MOVIES

How Basic Instinct’s Sex Scene Left Cannes Film Festival Attendees Overwhelmed

The linchpin that holds “Basic Instinct” together, of course, is the unnervingly realistic sex scene midway through the film, when Catherine Tramell ties Nick Curran’s wrists to the best post in the same manner the undisclosed killer does in the opening scene before she stabs her victim to death. Catherine doesn’t stab Nick, but the scene provides a piece of concrete evidence for the audience that she could indeed be the killer.

Written by Joe Eszterhas, “Basic Instinct” looked great to Michael Douglas on paper, but he and director Paul Verhoeven found out that getting a female actor to sign the dotted line to play Catherine was going to be difficult because of the film’s explicit nudity and sex scenes. Thankfully for the production, Stone was willing to go the distance. “We wanted to hit something, and we had a good script, and we had a fabulous actress in Sharon. She was just perfect for the role,” Douglas recalled at the 2023 Cannes press conference. “Again, it was very funny. We were auditioning, trying to find the right actress for the part, and Paul knew there was going to be a lot of active sex — there is in a lot of his films. So when he would meet these actresses, he would always preface it by saying, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah. But there’ll be nudity. Yeah, nudity … Lots of nudity.’ I said, ‘Paul, you don’t have to say that.'”

But Verhoeven did keep saying that, Douglas remembered, adding, “So we kept getting turned down by actresses!”

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