Catherine Tramell

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Catherine Tramell
Basic Instinct character
Basic instinct 001.jpg
Sharon Stone as Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct
First appearance Basic Instinct
Last appearance Basic Instinct 2
Portrayed by Sharon Stone
Significant other(s)
  • Nick Curran (Basic Instinct)
  • Michael Glass (Basic Instinct 2)
  • Seducing and manipulating her victims
  • Stabbing murders with an ice pick

Catherine Tramell is a fictional character and main antagonist in the film Basic Instinct (1992) and its sequel, Basic Instinct 2 (2006). Catherine, created by writer Joe Eszterhas, is played by Sharon Stone in both films. In Basic Instinct, Tramell is a potential serial killer and love interest of washed-up detective Nick Curran; Basic Instinct 2 pairs her with the similarly troubled British psychologist Michael Glass.

One European critic defined Catherine Tramell as "a mix between the classic femme fatale and the new psycho killers, one of the most evil characters ever created, on Hannibal Lecter's level". She was nominated to be a member of the American Film Institute's "Best Villains" list. She was also included as one of the best 250 fiction villains ever created. In June 2010, Entertainment Weekly named her one of the 100 Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years.[1]

On the other hand, scenario in both films is written in a way that makes spectators doubt who the real killer is. From this point of view, Catherine Trammell might be innocent; as she has admitted in the movie "Basic Instinct 2", she writes about "the sexual, the violence, the basic instincts...". So, as a brilliant novelist, she seduces and manipulates people by playing mind games with them in order to get out of their limits and "reveal themselves", and later she uses their reactions in her books. She has studied literature and phychology after all.


Basic Instinct

Basic Instinct establishes Tramell as a successful crime novelist who is connected to the violent stabbing death of a washed up rock musician, Johnny Boz who was found in his bed tied to the bed posts with a white silk scarf. She is subsequently investigated by San Francisco homicide detectives Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) and Gus Moran (George Dzundza), who learn that Boz died in exactly the same manner as a character in Tramell's most recent novel. Tramell shows little emotion upon hearing of Boz's death and, under questioning by the police, behaves provocatively; in the film's most famous scene, Tramell re-crosses her legs to show that she is not wearing underwear beneath her short skirt.

Curran looks into Tramell's troubled history and links her to the deaths of her parents, her counselor at UC Berkeley, and her former fiancé; she also has a habit of befriending imprisoned murderers. However, when he confronts Tramell, she taunts him with knowledge of his drug addiction. Thinking that Tramell received the confidential information from an adversarial Internal Affairs investigator, Marty Nilsen, a violent Curran gets himself suspended and falls into a drunken stupor. After Nilsen is found dead, he becomes the prime suspect. Curran, increasingly seduced by Tramell, becomes sexually involved with her; she tells him that he will be the basis of the character in her next novel.

A torrid affair between Nick and Catherine begins with the air of a cat-and-mouse game. Nick shows up at a club and witness her sniffing coke in a bathroom stall. Later, they have sex at Catherine's apartment. During sex, Catherine lets nick have some control giving him a false sense that he can out compete her in her game even though he has no chance of achieving this she teases him and seduces him at the start then lets go of her control for a moment and lets nick have sex with her very aggressively as nick is about to climax she scratches her nails down his back drawing blood. This startles Nick and he abruptly stops he is now very frustrated because Catherine denied him is orgasm and also very tired from the aggressive sex Catherine then rolls on top of him regaining full control. Nick tries to continue the sex pushing up to Catherine kissing her but he is now weak she holds his arms down and calms him down. She then slowly reaches under her pillow and to nicks terror pulls out a white silk scarf and pulls it past his face so he completely sees it and he understands what is going to happen. Nick watches her as she sits atop of him smiling as she prepares to tie him to her bed. Nick watches her terrified because he knows what this could mean for him but he can not resist the pleasure Catherine loosely ties Nick to her bed as nick starts to panic but it is to late she restrains him completely with the scarf and just like she did with Boz she rides Nick leaning back causing nick to thrust and buckle while moaning in pleasure but also with fear but unlike Boz Nick gets to climax and does not get stabbed to death.

Tramell's lesbian lover, Roxy, unsuccessfully attempts to kill Curran and dies in a car crash. Tramell's apparent grief over Roxy's death leads Curran to doubt her guilt. Curran then learns that as a college student, Tramell had a lesbian encounter with Beth Garner, a police psychologist he previously had an affair with. Upon finding the manuscript to Tramell's latest novel, Curran realizes that Moran is in danger; he is too late to stop Moran's apparent murder by Garner, whom he shoots when he thinks she is retrieving a weapon. Evidence collected in Beth's apartment points to her as the killer of Boz, Nilsen, Moran, and her own husband. She is ultimately branded as the killer.

Curran is left confused and dejected, knowing from the manuscript that Tramell was involved in Moran's murder and somehow set up Garner. When he tries to confront her, the two end up making love. During a session of pillow talk, Tramell reaches for something under the bed before abruptly resuming sex. The camera pans below the bed to show Tramell's weapon of choice—an ice pick— implying that she could kill Nick Curran.

Basic Instinct 2

Fifteen years after the events of the first movie, Tramell speeds through London in a sports car with Kevin Franks, an English football player. After taking Franks' hand to masturbate herself and reach climax, Tramell crashes the car into the Thames river and ultimately leaves Franks to drown. When Scotland Yard finds evidence of her culpability in the death, Tramell is made to take therapy sessions with a court-appointed psychologist, Dr. Michael Glass (David Morrissey). At her trial, Glass testifies that Tramell is a narcissist who suffers from a pathological "risk addiction", showing no regard for right or wrong. However, Glass' testimony is deemed insufficient, and Tramell goes free.

Tramell begins playing mind games with Glass, who finds himself becoming both frustrated and increasingly intrigued by her. Eventually, he succumbs to temptation and begins an illicit affair with Tramell. However, following the murder of his ex-wife's partner—a journalist planning to write a negative story about Glass—he suspects that she is trying to frame him for the killing. As more people close to Glass turn up dead, his obsession with Tramell grows to the point where it threatens his career and livelihood. In the meantime, Glass conducts a survey for the detective Spt. Roy Washburn (David Thewlis), who has taken the Trammell's case and he is now investigating the murders, and discovers aggravating elements for his earlier professional life. Eventually, Glass himself can no longer tell right from wrong and now he suspects that everything was designed by the corrupt officer in order the latter to nail the writer.

During Glass' confrontation with Tramell, she reveals that her latest novel is based on the present situation, featuring characters based on herself, Glass, and the victims. Tramell gives to Glass a draft of her new book, in which suggests that her next victim is his colleague, Dr. Gardosh (Charlotte Rampling). However, this turns out to be a ruse tricking Glass into having a violent confrontation with Gardosh and subsequently shooting Detective Washburn. Glass is subsequently committed to a mental hospital, where Tramell claims that neither the novelist has never killed anyone nor the cοp and that the person who committed the crimes was all along the psychologist. This development, according to the writer, has given a better end to her latest book. Αs in the original film, so in the sequel, the end is ambiguous; Either Glass is left to silently rage at his predicament unable to react sitting in his wheelchair or a light enigmatic smile appears on his lips as a result of his satisfaction that for what he had caused he avoided the prison.

Tramell's victims in Basic Instinct

Prior to and during Basic Instinct, the following people met a violent death, almost all of them killed by Catherine:

Name Identity Method Supposed Motive
Deaths prior to Basic Instinct
Marvin and Elaine Tramell Catherine's parents Boat explosion To see if she could get away with it, inheritance
Noah Goldstein Catherine's college counselor Stabbed with an ice pick Unknown
Manny Vásquez Catherine's fiance Killed in the ring during a (possibly rigged) boxing match N/A
Joseph Garner Elizabeth Garner's husband Shot during a drive-by shooting To get back at Elizabeth
Deaths during Basic Instinct
Johnny Boz Catherine's boyfriend Stabbed with an ice pick during sexual intercourse To copy her novel and give herself an alibi
Roxy Catherine's lesbian lover Car accident while being pursued by Nick N/A
Officer Martin Nilsen SFPD Internal Affairs officer Shot in the head To put Nick in the same situation as her
Gus Moran Nick's partner Stabbed with an ice pick in an elevator Copying her newest book
Elizabeth Garner Her and Nick's former lover Shot by Nick N/A

A potential victim of hers is Nick Curran, who is almost stabbed during the film's final scenes. The ending is ambiguous: either Catherine retires from her criminal career for good or only postpones killing Nick. Incidentally, Nick Curran has disappeared by the second movie. During an interview in Spain, Sharon Stone commented that "poor Nick is dead," implying with a swift stabbing motion that an ice pick was indeed used.


  1. ^ Vary, Adam B. (June 1, 2010). "The 100 Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years: Here's our full list!". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved July 7, 2012. 

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