When we asked PEOPLE.com readers to send in questions for Sharon Stone, many fans had one thing on their minds: Just how does the actress, now 48, manage to look so darn good and raise three kids–Roan, 6, Laird, 17 months, and Quinn, 5 months? “You look great and have your sanity, raved one reader, “so you must be doing something right.” Stone, who is getting Oscar buzz for her turn as a hairdresser in the drama Bobby, spoke with People s J.D. Heyman and revealed all.
What s the secret to your eternal youth?
– Olympia Wong, Sendai, Japan
To look good starts from the inside, so you need to be honest. Lying can make you look bad. I don t use caffeine, I very rarely have alcohol. I believe in (eating in) moderation. But I m going to eat a croissant when I m in Paris, because I think it s healthy to have fun.
Would you consider getting remarried?
– Cole Woodson, Collegeville, Pa.
I don t know. I m not big on marriage. But when I married before (to Phil Bronstein from 1998 to 2003; her first marriage to producer Michael Greenberg ended in 1987), the people I married were very big on marriage, supposedly. When I do something, I do it with a lot of determination. In the modern world, a lot of people get married like shampoo and a cream rinse. Like, let s get married and let s get divorced. And I can t relate to that.
Are you planning on having more kids?
– Tania Castillo, Torrance, Calif.
I think we re good. Three is a wonderful number. I can t say for sure, because you never know. Life is life.
Was there a lightbulb moment that got you involved in charity work?
– Brenda Macon, Houston
I ve been an activist for a really long time. I ve been with the American Foundation for AIDS Research for 11 years, and before that I worked on causes like pediatric AIDS and the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The first time I made a substantial check, maybe Total Recall, I got very excited for a week or two. Then I thought, Okay, I d better figure out what good I m going to be doing here.
What inspires your style?
– Zachary Davis, New Orleans
I get inspired by life and all things in it. I might get inspired by a Chinese maple tree one day or by a painting I saw in a museum or the way I saw someone else dress.
What s the worst red carpet outfit you ve ever worn?
– Sean Green Deer Park, N.Y.
You know, they all seem good when you re leaving the house. Frankly, the people that talk about your look–look at them! You re going, I know you re an expert, but I m not so sure about that ensemble! What is the greatest challenge you ve encountered as a working mother?
– Allison Serafin, Houston
Coming back from being sick (after a 2001 brain aneurysm) and then quickly having two more children. I had just gone through a divorce (in 2003 from newspaper editor Bronstein), and that s always rough. It s like you re the phoenix, trying to get up out of those ashes. (I turned a corner) just seeing my children love each other so much, laughing, hugging and kissing each other.
What would you wish for in the next five years?
–Maria Mat, Thessaloniki, Greece
I would wish for health in (my) family because we’ve had a lot of health challenges. My dad had esophageal cancer, which he recovered from and we’re very grateful about, and I had my situation (a brain aneurysm), and my sister is challenged with lupus. So, I just wish health for everybody. I think that’s the most important thing.
Do you ever feel insecure about your looks, career or being a mother?
– Julie Schiebner, Concord, Calif.
Every person has moments of insecurity, and everybody has someone around who d like to help them feel insecure! Try not to hang out with them. Those are just the people who don t have enough to do.
What role challenged you most as an actress?
–Penny Summers, Mebane, N.C
I would say my role in (the upcoming) Alpha Dog because I was playing a real woman, as I did in Casino. And these are the most complicated parts when you are playing a real person. I was playing a person who lost her son to gang violence. I spent time with her and she went through hell, and I wanted to put that on film. So that was certainly the most challenging thing I ever tried to accomplish.
What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment?
–Kristin Wilkie, Regina, Saskatchewan
I feel that my greatest accomplishment is self-acceptance and acceptance of others because, you know, you meet a few stinkers along the way. As we grow older we let go of the “should be” feeling and then we start to pay a little bit better attention about who we let into our lives. And I think we start to understand a little bit more thoughtfully that what is really attractive in life is kindness, consistency, empathy, integrity and honesty. These are the qualities worth hanging out for. But I think it takes time. And I’m not in a race.