March 29, 2006 — -- Expect to see a lot of Sharon Stone -- and not just because she's on a publicity blitz to promote "Basic Instinct 2." Reprising the role of ice pick-wielding seductress Catherine Tramell simply requires a lot of nudity, she says.
It took 14 years for the sequel of the steamy thriller to reach theaters, and the first cuts were so steamy, they nearly garnered an NC-17 rating. While some of the spicier moments have been cut out, Stone, now 48, says the performance has to be sexy if she's to stay true to her character.
"It's like 'The Quick and the Dead," she says. "I was a gunslinger [in that film] and guns were [that character's] weapon. In 'Basic Instinct' 1 and 2, nudity and sex is the weapon. She's kind of like a sex-slinger and that's clear.
"It's clear in the writing. It's clear in the character. It's clear in the breakdown."
It wasn't so clear back in 1992, when she filmed that infamous interrogation scene, driving co-star Michael Douglas crazy with her short dress, suggestive leg-crossing and apparent lack of underwear.
Stone still claims director Paul Verhoeven misled her, and it took many years for her to come to peace with all the extra exposure.
As Stone recalls it, Verhoeven asked her to remove her underwear, and assured her that shadows would prevent the camera from showing too much.
"The scene was supposed to have the illusion that I did not have on underwear," she says. "I had on a white thong and he said that light was reflecting."
While reluctant to do so, Stone says the director showed her shots from the video monitor so she could see that she wasn't overexposed. Still, the final results were not what she expected.
"When I went to the theater and saw the film, you could clearly see I was naked," she says. "I was surprised because I was misled about what was going to happen."
"Basic Instinct" nevertheless turned Stone into a major star, and she subsequently earned an Oscar nomination for her turn in "Casino." But the ensuing years hardly turned out as she expected, with a string of disastrous projects, punctuated by such duds as "Sliver," "Sphere," and "Catwoman."
Stone blamed her sagging career on being typecast as a sexpot, but now she's defending her most famous work. "I think my performance has held up," she told Harper's Bazaar last summer. "That scene doesn't have impact because a woman uncrosses her legs, but because I'm good in it."
Indeed, "Basic Instinct" has endured as a landmark in popular cinema. Stone's sex scenes with Douglas were so elaborate and choreographed that they were once dubbed "the horizontal Fred and Ginger of the '90s."
It was always assumed that a sequel was inevitable, but the project hit numerous snags. First, the studio that produced the film, Carolco, went into bankruptcy. MGM bought the rights, and producers considered making a sequel on the cheap, without Stone.
When Carolco re-emerged from bankruptcy as C2 Pictures, Stone was back on board, but she was soon locked in a lawsuit, claiming studio heads reneged on a verbal guarantee of $14 million plus a stake in the profits.
The case languished until 2004, and then Stone was reportedly clashing over who should be cast to replace Douglas (Stone reportedly nixed Benjamin Bratt) and how the plot should unfold.
Now, David Morrissey co-stars, and in the new film, he's a psychiatrist hired by Britain's Scotland Yard to evaluate Stone's Tramell, who is once again implicated in a string of sex-and-dagger games.
Stone actually expressed disappointment that some of her spicier scenes had to be removed. "It's pretty easy for me to be naked," she says. "I'm a person who feels that if it's appropriate for the character I'm playing or the mood of the piece, then it's no big thing."
And as she looks to revive her career, Stone is crossing not just her legs, but her fingers.
ABC News Radio's David Blaustein contributed to this report.