Sharon Stone on appearing on ‘Saturday Night Live’ with Sam Smith

Sharon Stone on appearing on ‘Saturday Night Live’ with Sam Smith
Sharon Stone on appearing on ‘Saturday Night Live’ with Sam Smith

Sam Smith’s performance on “Saturday Night Live” last weekend was one of the most artistic musical ensembles in the show’s history — and one of the most innovative, both visually and thematically. For the Grammy-nominated single ‘Unholy’, Smith performed in a comically oversized poofy pink outfit – so large that his duet partner Kim Petras hid beneath him, and was only revealed when a pair of dancers came out and opened Smith’s costume like curtains. It was as provocative and charged as the song itself.

The second song, however, was the polar opposite, and not just because of its strongly religious theme: “Gloria,” the title track from Smith’s fourth solo album, released on Friday, was performed entirely by a 16-member choir. musicians wearing black hooded clothes. -shimmering monks’ robes, chanting the meditative yet uplifting lyrics of the song. Smith, who didn’t start singing until the song was nearly finished, stood in the center.

Yet ahead of the singers was actress Sharon Stone – yes, her from “Casino”, “Basic Instinct” and “Total Recall” – making a totally unexpected appearance. For the first few minutes of the song, she lay almost motionless on a couch, looking gorgeous yet distant in a glamorous gold sequin dress.

However, when Smith begins to sing, their powerful voice rising above the choir, she straightens up, transfixed by something in the distance, her expression is a combination of awe, fear, sadness and some sort of rapture. As the song ends, she turns her head to the audience, tears in her eyes, a dark finality settling on her face. It’s a remarkably subtle and enigmatic performance, and not necessarily one you’d expect from his past films.

The song’s lyrics only provide a general light on what the performance might mean – “Be yourself so strong tonight / They’ll hear you from the stars / Sparkling like dynamite / If that’s who you are” – so we reached out to Stone, who spoke with The variety on Zoom Tuesday in a lively half-hour conversation. (Smith was unavailable for comment.)

Your appearance on Saturday Night Live was Sam Smith was remarkable –

And this song! It’s hard to believe Sam isn’t 30 yet.

How did it happen? Did you already know him?

I had met Sam before through my good friend [singer] Rufus Wainwright. We all sat together at the Judy Garland premiere [2019 biopic “Judy”], with the brilliant performance of Renee Zellweger. Sam sent me a DM, maybe a month ago, and was like, “I know this is really long, but would you like to do this?” And I said, “Well, it’s funny, I listen to Sam Smith radio [on a streaming service] at the moment, so I think the universe has already decided that. I’d love to do it, Sam. I just think you’re the most amazing artist and I’d absolutely love to do it.

And that would be huge for me, because when I was hosting “Saturday Night Live” [in 1992], it was a bit scary. But we decided to do it — and in we I mean me and Paris Libby, who is the head of my costume and design and commercial department. So he had the dress made — he designed it and had it made in India so we could get it quickly. And it was just wonderful.

It’s such an enigmatic performance. What kind of direction did Sam give?

I have sketches of the choir and the box up front and how Sam thought it would go. Sam has a choreographer and a dance director, and we talked about it – I knew how it was going to be. But this scene is made for musicians, so it’s very acoustic, and when I was in the semi-circle of singers, it was like a sound bath – Sam Kruger, Sam’s manager, replaced me for the soundcheck earlier today, and he said, “I walked off stage and thought I was going to cry.” It’s surreal, how moving it is to be inside that sound.

Sam didn’t ask me anything – he just asked if I would and trusted me. We just understand each other innately, on an almost intimate level. I see him and he knows that I see him and that I adore him and that I approve of him and that I trust him, and therefore he sees me and approves of me and trusts me. We don’t judge each other; we only have affirmative feelings for each other as an artist. It’s not a competitive sport, but we want everyone to bring their best game, and to do that, it’s like, “Go ahead, girl.”

It’s like the way I act – I say this prayer before I go on stage, I ask to be a conduit for the highest purpose of the moment, whatever it is, then I do a breathing exercise and I ‘m trying to pull myself free and become extraordinarily grounded and not get in the way. Paul Verhoeven once told me, “Get out of your own way so the angels can fly through you. I don’t know if you’ve seen that clip of Bob Dylan saying, “I don’t know how I got to write those songs. I don’t know how it happened to me. When I put on a good performance or write a good song or paint a good picture – when things are going well, I say “Thank you for allowing this to pass through me.”

It’s interesting that you say that in this context because it was such a religiously themed show. Your expression reminded me of that painting of Joan of Arc (by Jules Bastien-Lepage]she listens with that delighted expression and you can see faint images of the saints talking to her.

That’s such a compliment, I’m a big fan of Joan of Arc. Before doing “Basic Instinct”, I read all the Joan of Arc [book] there have been, from Mark Twain to Bernard Shaw.

Why?

‘Cause I feel like you gotta believe what you’re doing is so real, whether it’s good or bad [in character], it has to come through you, it has to be very clear and pure. I actually just had this conversation with Amy Poehler. [who also appeared on “SNL” last weekend] that it’s very difficult when you’re playing an antisocial character, a character where maybe everyone on set won’t like you. You need to be very clear about your own journey. ‘Cause you can’t be there flattering – like “I’m evil” – because they are the worst performances. You have to be prepared to stand in the pure flow of the thing – good, bad, ugly, whatever. And you know, it takes a hell of a commitment.

So what happens during the show? You don’t really move until he starts singing.

Well, I had the great luxury of working with George C. Scott. And he said, “I want to give you the biggest compliment I can give anybody, honey,” and he put his hand over my face and said, “You’re the best listener I’ve ever been with. never worked, except for my wife.” And I cried. I’ve worked with some of the biggest stars in the industry, who will literally talk through my close-up, telling me what they think I should be doing. They’re so misogynistic – now it’s not Robert De Niro. it’s not Joe Pesci, it’s not those guys. But I’ve worked with some really big stars who will literally speak out loud through my close-up, telling me what to do. They just don’t listen to me and don’t allow me to affect their performance with my performance. It’s not great to act. I mean, I get that you’re awesome and everyone thinks you’re wonderful. But listening, being present for those fractured moments, is really the human experience.

I’m not the most popular actor in town, because people don’t want to hear my fucking opinions, as they say… maybe because of my dedication, maybe because I’m just a bit weird. But I’m just here to be present.

And all of that influenced your performance with Sam?

I am listen. I listen and allow it to be alive in my heart. I think what we really wanted was this idea of ​​an appearance – almost like [Russian-French painter] Erte. Sam asked me to do the clip, so I’m sure it’s going to be pretty interesting to see how he would like to handle that.

I’m not called to play these roles – I’m called to strip down and play these crazy sociopath characters because I played one [in multiple past films]. I am not called upon to play thoughtful and sensitive characters. I’m a painter – I have two shows coming up – and I’m a songwriter, I’ve had three number ones in other countries. But I will never forget “Basic Instinct” in my head. I came into this world looking like a Barbie, so it’s hard for people to give me the opportunity to be something else.

I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you another question: I didn’t expect to see you in “Rolling thunder” [Martin Scorsese’s documentary of Bob Dylan’s 1975 tour]. Do you keep in touch with Dylan?

I haven’t heard from him lately, I think he’s in a very low key situation at the moment. But we’ve been friends for quite a long time, actually. People didn’t know that and I never took advantage of it — I’m not that girl! I never told a single person about it until he asked me to be in the movie “Rolling Thunder”.

. Sharon Stone on her appearance in Saturday Night Live with Sam Smith

. Sharon Stone appearing Saturday Night Live Sam Smith

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