It’s no secret that Peak TV has been kind to some of our best actresses. Women like Elisabeth Moss, Regina King, Patricia Arquette, Sarah Paulson, and Connie Britton have had some of their greatest success on television, and this June, HBO debuts the second season of Big Little Lies starring a few actresses you may have heard of like Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Zoe Kravitz, Shailene Woodley, and oh yeah: Meryl Streep. Ryan Murphy, for the past decade has kept actresses “of a certain age” — Jessica Lange, Susan Sarandon, Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates — not only employed, but delivering some of the best work of their careers. This is all to say nothing of women like Glenn Close (Damages) and Sally Field (Brothers and Sisters) who were giving stellar performances on TV when it was seen as “second class” to the movies they were once the front and center of. These actresses are Oscar nominees and winners who have found in television a far more fertile ground for the type of roles their male counterparts often find more readily at the movies.
This fantastic trend has kept TV fans guessing and fantasizing about who will be the next big time actress to come to the small screen. Sharon Stone has long been at the top of many people’s lists, and for good reason. One of the most beloved actresses of the 90s, Stone’s reign began with her iconic role in Basic Instinct and led to a Best Actress Oscar nomination for for her performance in Martin Scorsese’s Casino. Since then, it’s not that Stone hadsdisappeared, it’s that her choices (while smart and full of gems) were on a much smaller scale. She did the HBO anthology movie If These Walls Could Talk 2, guest stints on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and The Practice (which brought an Emmy nomination) and worked with filmmakers such as Jim Jarmusch and John Turturro, as well as an unrecognizable supporting role in the 2006 film Alpha Dog. (In an alternate universe, Alpha Dog was a better movie, received much stronger reviews and catapulted Stone to another Oscar nomination, maybe even a win. She’s dynamite in it.)
Like many of her peeers, Stone seems to have slowly transitioned to almost exclusively televison roles over the past few years. She had a short-lived TNT series in 2015 called Alpha X where she played a fictional Vice President of the United States. In 2018, she teamed with Steven Soderbergh for the mystery series Mosiac. Premering both on an app and later on HBO, the “series” was really a “choose your own adventure” murder mystery where viewers chose the character’s perspective they wished to see and did their own investigating. While the show premiered on HBO and featured a strong supporting cast, one can assume the confusing nature of its format scared some viewers off. Which is a shame, because Stone delivers one of her best performances as children’s book author Olivia Lake. She was charming, sensual, lonely, and ferocious all at the same time, and had to deliver a technically tricky performance given the unorthodox premise of the show -- it was up to us to decide to whether she was good or evil.
Looking forward, Stone has even more TV on the docket. She just did a guest appearance on Better Things, which, despite just being a one-off, was an exciting opportunity to see her in Pamela Adlon’s laid-back world. Stone is often cast in dramas or thrillers, with roles that often accent her other-worldly beauty, it was a joy to see her loose and playful in a more “human” comedy.
Still, we remain waiting for Sharon Stone to get the Big Little Lies or Sharp Objects or Feud that would catapult her back to the stature she deserves. She’s getting closer with upcoming roles in The New Pope and Ryan Murphy’s Ratched, which tells the origin story of Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (an Oscar-winning role for Louise Fletcher in 1975). While we don’t know the full extent of her roles — seeing as she plays neither the Pope nor Nurse Ratched, we can say they’re not leads — but they are two high profile and innovative television projects, which is exactly where an actress as daring and original as Sharon Stone deserves to be. Here’s hoping someone in Hollywood takes note.
Stephen Hladik is a freelance culture writer and actor. You can follow him on Twitter @stephen_hladik