Sharon Stone opens up about her second chance in life and career as she turns 60
LOS ANGELES—A question about reaching a milestone—she turns 6-0 in March—led Sharon Stone to open up about her brain hemorrhage in 2001. She only had a 5-percent chance of living. The actress’ life and career were in serious jeopardy but she tried to be low-key about her illness.
On top of that, Sharon was coping with a second divorce, from newsman Phil Bronstein (she separated from her first husband, TV producer Michael Greenburg, in 1990). Bronstein got custody rights of their adopted baby son, Roan, with Sharon having visitation rights. On her own, Sharon adopted two more sons, Laird and Quinn.
“I didn’t know I was going to have a stroke and a nine-day brain hemorrhage, which changed my life forever,” Sharon said about her harrowing health challenges.
Sharon is excited to star in HBO’s “Mosaic,” available in two forms—as an iOS/Android mobile app and as a straight six-episode TV series that debuted in the United States on Jan. 22.
She’s excellent as Olivia Lake, a popular children’s book author and illustrator who dies under suspicious circumstances. Whodunit? Director Steven Soderbergh weaves an absorbing mystery-thriller with a cast that includes Paul Reubens (yes, Pee-wee Herman), Garrett Hedlund and Beau Bridges.
In this column, we let Sharon’s words speak about her inspiring recovery from the life-threatening illness. Here’s her story:
I didn’t know that I would really be grateful that I would get to be 60.
When I was 50, I felt so proud that I got to live and still looked pretty good. Now, I am just astounded, and it seems frankly old. At the same time, it’s just facing that I am going to be elderly and I made this decision at 40 like if I am going to be old, I am going to be old like a dancer.
The stroke and everything gave me a perspective about how I would be (laughs), which was the bigger thing. I didn’t know I would be coming back to work. When I started doing “Law & Order,” it was, of course, humbling and strange and all that, because I didn’t know how to do that after I had been starring in these big feature films and everything.
I had no idea how to run around as a guest star on a TV show like that. Doing “Law & Order” was hard. I didn’t know how to do those lines. I lost my photographic memory at that point. Now, I am back together. I can learn those 30 pages a day, get it all back, and I can work.
It’s very different now. It’s just so good to be a mom, and it’s great to see my kids grow up. I’m a single mom—all my boys are adopted—my two younger ones are birth siblings, and they have the same parents, and I told them that a few years ago, which was a big moment, of course, in our family.
My older son, who used to live with his dad, lives with us and is going to school here (in LA) and doing beautifully.
I feel like I have a lot of gratitude. I have all this good work coming up. And my kids are great, my health is great.
I had a 5-percent chance of living at all, let alone regaining all my faculties. When I came home, I was walking on the tops of my feet. I couldn’t see out of my left eye, and I couldn’t hear out of my left ear because my vertebral artery, which is the right artery that feeds my brain, had ruptured.
So, for years, I would lose vision in one eye, and it would just start to go dark. I would pretend that it wasn’t happening. I would often wear these purple glasses. I was at amfAR once in Cannes and, as we were getting ready, I lost my vision. I had a red Versace pantsuit and I thought, OK, I am going to wear that because I can’t wear a gown with purple glasses.
My friend Mimi said, I will stand in front of you and I will wave when there is a bid on that side of the room, so you can know and turn your head. I did the auction and I was blind in my right eye. Mimi kept running over where there was a bid so I would turn and know that there was a bid.
It took years for the feeling to come back in my left leg. The doctor who ultimately saved my life is now the director of the Barrow Neurological Institute in Arizona. He told me that when they nicked the nerve when they did the second angiogram, my feeling came back, but it was like I was stabbed in the leg. I was riding in a car and I got this stabbing sensation. It kept happening like that for about a year. My hip was unstable, and I would stand up and be unstable.
But, it all finally came back—my vision and hearing. I am just so blessed. I couldn’t write my name for almost three years. I couldn’t get my arm to listen to my mind. So, I had to learn to read, write and speak. I had a stutter, and no one knew why.
Then, my amazing doctor, Dr. Hart Cohen, who was Glen Campbell’s doctor, found that I had a brain seizure condition and was able to figure it out pretty rapidly. That was why I was able to present an Oscar with John Travolta.
Dr. Cohen found this medication that stopped the seizure activity and stopped my stuttering. I was seeing colors on the floor and the wall was undulating. The medication stopped that.
I thought I never wanted to tell anybody this because I thought I’ll never work again if people knew what I was working back from. It took about seven years for it all to get straightened out.
I have great gratitude that a director like Steven Soderbergh chose me for a big part (“Mosaic”). And that Marty Scorsese has chosen me for a part (untitled as we write this). I am working with Paolo Sorrentino. I am working with all of these great people.
I refound not only my own physicality. I got through this process because I kept working. I met Willie Nelson throughout this process…He said, “You have to do what you care about. You have a vocation and some people have jobs. When their jobs are done, your vocation will still be there.”
So, I just continue to do all the philanthropic work that I love so much. I made that my career. I am retiring this year from a lot of that, other than the work I do and plan for homeless people with my family.
I am going back to work. Going around the world and seeing people who are in far worse shape than I was, made me very strong.
So yes, I have some insecurity, too, but I also have a strength of character that I probably did not have before. E-mail email@example.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/nepalesruben.
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