The diva shares her Hollywood and horrible experiences in her bold memoir
Sharon Stone’s memoir The Beauty of Living Twice is unlike other autobiographies by Hollywood celebrities; for one she doesn’t rely on photographs despite being one of the most beautiful women to grace the screen. Secondly, she talks about everything from her personal life to her Hollywood career without holding back anything, and that’s something not everyone does in Tinseltown.
The title The Beauty of Living Twice refers to the near-fatal stroke she suffered at the height of her popularity, and it’s the best place to start the memoir as well. How she managed to stage a comeback from the stroke, who helped her in her recovery, and what were the many steps she took to regain her career is what makes this memoir worth your time.
She dedicates the book to her mother and discloses that at one time she had no idea why the woman who gave her birth was so cold towards her. When she realized that she herself was a survivor of childhood abuse – things started to become clear, and that’s what brought her closer to her mother who was there for her when nobody else was. She also talks about her father and reveals that while he used to beat his children, he stopped as soon as she yelled at him in her youth. She declares that he was a changed man after that, and till his death, a few years back, was there for her every step of the way.
Her trip down the memory lane also brings forth her most horrible experiences; she claims to have been harassed in the playground, in her high school, and in her first job at McDonald’s, but nothing matched the abuse she faced at the hands of her maternal grandfather. She describes him as a monster for both her sister and herself and sympathized with her grandmother who was helpless around her husband. She discloses that their hardship ended only with his death, which is why neither she nor her sister cried at his funeral.
And then she entered showbiz, hoping that she would move on from the childhood abuse, but she landed in Hollywood toxicity, something she had to endure for ten years as the top actress. She doesn’t name names here but reveals that during her tenure as ‘the’ Sharon Stone, she came across many individuals who couldn’t take no for an answer, and tried to keep her away from the limelight for she didn’t acknowledge them the way others did. The hints are always around, and many times the readers just know who she is talking about.
If you are a Sharon Stone fan, then you would want to know all there is to know about how she was chosen for Basic Instinct, the film that made her a Hollywood star. In the diva’s own words, she made it her mission to be cast in the film, and when her Total Recall director Paul Verhoeven finally cast her, she gave it everything she had. Despite the one controversy that erupted from the film, it was any young actress’s dream role, and Stone cashed on the opportunity.
Why did it take her a dozen years to hit the big time, how did her acting coach Roy London influence her career, and why she chose to raise millions for HIV/AIDS patients across the world are some of the questions she answers in this book. She opens up about her failed relationships and marriages for the first time, besides explaining some of her decisions that were caught on camera, and became viral for all the wrong reasons.
The readers who want to know more about her failed and forgettable ventures would be disappointed, as she devotes the highest number of pages to the brain hemorrhage that nearly killed her in 2001. After all, it kept her away from the limelight for two years and she had to consult multiple doctors to get back to her old self, both physically and mentally. It was in those two years that her (adopted) son was taken from her, but she recovered, adopted two more sons, before being reunited with the eldest one, and credited a financially viable deal that kept her stable for many years.
Yes, there were many controversies during her career that she talks about in this book, beginning from the famous interrogation scene in Basic Instinct to the comments that saw her getting banned in China. She also talks at length about the spiritual guides such as Dalai Lama and humanitarian Mata Amritanandamayi aka Amma, people who were there when she was in need of a shoulder to lean on.
While talking about the major happening in her life, she doesn’t lose the warmth and grace she displayed onscreen. Be it winning major awards or refusing to give in to ‘bully’ producers, she discusses all without holding anything back. The chapters in which she mentions how her Total Recall co-star Arnold Schwarzenegger made her give her best to the fight sequence, or how John Travolta made her dance on Oscar stage, after her recovery, is something to cherish.
She does jump around her timeline which might confuse the reader, but since she was at the top for a dozen years only, the jump should be given a miss. There are some instances mentioned here that even her ardent fans didn’t know of; it was Sharon Stone who paid for a young Leonardo DiCaprio’s wage after he was rejected for The Quick and the Dead; she was the one behind Sam Raimi’s selection as the director and Russell Crowe as cast the main lead on her insistence.
On the whole, The Beauty of Living Twice is written as if the author is having a conversation with the reader. She explains her career decisions, her successes, her failures and reveals a lot of information from her past, also explaining how she has grown from a sex symbol to a symbol for unapologetic women around the world. However, she does surprise them with some incidents that seem out of this world, such as her brief hospitalization in Africa in the 80s, her refusal to believe the doctor’s diagnosis after the stroke, and listening to her grandmother’s life-saving advice, despite knowing that she had been dead for 30 years.