: I am but I haven’t.
Sharon, would you?
SHARON STONE: No
Sharon, I wondered if you felt you were striking a blow for all the women of your age group in that you are still getting good strong sexy parts and perhaps women more generally and women in Hollywood as well, in the past were not able to get certain parts?
SHARON STONE: First of all thank you for asking that question. Yes I think that it’s so different in Europe where you only have to walk down the street and remember that you are a woman. In America we tend to erase women after 40 and I think that this is a period when women become their most interesting and sexual in a very different and alluring way. I think that it’s just wonderful that this film explores the sexual dynamic of a woman in her forties in an unabashed, provocative and powerful way, in a way that’s gritty and dangerous and quite presumptive. I have also just been doing this campaign for Dior for skin care and I think it’s really also extraordinary that they hired someone in their middle forties to represent skin care and I think it’s a kind of a terrific phase that women are being complimented, noticed and seen as really sexually viable, beautiful alluring and just basically seen in a way now. I am incredibly complimented and grateful not just for myself but for other women in my age group that this page has finally been turned.
Sharon, why do you think that there was really a need for a sequel to BASIC INSTINCT, seeing as the first one was such a big hit and also, are you happy with the end result?
SHARON STONE: I am happy with the end result like the first one I felt when I did it either it would work or I would be hanging my head in shame at the supermarket. I knew going into this that it was either going to be a fun, interesting thriller or a complete and total disaster. I think that I am relieved to say that I think that it’s a fun thriller and in this particular case I think we made it in such a beautiful environment with artisans from all over the world who really gave it their all. So we didn’t call it BASIC INSTINCT 2 we called it BASIC INSTINCT: THE EUROPEAN VERSION. So we looked at it as this movie where we could do it the way we really saw the picture and so we got to take it with this slant where we had a lot more freedom because we didn’t have the American box where we had to fit it in. So with the sets, costumes and really just with our thinking we had a bit more width with which to make this movie, you know kind of… I’m looking for the right word…
DAVID MORRISSEY: Liberation or should I say sex!
SHARON STONE: Yes that’s the word a little more sex!
David, you might be regarded as a newcomer in big movie terms, people probably know you and love from telly as an actor and as a director and you’ve recently made DERAILED with Jennifer Aniston and a film [THE REAPING] with Hilary Swank in Louisiana. Did you see this as a step up in career terms or is it just another piece of bigger work?
DAVID MORRISSEY: You recognise that you are on a bigger stage. You’ve stepped up onto a bigger stage.
SHARON STONE: Especially when he was nude.
DAVID MORRISSEY: How you approach a job is exactly the same. How you create character, what you do on a daily basis going to work doesn’t change whatever the media is – you know playing scenes in the same way. And I hope that always stays the same with one difference that is terribly draining with the dialogue is when it’s sunny they change the dialogue over here because there may not be enough money to wait for a sunny day. So those little things are different but there was no difference for me in the approach. I am obviously aware that I am in a big film so yes that bit is different.
Sharon, a website started posting celebrity sightings on maps, do you think that stalking of celebrities has reached dangerous levels?
SHARON STONE: I have to say that it’s unfair to answer that as a blanketing general statement because there are so many people who still do their job with integrity, but there are those who think that there are no rules. There’s a lawlessness about what they do because they have found a way to work outside the law, and to be very provocative, they are not journalists, they are not taking pictures of what’s happening they are provoking a situation and then taking pictures of what they’ve provoked. In that case those people are very dangerous, that is not okay and there has to be something created to corral that kind of behaviour. I think we are looking at two very different situations, journalists who take pictures of what’s occurring and people who create bad and dangerous situations and then take pictures of that.
Sharon, do you think that there is an equivalent scene in this movie to the leg crossing scene in the first movie?
SHARON STONE: I think that we realised that we had a very impactful moment in the first film with that and in the second film people were going to be looking for things that were impactful and powerful. So that’s why we had that very impactful scene in the beginning, it was really I thought very strong and we put a lot of effort and work into that to open the movie very powerfully. Then when we moved through the film and we created that very strong scene in the end, I think we made some equally powerful and dangerous statements from Catherine Trammell about her ability to use her sexuality in another threatening and dangerous way. I think that we can’t imagine that we’re going to create again similar groundbreaking or shocking moments like we did in the first one. What we have to do now is balance the movie with a certain kind of power and energy and I hope that we did that.
Sharon, from what you said about the opening sequence it was obviously very important in setting up the film. How important was Stanley Collymore for that sequence and from your very kind words earlier do you think he has a future in film?
SHARON STONE: I do think he has a future in films because he’s a really disciplined artist. What we went through was really difficult, you know I’ve done a lot of stunts in movies, but I’ve never done anything that was as difficult or demanding as that sequence, it was physically very difficult. It was difficult for us both to fit in that car, because we’re both really tall and it’s tiny, we had to fit in there with all of the lights and the cameras, the rigs that make it work. It was really difficult to be underwater as long as it actually took to roll and make those things work, so we had to learn to hold our breath for really long periods of time. Also it’s really daunting to have that drowning effect occur over and over again, it’s psychologically really oppressive. You can’t do that unless you are really partnering with someone that you trust, and we built such a solid bond of trust, we knew that we were each other’s life support, yes we had people outside the car but the bottom line was that we were each other’s life support to make that scene work and to literally survive doing what was a really dangerous stunt over and over again. You have to understand that when you are shooting a scene like that in a big tank there’s a tremendous amount of rigging inside the tank. Under the car, there’s a whole metal structure and there’s tons and tons of lighting equipment underwater inside the tank and just to get in your diving stuff, to prep for it and there’s an entire world of lights and equipment under the water and you’re thinking electricity, lights under the water, that’s terrific, let’s just hope that doesn’t go wrong. Inside your head whilst you’re under there for days it’s very scary so I can say that psychologically it was tough and there is no one that I would have felt safer with, more bonded with, more a sense of professionalism or accomplishment than I did with Stanley. He was just fantastic.
Sharon over the past 15 years how have you changed as a person and how has your own sexuality evolved?
SHARON STONE: Well I’ve changed a lot, just like anyone of you has changed in the last 15 years, we grow up and I’m a mum. I’ve had as you know an incredibly life threatening experience and we grow from these things so much. If you think about 15 years ago, I mean half of us didn’t even want to make our bed, you know and now we have so much responsibility, we’ve changed. I’ve grown and changed a lot I think, developed, matured, settled down, have a lot more common sense and as for the second part of the question that is none of your business!
Ms Stone you’ve obviously given a great deal of thought as to what makes Catherine tick. Do you see any sort of future for her? Might we be seeing her in another 14 years time?
SHARON STONE: What I’m hoping now is that David will carry the torch and you can see him in the next sequel and I’ll go to the movies and go, “Yeah baby you got it!”
SHARON STONE: Thanks very much for supporting our movie and for coming here today.