The actress quickly landed more leading roles in blockbusters including Casino and The Quick and the Dead, gracing the screen alongside the likes of actors Robert De Niro, Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Fame came quick and fast, but becoming a household name also led to intense scrutiny of Sharon’s personal life. The stunning blonde was linked to a bevy of eligible bachelors including actor David Duchovny, country singer Dwight Yoakam and even the former US president’s son, John F. Kennedy Jr.
She also scandalously commenced a relationship with a co-producer of her 1993 film Sliver, which resulted in him leaving his wife to be with the star.
“Sudden fame of this enormity is scary,” Sharon said at the time. “You feel invaded.”
Despite her career riding high, the elevated attention on her off-camera life became all too much. By the late ’90s, Sharon had had enough, and made the shock decision to walk away from Hollywood.
In 1998, after a whirlwind nine-month relationship, Sharon married newspaper executive Phil Bronstein, and moved to San Francisco, where he was based. After suffering two miscarriages, the couple adopted a son, Roan, in 2000.
“I thought, ‘This is such a godsend. This is so right,’” she recalls.
However, Sharon was dealt a devastating health blow just 15 months later, suffering a severe stroke and brain haemorrhage.
“I came out of the hospital with short and long-term memory loss,” reveals the actress.
In the aftermath of the near-fatal episode, her marriage suffered and ultimately fell apart.
The descent from the pinnacle of Hollywood stardom to being at death’s door was not lost on the actress. On top of that, Sharon was now faced with the prospect of being a single mother to a young child.
Looking back, she says, this would ultimately be a life-defining period.
“Once you’ve had your life burn down, it takes time to be a phoenix,” she reveals. “You have to stand in stillness long enough … and love and forgive yourself.”
Sharon moved back to Los Angeles to rebuild her life after her marriage collapsed. Professionally, she returned to the big screen, notching up credits in films including Catwoman in 2004 and Alpha Dog in 2006.
Meanwhile in her personal life, she added to her family by adopting two more sons, Laird in 2005 and Quinn in 2006.
But it was far from smooth sailing, with Sharon recalling that she was dogged by an ongoing court custody battle with her ex.
“It was my period of biggest change,” she admits to Closer. “I was a mum with three beautiful little boys … and I was in custody court constantly over my oldest child.”
In 2008, Sharon “was just broken” after the court finally ruled that her ex-husband had been granted primary physical custody of Roan and could provide a more stable home.
Following that decision, Sharon says she made a conscious change to her personal and career focus.
“I’ve made humanitarian causes and my children much more my priority than the Hollywood scene,” she says.
And according to Sharon, the silver lining is that her outlook shift, coupled with the act of writing a memoir, has helped her to heal and co-parent with Roan’s father.
“You have to get over those emotions and be a good mother,” she says.
For more, pick up the latest issue of New Idea. Out now!