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The Real Reason Sharon Stone Says She Was Blacklisted by Hollywood in the '90s

"It did destroy my career. I didn’t work for eight years," the actor claimed.

Sharon Stone came to fame in the 1980s and '90s with roles in movies including Cold Steel, Above the Law, and Basic Instinct. But, around the time that she gave one of her most acclaimed performances, in 1995's Casino, she began speaking out about a topic that some deemed controversial. The star says that she was warned not to, and that this decision negatively impacted her career.

During a talk at the Red Sea International Film Festival in Saudi Arabia on Friday, Dec. 2, Stone opened up about her career and the important reason she put it on the line. Read on to find out more.

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Stone was asked to work with a vital organization.

Sharon Stone speaking at the Red Sea International Film Festival on Dec. 2, 2022
Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for The Red Sea International Film Festival

As reported by Deadline, Stone explained at the film festival that in 1995, she was approached about working with amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research. She said that her first work with the organization came when she was asked to fill in for their chairperson, another movie star, at the non-profit's Cannes Film Festival fundraising event.

"I had pretty big shoes to fill with Elizabeth Taylor at amfAR," the 64-year-old actor said. "When I was approached in Cannes, I was like, 'Can I take Elizabeth's place?'"

She knew it was risky.

Sharon Stone at the 2007 Berlin Film Festival
Denis Makarenko / Shutterstock

Stone said that she decided to go forward in working with amfAR even though she knew it could have a negative effect on her career.

She explained that her then-publicist, Cindy Berger, tried to talk her out of it. "She said, 'If you do this, it will destroy your career,'" Stone recalled. "At the time you weren't allowed to talk about AIDS. She got hives on her neck. I said, 'I know, but I am going to do it, you're gonna kill me.' She replied, 'And if you don't, I am gonna kill you.'"

Stone continued, "I had no idea of the resistance, cruelty, hate and oppression that we would face. So, I put on a hazmat suit and I had them show me it [the virus] under the microscope. I thought I really need to see this thing that is making everyone go nuts."

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Stone believes the work did "destroy" her acting career.

Actress Sharon Stone, charity auctioneer for AmFar, the Foundation for AIDS Research, during Fashion Week in Milan in 2012
Paolo Bona / Shutterstock

After the Cannes event, Stone continued to work with amfAR for years to come.

"I stayed for 25 years until we had AIDS remedies being advertised on TV like we have aspirin," Stone explained. "It did destroy my career. I didn't work for eight years. I was told if I said 'condom' again, funding would be removed. I was threatened repeatedly, my life was threatened, and I decided I had to stick with it." She added, "Now 37 million are living with HIV AIDS, living functioning and healthy."

That said, Stone did work during this time, but her career took a downturn with a string of critically panned movies. Still, she received Golden Globe nominations for 1998's The Mighty and 1999's The Muse. In 2001, she suffered a stroke that also had an impact on her career. "It took a long time to recover," she told USA Today in 2015. "Then, you have to dig yourself out in your life. You find yourself at the back of the line in your business, as I did. You have to figure yourself out all over again."

She doesn't regret supporting the cause.

Sharon Stone photographed in Milan in 2018
DELBO ANDREA / Shutterstock

In a 2019 interview with Allure, Stone talked about how her career and her philanthropic work with AIDS research intertwined.

"I thought that I had the power of being a powerful woman in Hollywood. But at that time, there was no such thing," she explained. "There were things in my contract—that I would supposedly have the power to choose my co-star, which was never true, the power to choose my own films, which absolutely was not true because my career was short and sketchy. It was a false power. I got to make a few movies, but mostly movies picked by men, written by men, sold by men." She added that after her stroke she "wasn't able to come back to the business, like a man."

"I was sent to the back of the line to do episodic television, to scratch my way back," she said.

Stone continued that she had "decided to use [her] fame for something valuable." When asked if this meant her work with amfAR, she said, "Yes, amfAR, but many other AIDS organizations. No AIDS organizations agree to work together because they all want to compete for the cure. It's as competitive as Hollywood."

She's still working in the industry.

Sharon Stone at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Party in 2020
Silvia Elizabeth Pangaro / Shutterstock

Stone is still active as an actor today. Some of her latest projects include the TV series Mosaic, Ratched, and The Flight Attendant, and the movies The Laundromat and Beauty.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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