Leonardo DiCaprio can’t thank Sharon Stone enough for paying his salary on Sam Raimi’s The Quick and the Dead.
Update: In celebration of Sam Raimi’s The Quick and the Dead being added to The Criterion Channel as part of this month’s Women of the West series, Sharon Stone is clarifying her involvement in some of the casting. The popular story is that Stone paid the salaries of her then-unknown co-stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe, but on Instagram she’s saying that’s only partially true with her giving credit to producer Mike Medavoy for at least part of the casting.
“Yes, I paid @leonardodicaprio’s salary out of mine. No I didn’t pay @russellcrowe’s, but I did ask for the film to be delayed two weeks so we could get him here from Australia, and our producer @mikemedavoyup agreed to the delay. And to cover those expenses.”
Whatever the case, Stone certainly helped both actors get a foothold, with DiCaprio following The Quick and the Dead with Romeo + Juliet, while Crowe landed the scene-stealing bad guy role in Virtuosity.
Leonardo DiCaprio had auditioned for the role of The Kid in Sam Raimi’s The Quick and the Dead, and when the studio rejected him, Sharon Stone was adamant that he was perfect for the role. When the studio countered that she should pay him herself if she really wanted him… she did, and it’s a choice DiCaprio remains thankful for all these years later. “I’ve thanked her many times,” DiCaprio told E! News. “I don’t know if I sent her an actual, physical thank you gift, but I cannot thank her enough… She said, ‘These are the two actors [DiCaprio & Russell Crowe] I want to work with. It’s incredible. She’s been a huge champion of cinema and giving other actors opportunities, so I’m very thankful.“
Sharon Stone revealed how she paid Leonardo DiCaprio’s salary in her 2021 memoir, The Beauty of Living Twice (via Insider). “This kid named Leonardo DiCaprio was the only one who nailed the audition,” Stone wrote. “In my opinion: he was the only one who came in and cried, begging his father to love him as he died in the scene.” However, TriStar Pictures wasn’t keen on DiCaprio. “‘Why an unknown, Sharon, why are you always shooting yourself in the foot?’” Stone said of the studio’s reply. “The studio said if I wanted him so much, I could pay him out of my own salary. So I did.“
A month after The Quick and the Dead started shooting, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape was released in theaters, a film which earned Leonardo DiCaprio an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. I would imagine that TriStar Pictures was suddenly very appreciative that Stone went to bat for DiCaprio.
The Quick and the Dead starred Sharon Stone as The Lady, a gunfighter who joins a deadly dueling competition in Redemption, a frontier town controlled by ruthless outlaw John Herold. In addition to Stone and DiCaprio, the film also starred Russell Crowe, Gene Hackman, Lance Henriksen, Keith David, and more.