Sharon Stone Had To Pay Leonardo DiCaprio Herself To Get Him Hired In Early Role! WTF?!

So… we should all be saying a BIG thanks to Sharon Stone right about now!

In her new memoir The Beauty of Living Twice, the 64-year-old film star is holding nothing back, telling stories about her health struggles, her #MeToo moments, and — perhaps best of all — her stories of what REALLY goes on behind-the-scenes in Hollywood! This latest story from the memoir, which is available everywhere as of Tuesday, is a scorcher!

Hot on the heels of her star-making (and Golden Globe-nominated) turn in Basic Instinct, the next big movie she scored was 1995’s The Quick and the Dead, a fun, underrated Western notable for its quirky, madcap directing style (more on that in a moment) and for its fantastic cast that included Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe, and a little actor named Leonardo DiCaprio!

Sharon got her first chance at being a producer on the film, a role she says some actors just use as a vanity title, where they’re actually told to “shut the f**k up and stay out of the way” of the real producers. But that ain’t Sharon Stone! She writes:

“I won’t accept a vanity deal and let them know that up front. This is illegal, I say, and I like to work within the law. That gets a lot of silence and not a lot of joy on the other end.”

She describes fighting the studio on just about everything that makes the movie great. First, her decision to cast Gene Hackman — which is wild because he had just been in one of the greatest Westerns of all time, Unforgiven, and brought a ton of cred to the film.

But the biggest fight was casting the teenage actor to play Hackman’s gunfighter wannabe son. Sharon recalls:

“This kid named Leonardo DiCaprio was the only one who nailed the audition, in my opinion: he was the only one who came in and cried, begging his father to love him as he died in the scene.”

But the studio wasn’t having it, demanding of her:

“Why an unknown, Sharon, why are you always shooting yourself in the foot?”

Leo wasn’t the huge star he would be yet; he was one year away from becoming the biggest young heartthrob in the world thanks to back-to-back megahits Romeo + Juliet and Titanic. But he HAD already gotten nominated for an Oscar for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? He was obviously ready for a bigger role.

But the studio didn’t agree. As Sharon puts it:

“I can say that studio heads are not always ahead of the curve, to put it kindly. No woman star, and certainly not I, with my foot-shooting ideas, was going to be telling anyone what to do, whether I was a producer or not.”

In fact, they put their foot down and gave her an ultimatum, not thinking she’d call their bluff:

“The studio said if I wanted him so much, I could pay him out of my own salary. So I did.”

OK, first off… What. A. Baller. Move.

Second, she paid Leo on one of his first big movie gigs? That’s AMAZING! We imagine he would have made it either way, we mean, he’s Leo. But it was an important step on his way up, and without it who knows?

Amazingly, Sharon also championed Russell Crowe, who hadn’t been in an American movie yet; LA Confidential was also two years away. But after seeing his powerhouse performance as a Neo-Nazi in Romper Stomper, she knew he was the man for the job. The studio… not so much.

“They thought this was absurd. Why did I want a foreign actor who had played a bald psychopath to play a minister in a period piece in the Old West, someone we would have to push and wait two weeks for?”

Because he was Russell freakin’ Crowe, that’s why! In fact, the Gladiator star still credits Sharon with giving him his first shot in the States, telling Seth Meyers just last year:

“She was in a sword fight with the male producers on the film, and she put her foot down and said, ‘I’m going to hire the person I want to hire as the love interest kind of thing.’ If it wasn’t her for her strength of commitment, I don’t know how long it might have been before I got an American movie. I’ve got a lot to thank her for.”

No one else may have been able to see it, but the talent was right there. Just check out a scene featuring all three of Sharon’s choices of co-star (below):

Oh, and about that wild directing style… that was thanks to Sam Raimi, who the studio didn’t want because they thought he was a “D-movie director.” Just a few years later he went on to direct the box office-destroying Spider-Man films, ushering in the new age of superhero dominance.

Man, are we sure Sharon isn’t really in Mensa??

Unfortunately The Quick and the Dead was not the huge hit it should have been, becoming more of a cult classic after the fact. But can you imagine those studio heads saying no to that cast and crew just 5 years later? No way.

But at least someone saw the potential. So we’ll just say it: THANK YOU, SHARON!

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