Michael Douglas felt an established star was needed to play Catherine, so the movie would be carried by two well-known actors, and the risk of career damage would also be shared. He suggested Julia Roberts for the part, but no actress of name was prepared to go completely nude for the role. Douglas was initially against Sharon Stone being cast as she was largely unknown, despite her supporting role in Total Recall (1990), but Paul Verhoeven desperately wanted her, since he had been very impressed by her screen test.
Sharon Stone's infamous leg-uncrossing scene was not in Joe Eszterhas' original script; it was thought up by Paul Verhoeven while the movie was being shot. It was based on a memory of Verhoeven's college years, when a woman at a party had done the exact same thing to embarrass him.
According to Sharon Stone, director Paul Verhoeven asked her to remove her underwear for the leg-crossing scene, as he said they were too bright and reflected at the camera. Stone agreed to do so under the assumption that her genitals weren't visible. It was only at an early preview that Stone discovered Verhoeven chose to use this specific shot. Stone was mainly cross with Verhoeven for not discussing the matter with her beforehand, but decided to let the scene go without changes, as she felt this conformed with her movie character. However, Verhoeven's version of the conflict is that he told Stone beforehand about the leg-crossing shot, as it was important for showing Catherine Tramell's free-spirited nature and her constant drive to toy with people. Stone was reportedly excited about the idea and shot the scene. However, during the early preview, her agents supposedly disproved of the scene, fearing it would harm her future career. According to Verhoeven, Stone radically changed her mind about the shot and demanded that he remove it, which he ultimately refused.
The movie completely ignored DNA, which had been used in criminal investigations since the mid-1980s. The film was set in the year of its release (1992), by which time DNA was constantly being used for crime investigations.
Joe Eszterhas wrote the script in ten days in the 1980s while listening to The Rolling Stones non-stop without even having a story outline. It was first called Love Hurts, but he then sold it three days later at auction as Basic Instinct.
Paul Verhoeven shot copious amounts of footage of the sex scene between Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone. Expecting that the MPAA would have problems with the explicit nature of the scene, he shot alternate close-ups, medium shots and wide shots of virtually every shot over 10 days. This gave him the freedom to edit the scene until the MPAA was satisfied and no longer demanded that the scene was deleted altogether.
In 2002 screenwriter Joe Eszterhas apologized in an op-ed for The New York Times for glamorizing smoking in this movie. Eszterhas was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2000, as was Michael Douglas in 2010 (although Douglas later said he actually had tongue cancer).
Paul Verhoeven was on record when he first signed to do the film as saying that he wanted to make it the first Hollywood mainstream film with an erect penis in it. He didn't get his wish. But he did get a limp penis on screen - on Boz's cadaver when the police examine his body.
While appearing on Inside the Actors Studio (1994), Sharon Stone claimed that she had no idea that Paul Verhoeven was filming up her dress during the interrogation scene. She also claims that when she saw the rushes, she slapped the director across the face and ordered him to remove the shot. Verhoeven denies this.
Paul Verhoeven was so intent on making the sex scenes as explicitly as the censors would allow, that he showed the studio executives very detailed storyboards depicting what he had in mind, as to avoid later discussions about the graphic nature of the love scenes.
Catherine's last name comes from Alan Trammell, the longtime star shortstop for the Detroit Tigers. Sharon Stone discovered that a trammell was a Scottish death shroud and complimented Joe Eszterhas on his subtlety with the choice, not believing the truth.
This movie, along with RoboCop (1987), Starship Troopers (1997) and Hollow Man (2000), is one of four separate movie franchises in which the first of their respected series (directed by Paul Verhoeven) were successful, but their sequels (not directed by Verhoeven) all either bombed at the box office or were released "direct-to-DVD".
The disco scene was felt by many to be inappropriate given the respective ages of the two stars. The disco was intended for young people, but Sharon Stone was in her mid-30s and Michael Douglas was in his late 40s.
Writer Joe Eszterhas and producer Irwin Winkler walked off the picture after failing to reach agreement with director Paul Verhoeven over the script. Verhoeven promptly hired Total Recall (1990) writer Gary Goldman to come up with some new scenes, most of which beefed up Michael Douglas's character and made him less wimpy. These changes were largely made at the behest of Douglas. It was during this later stage that Verhoeven realized his changes weren't going to work, so he publicly acknowledged his error and made up with Eszterhas (which Eszterhas admitted to be a rare thing in Hollywood). Problems reoccurred later when the script had been leaked, and the gay and lesbian communities had serious reservations about the depiction of lesbian and bisexual characters. Eszterhas wanted to make more changes to appease them, but Verhoeven point blank refused to incorporate these changes. Eszterhas again publicly distanced himself from the production, but once again reconciled with Verhoeven when the finished movie was praised by critics and homosexual communities alike.
One of the main points of disagreement between Paul Verhoeven and Joe Eszterhas concerned Verhoeven's wish to include a lesbian love scene between Catherine Trammell and her lover Roxy, as he considered a movie that only mentioned bisexuality without showing bisexual love to be overly puritan; Eszterhas considered adding such a scene to be sensationalism. Verhoeven made some attempts but found that the scene ruined the movie's pace, so he abandoned the idea. The only remnant of the scene in the movie is when Catherine and Roxy passionately kiss after Nick angrily leaves Catherine's apartment.
Joe Eszterhas based Catherine Tramell on a go go dancer he knew in Ohio. One night he picked the stranger up and they went back to his hotel room to have some fun. "She reached into her purse, and she pulled out a .22 and pointed it at me," he told Nerve. "She said, 'Give me one reason why I shouldn't pull this trigger.' I said, 'I didn't do anything to hurt you. You wanted to come here, and as far as I know, you enjoyed what we just did.' And she said, 'But this is all guys have ever wanted to do with me, and I'm tired of it.' We had a lengthy discussion before she put that gun down".
Just as Catherine manipulates men, Sharon Stone manipulated Paul Verhoeven to get the role. Back then Stone wasn't a big name, and didn't read for the part fearing she'd be disappointed. She finally read the script and knew she was right for the role but didn't want to call Verhoeven-whom she had worked with on Total Recall (1990)-and ask if she could audition for him. "I wouldn't ask, because I didn't want him to test me just because he felt obligated," she told Playboy. One day Verhoeven had her come in to dub lines for an airplane version of Total Recall (1990), so she wore a tight Catherine-esque dress to demonstrate to Verhoeven that she could play the maneater part. "I was being cool. Very cool," she said. "I didn't want him to think I was insane, but I did want to give him a general idea that I could transform myself. Men are visually stimulated-and that's usually enough, at least at first." The dress worked, and Stone tested with Douglas and won the role.
In an interview with Playboy, Sharon Stone revealed that she didn't feel comfortable around Michael Douglas and the feeling was probably mutual, but it worked for the movie. "I think that kind of discomfort lends itself to this kind of movie," she said. "Tension is good. I basically didn't get to know Michael. There was something about the mystery of not knowing each other that lent itself to this situation. It's odd, because now I have this very intimate bond with a stranger." Despite that, Stone described working with him as "primal." "It was all about watching him, observing his movements, provoking him. If one were to believe in karma, I would say there is some karmic circle yet unfulfilled between the two of us. Our energy together was strong. It still isn't comfortable for me, but I think it works very well for our work together."
The scene where Michael Douglas has sex with Jeanne Tripplehorn was filmed unbeknownst to the actors, who were simply rehearsing the scene. Things heated up quickly, as evidenced by the footage in the final film, and Paul Verhoeven liked the performances so much that he included it in the final film.
Sharon Stone played the interrogation scene as if she were playing a game. Instead of allowing the male law enforcement to intimidate her character, Stone played the role with confidence. "The ruse they use-'We have the power, we're going to show you'-didn't cut the mustard with [Catherine]," Stone told Playboy. "Her attitude was, 'You're so powerful. Aren't you cute!' And, of course, she had all the power. These men put her in a position where she was alone in a chair in the center of an empty room-surrounded. That would be a very intimidating position to be in unless she disarmed them, which she did. At the police station she could have been stricken and scared. But instead she thought, 'This is going to be fun. Oh, so you want me to sit in the middle of the room here? Oh, charming. Why is that? You want to make sure you can look up my dress? OK, you can look up my dress.' It was a game."
Michael Douglas and Paul Verhoeven both approached the film as if it were a detective novel. Verhoeven wanted to make a modern version of an Alfred Hitchcock thriller-except with a lot more sex and Douglas agreed with the noir aspect.
Renée Soutendijk and Amanda Donohoe were considered for the role of Catherine Tramell. Soutendijk had already played a femme fatale in one of Paul Verhoeven's Dutch films and came very close to getting the part. However, Verhoeven realized that American audiences wouldn't be surprised if a European actress was cast in the part of the wicked and dangerous lady, so he decided that Catherine Tramell should be an "all-American" girl.
In the latter scene where Beth comes into Nick's apartment and leaves after a verbal altercation, while it seems he is awaken from being heavily intoxicated the movie Hellraiser (1987) is on the television.
When Nick is tailing Catherine Tramell on CA Hwy 1, he passes a car bearing the license plate "OUTTA TM", a presumably unintentional reference to the "OUTATIME" license plate in Back to the Future (1985).
Michael Douglas' character has the same first name ("Nick") as his character in Black Rain (1989), in which he also portrays a cop. Douglas' character in "Black Rain" is Detective Nick Conklin, while his character in this film is Detective Nick Curran.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) initially gave "Basic Instinct" an NC-17 rating. The NC-17 was established in 1990 to replace the X rating, due to the latter rating's association with pornography. According to Paul Verhoeven, the MPAA tried to encourage TriStar, the distributor, to not make edits for an R rating, as they wanted a major film to prove to the American public that the NC-17 rating did not signify pornography. However TriStar's contract with Verhoeven stipulated an R-rated film; thus 45 seconds were removed to fulfill these obligations. The NC-17 version was released theatrically overseas and is available on video in America.
Four of the crew are European; director Paul Verhoeven was born in Amsterdam Noord-Holland, Netherlands, cinematographer Jan De Bont was born in Eindhoven, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands, producer Alan Marshall was born in London, England, UK and writer Joe Eszterhas was born in Csákánydoroszló, Hungary.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Sharon Stone, when doing the interview circuit, was really annoyed by the fact that everyone always asked her how she felt about all the nudity, when she had real problems with the fact that her character killed someone on screen. When filming this sequence, a paramedic had to be on standby as she kept passing out, and suffered nightmares.
When it was first released, the film confused many audience members, who had wildly different impressions of who the killer really was. It wasn't until the director and stars went public in interviews, telling the public who the killer was and where the clues could be found, that the debate about the ending finally was put to rest.
To get an "R" rating, Paul Verhoeven had to re-cut the movie a total of 14 times. The four scenes demanding the heaviest re-cuts were the murder of Johnny Boz, the "date rape" of Elizabeth Cooper, the sex scene between Nick and Catherine and the death of Gus.
Gay rights activists were so against the way the gay characters were portrayed that they blocked the San Francisco set numerous times. Director Paul Verhoeven had to issue fake call sheets to trick the protesters into blocking unused locations. When the movie was released, the activists paraded around San Francisco theaters handing out flyers saying, "Catherine did it" to ruin the plot for moviegoers. This didn't seem to have any impact at all, as the movie opened #1 on that same weekend and went on to become one of the highest-grossing movies of the year.
The scene from _The Ides of March_ where Caeser has a nightmare that Xena is having sex with him in bed in woman-on-top position and then stabs him a knife was a nod to the scene which Catherine Tramell rides Johnny Boz and then stabs him with a ice-pick,.
One of two movies where Michael Douglas plays a cop named Nick who has a partner who gets killed. In Black Rain (1989) his partner Charlie, played by Andy Garcia, is decapitated in a parking garage in Japan after being lead in there from someone stealing his coat after he did a mock bullfight. In this film, Gus played George Dzundza is stabbed in the neck in the elevator with an ice pick. In both movies both Nicks deal with Internal Affairs. In Black Rain, Nick Conklin is accused of stealing money from drug dealers to pay off mounting debt. In this film, Nick Curran was undercover trying to bust a drug buy and shot 2 tourists accidentally due to the fact he was using cocaine.