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Sharon Stone’s Italian cinema debut hit theaters on Thursday — and the brothers behind the film are painting the American actress as a diva who was difficult to work with.
The film, Golden Boy, comes from celebrated director Pupi Avati and his producer-brother Antonio Avati. Casting Stone for the low-budget film was a big win for the duo.
In Golden Boy, Riccardo Scamarcio plays Davide, a copywriter whose father Ettore was a B-movie screenwriter. After his father dies in a car accident, Davide leaves his job, city and girlfriend Silvia, played by Cristiana Capotondi. He moves to Rome and meets Ludovica (Stone), a sexy actress-turned-publisher who wanted to release his father’s autobiography. Davide decides to write the book himself, in an effort to get to know his father, and Ludovica, better. Stone’s character is dubbed in the domestic version of the film, which is the norm for Italian releases.
Avati wrote the script with Stone in mind.
“The idea of having her in the role of an actress from the ’90s who becomes a book editor was mine,” said the director at a press conference in Rome for the film. “I knew there are American actresses more capable than her, but I wanted a film icon. Everyday on the set I was telling her: ‘But do you realize that you are Sharon Stone because of that day when you crossed your legs?’”
Getting her to sign up for the film was another story.
“My brother asked me if I was crazy,” said the director. “Rai [Cinema] told me you will never ever get her. Then a correspondence started, enough to write a book, between her agents and our lawyers. It was a negotiation that bordered on ridiculousness, concerning embarrassing details, as if Italy was a third world country. By the way, we do have electricity in Italy,” he joked.
“Then she arrived in Italy,” continued Antonio Avati. “And we went to pick her up in Florence with a train from Italo that we rented just for her,” he said referring to Italy’s luxury train line.
“She was there to visit [Andrea] Bocelli. We had our first meeting with her: She was on the wrong railway track, sitting on her luggage and no one around recognized her.”
The producer claimed that as soon as she was spotted she transformed. “Then, step-by-step, she started to feel more and more like Sharon Stone,” he said. “On this rented train, everybody asked to take a picture with her. And when we arrived at the Tiburtina train station [in Rome] there were already about 30 photographers. We brought her to the most luxurious suite of the Hassler Hotel. The next day on set there were more than 200 paparazzi. There her ego definitively inflated. It is the classic pattern with these American actresses who are slightly declining.”
But it was the final scene that Pupi Avati says revealed the actress’ most diva-like behavior. “It was the last scene in the day and we had to do the last shot where Sharon kisses Scamarcio,” he said. “Suddenly, she realized that together with all the photographers there was also a TV cameraman who was filming.”
“She immediately disappeared. We looked for her everywhere, but nothing! Then my brother received a phone call from Los Angeles from her manager: she wouldn’t come back on the set until the photographers and especially that damned TV cameramen had gone away. Obviously we did so and she, like nothing happened, shot the scene. The thing that I found most absurd is that she had to call to the States and to close herself in a car, instead of coming to ask us directly.”
But despite the alleged difficulties, the director says he would not necessarily turn down another opportunity to collaborate with the actress. “By the way,” he said, “it is not absolutely true that I would never work with her again.”
Actress Cristiana Capotondi also commented on Stone’s behavior at the conference: “To witness the Hollywood diva-ism clashing up against the craftsmanship of the Avati brothers was an unforgettable experience,” she said. “The funniest thing was when she was going shopping for her character with the production’s credit card. She had a production runner following her, at a distance, to tell Antonio which shops she was going into. When the runner called to say that she was going into Bulgari, Antonio almost fainted.”
When reached for comment, Stone’s rep Cindi Berger told The Hollywood Reporter, “None of this is true. Ms. Stone is the consummate professional.”
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