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Sharon Stone recalls working on Casino with Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and James Woods, in a role for which she won her one Oscar nomination. Best of all, she loved working with men who had the balls to be bad and dangerous on screen, she tells John Millar.

Martin Scorsese repaid a debt he owed to Universal by directing Casino (1995), an adaptation [completed with the writerís involvement] of Nicholas Pileggiís fact based account of how the mob operated in Las Vegas during the 70s. It has the Scorsese stamp on it, not least in the casting.

Ace bookie and professional gambler Sam Rothstein (Robert De Niro) is sent to Las Vegas in the early 1970s by his Mafia bosses to run the popular landmark casino, the Tangiers. Accompanying him to this land of riches is his hot-headed childhood friend Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci), a made man and notorious stand-over guy. With the two friends eagerly trying to control the city by their own methods: Sam through legitimate business and Nicky through strong-arming and organised crime. Tensions between the two become strained. But when one-time casino hustler and Samís wife Ginger (Sharon Stone) begins to play the two of them off against each other, as well as causing major headaches by striking up a relationship with her former lover Lester Diamond (James Woods), their world of riches and power begins to implode, risking everything they have created as well as their own lives.†

What was it like making an epic movie like Casino?†
It was exhausting. We were working for five months in Las Vegas, which is always a task. When we shot in a casino we couldnít just take it over. If a high roller was at a table and winning then you might have to wait five hours, six hours or whatever. Sometimes we worked 22 hour days. The days were very long but they were also exciting. It was wonderful to work with such great talent. Yes it was exhausting but I would do it again in a second.†

You must have enjoyed working with three such different leading men ... Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and James Woods?†

I loved working with them and I loved them as individuals. Every one of them was smart, funny, talented and brave. I like working with brave, dangerous people who are willing to tell the truth. A lot of actors wink at the camera to suggest that they donít have a dark side. They are not willing to be dangerous and donít want people to have a bad opinion of them. So they donít have any balls.†

How about you, how did you manage to enter the dark places to play your character in Casino?†
Well that would be pretty difficult to explain. I think maybe that is something that belongs only to me.†

During the course of the film you wear some fabulous fashions?†
We had a fantastic wardrobe organiser. She makes costumes knowing exactly what each room in the film is going to be like and the palette is to be like. She understands the psychology of colour for the scene. A lot of the fashion in the film came back in style. Lots of my hairstyles in the film also came back. Iím mad about vintage. I always wear some vintage in my movies. I love to mix vintage with modern things.†

You deservedly received an Oscar nomination for your performance in Casino. What do you remember about that moment?†
It was an unbelievable thrill. I have six telephone lines in my house. When one line lit up early in the morning I watched it ring. It rang maybe three or four times and I thought that it was my publicist, calling to tell me that I did not get nominated. So ok. Then - and I could cry as I remember it - all six lines lit up and I started to scream. Because I knew if all six lines lit then it had happened!†

Are you a fan of the DVD revolution?†
Yes I really am a fan. I think that DVDs are so beautiful and clear. There is a clarity that you do not see on VCR. So you get the colour as it was meant to be, in a real, living way. That is particularly true in a film like this which is about people who lived their lives in Technicolor. Itís all there on the DVD, which is not what you see on television. If you see the film on TV you have not really seen it. On DVD itís like how we made it. The DVD print has been re-mastered from the original print, and youíre seeing it as if you went to the premiere.†

Published August 25, 2005

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Sharon Stone in Casino


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