Bright, funny, sexy and direct, Sharon Stone is a journalist's dream. Her quick wit "Women might be able to fake orgasms, but men can fake whole relationships" and an IQ of 154 make the 5ft 8in, blue-eyed Basic Instinct star a perfect interview.
Born on March 10, 1958, to a factory worker and his wife in Meadville, Pennsylvania, Sharon Stone was a fast developer. Able to walk and talk by her first birthday, at school she "drove everybody crazy because I had adult questions and wanted adult answers".
After graduating from high school, by which time she had started to land the top prize in beauty pageants, Sharon won a writing scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania. There she majored in creative writing and fine arts, but her real love was acting.
As a child she mounted plays in her parents' garage to entertain the neighbours, and used her beauty pageant money to hire an acting coach to help her hone her craft.
In 1977, Sharon moved to New York, where she signed with the Ford agency and became one of the firm's top models, most memorably in the Charlie perfume ads. Her career slowed down, however, after an injury incurred while horse-riding left her with a scar on her neck.
Her movie break came just three years later, when Woody Allen cast her in Stardust Memories. It was only a fleeting appearance, but it was a start. Her career took a remarkably long time to germinate, however. Most of the Eighties was taken up with a series of forgettable parts, including Richard Chamberlain-vehicle King Solomon's Mines. She later described her performance in the film as "a bad hairdo running through a jungle".
It wasn't until she played Arnold Schwarzenegger's wife in Total Recall, that Hollywood really started to sit up and take notice. And her decision to pose nude for Playboy magazine at the age of 32 can't have done any harm either. By the time she was cast in the role of Catherine Tramell in 1992's Basic Instinct, she was well and truly on the Tinseltown radar.
Once Sharon had shored up her bankability with a couple of conventional movies including romantic thriller Sliver, and The Specialist, in which she shared a shower scene with Sylvester Stallone Sharon turned her hand to producing. The fine Western The Quick And The Dead had her starring as a female gunfighter alongside Gene Hackman and Leonardo DiCaprio. When the project ran into difficulties she paid half of Leo's wages out of her own salary.
The movie that put her on the map as a serious actress was Martin Scorsese's classic gangster-flick Casino. As mobster's moll Ginger, Sharon eclipsed everyone including the film's stunning Sixties and Seventies period clothing winning a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nomination for her performance.
Hollywood is a place obsessed by youth and for most actresses, as the years roll on, the parts dry up. But Sharon Stone remains in the limelight she has, after all, received four Golden Globe nominations, including one in 1999 for her performance in The Muse.
After her 1984 marriage to TV producer Michael Greenburg came to an end, she found love again with San Francisco newspaperman Phil Bronstein, marrying him in 1998. Two years later the couple adopted a baby boy, Roan Joseph Bronstein, but their relationship didn't last they divorced in 2005.
As a single mum Sharon went onto adopt two more boys - Laird Vonne Stone in 2005 and Quinn Kelly the following year. When asked in 2009 how she copes on her own, the actress said: "I multi-task. I have more love, help, friendship and kindness than at any other time in my life".
In September 2001 Sharon suffered a major health scare when she was diagnosed with an aneurysm on the brain. She has since been given the all clear. Sharon says her illness and the time off afterwards had a silver lining. "I don't have wants and desires now the way that I did before," she says. "I have more of a sense of gratitude."
Since then the actress has dedicated much of her time to philanthropic works. She is a passionate AIDS activist, and is honorary chair of AmFAR, the high-profile charity formerly headed by Elizabeth Taylor.