Paul Verhoeven Poster


Jump to: Overview (2)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trade Mark (11)  | Trivia (36)  | Personal Quotes (26)  | Salary (2)

Overview (2)

Born in Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Paul Verhoeven graduated from the University of Leiden, with a degree in math and physics. He entered the Royal Netherlands Navy, where he began his film career by making documentaries for the Navy and later for TV. In 1969, he directed the popular Dutch TV series, Floris (1969), about a medieval knight. This featured actor Rutger Hauer, who has appeared in many of Verhoeven's later films. Verhoeven's first feature, Diary of a Hooker (1971) (trans. "What do I See?"), was released in 1971. However, it was his second, Turkish Delight (1973), with its combination of raw sexuality and a poignant story-line, that gained him great popularity in the Netherlands, especially with male audiences. When his films, especially Soldier of Orange (1977) and The 4th Man (1983), received international recognition, Verhoeven moved to the US. His first US film was Flesh+Blood (1985) in 1985, but it was RoboCop (1987) and, especially, Total Recall (1990) that made him a big box office success. Sometimes accused of portraying excessive violence in his films, Verhoeven replies that he is only recording the violence of society. Verhoeven has co-scripted two of his films: Soldier of Orange (1977) and Flesh+Blood (1985). He also directed an episode of the HBO Deadly Nightmares (1983) TV series. Several of his films have been photographed by Jost Vacano, including the hit cult film, Starship Troopers (1997), starring Casper Van Dien.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: R.J. Lahey <rlahey@random.ucs.mun.ca>

Spouse (1)

Martine Verhoeven (7 April 1967 - present) ( 3 children)

Trade Mark (11)

Famous for his extremely violent, yet intelligent, science fiction films (RoboCop (1987), Total Recall (1990), Starship Troopers (1997) and Hollow Man (2000)).
Frequently works with screenwriter Gerard Soeteman (on his Dutch films), photographer Jost Vacano, and Rutger Hauer (Turkish Delight (1973), Katie Tippel (1975), Soldier of Orange (1977), Spetters (1980) and Flesh+Blood (1985)).
A lot of his films include media coverage of some kind, ranging from real archive footage (Soldier of Orange (1977) ) to fictional news (RoboCop (1987), Total Recall (1990), Starship Troopers (1997)) and sportscasts (Spetters (1980)).
Heavy use of Christian symbolism (Turkish Delight (1973),Spetters (1980), The 4th Man (1983), Flesh+Blood (1985), RoboCop (1987), Basic Instinct (1992) )
Sexually-charged subject matter (Turkish Delight (1973), Basic Instinct (1992), Showgirls (1995) and Black Book (2006)).
His films usually have the two main antagonists hostile to each other (Dick Jones and Clarence Boddicker in RoboCop (1987), Cohaagen and Richter in Total Recall (1990), Catherine Trammel and Beth Garner, the two main suspects in Basic Instinct (1992), who were possibly framing each other and Ludwig Muntze and Gunther Franken in Black Book (2006))
Use of Nazi symbolism/imagery. Examples: The characters played by Kurtwood Smith in Robocop and Neil Patrick Harris in Starship Troopers are patterned after Heimrich Himler of Hitler's SS. The society of Earth in Starship Troopers is patterned after Nazi Germany.
Strong visual style with heavy use of special effects
Has had actors who were not always admired for their acting give unusual performances in his films (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Elizabeth Berkely and Casper Van Dien to name a few).
Often tackles controversial topics that have no easy resolution (mental state of being, rape, murders, sex, a second chance at life and media coverage are often utilized).
Often works with the same actors twice; frequently casts Rutger Hauer (6 times), Dolf de Vries (4 times) and Jeroen Krabbé (3 times).

Trivia (36)

Was a member of the Leiden students body "Minerva", which plays a central role in his acclaimed Soldier of Orange (1977), based on Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema's book.
Became the first nominee ever to actually show up at the Razzie Awards. He personally accepted the 'Worst Director' and 'Worst Picture' awards for Showgirls (1995).
Of all his films, claimed that Starship Troopers (1997) was the only one he would be interested in revisiting for a true sequel (the 2004 Phil Tippett directed Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (2004) did not involve him) but at one point he wanted to do Minority Report (2002) (directed by Steven Spielberg) as a follow-up to his Total Recall (1990).
Says he declined the offer to direct three back-to-back sequels to The Fast and the Furious (2001) and 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003).
Was set to direct a (then record) $150-million epic called "Crusade" starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1995 for Carolco. However, being an independent company, Carolco couldn't take two risks at the same time. Since Verhoeven could not guarantee that Crusade would not get over budget, the studio preferred Renny Harlin's Cutthroat Island (1995), which made Verhoeven decide to do Showgirls (1995) instead, as a favor to Mario Kassar. Harlin's swashbuckler flopped and bankrupted Carolco, so "Crusade" never got made. Given Schwarzenegger's political career and family problems (and the fact that he still owns the rights to the screenplay), as well as the release of the similarly themed Ridley Scott film Kingdom of Heaven (2005), it is unlikely "Crusade" will ever be made, although Verhoeven is still often quoted as saying he'd be interested.
Likes to drink Cola light.
Likes to relax on music from the German hard rock band Rammstein.
His only Hollywood films that have not yet had a sequel are Flesh+Blood (1985) and Total Recall (1990) (although a short-lived Total Recall television series was made). All his other Hollywood epics (RoboCop (1987), Basic Instinct (1992), Showgirls (1995), Starship Troopers (1997) and Hollow Man (2000)) have had one or more sequels made. He did not direct any of them, nor did he have any affiliation with the remakes Total Recall (2012), RoboCop (2014), and the planned 'Starship Troopers'.
Member of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 64th Venice International Film Festival in 2007.
Considers John Landis his only friend in Hollywood.
Showing male full frontal nudity was quite normal in Verhoeven's Dutch films up to The 4th Man (1983). After that, he pursued a career in the USA, where the movie rating system wouldn't allowed this. The only full male nudity in his American films is in Hollow Man (2000), which was allowed because the penis was half-invisible and seen through a thermal scanner.
In his book Jesus of Nazareth, published by Seven Stories Press, Verhoeven cites RoboCop (1987) as his "Jesus movie".
Member of the jury at the 'I've Seen Films International Film Festival 2011', founded by Rutger Hauer.
During his army service in the sixties he made a point of attending public events, including every movie premiere of his then very left-wing hippie friends and colleagues, in his full gala-uniform of the Dutch Royal Marines.
Despite directing four science-fiction movies (RoboCop (1987), Total Recall (1990), Starship Troopers (1997) and Hollow Man (2000)), he has admitted that it is definitely not his favorite genre. He has said that as a European, he understood too little about American issues at the time to make a contemporary American movie, and science-fiction movies were a nice way to avoid that problem.
He studied Mathematics and Physics at the University of Leiden.
His last name is correctly pronounced as "Vair-who-ven" instead of "Vair-HO-ven".
Member of the 'Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' (AMPAS).
Was slated to direct a sequel to The Thomas Crown Affair (1999), but the film got shelved for a while. When the project was finally revived, Verhoeven left due to disagreements over the script. The film was ultimately never made.
He was planning to make a pirate movie called 'Mistress of the Sea' with Geena Davis. However, with an estimated budget of 75 million dollar, the studio demanded a male protagonist to increase the chances of financial success. Verhoeven refused to consider Harrison Ford for the part, and the project was abandoned. Ironically, Davis would later star in the ill-fated pirate movie Cutthroat Island (1995), which was so costly that Carolco studios canceled Verhoeven's project 'Crusade'.
He briefly considered directing RoboCop 2 (1990), but could not agree with the studio on the storyline. He ultimately did Total Recall (1990) instead.
Was offered the chance to direct The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988), but did not accept, as he was unsure how to handle the social and political aspects of the movie. He later commented that he liked Philip Kaufman's version of the movie, but felt no regrets over passing on the project.
Considers Das Boot (1981) to be the best war movie ever made. One of his reasons for this is the innovative photography by Jost Vacano, who also shot many of Verhoeven's Dutch and American movies.
Was offered the chance to direct The Silence of the Lambs (1991), but declined, thinking that there would not be an audience for a movie which such a dark tone. He regretted the decision after the movie proved to be both a critical and commercial success.
Did a series of reviews on many well-known and lesser known classic movies in a Dutch newspaper, inspired by Century of Cinema: A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies (1995). The reviews were later published as collected works, and are quite popular with Dutch film students.
Has made films in Dutch, English, German and French.
RoboCop (1987) is his only movie in which he appears in a brief cameo, and it was unintentional. During the scene in the club, he was frenetically moving along with the extras in order to coax them into dancing. The camera picked up some shots of him, and he was very surprised to see that the editor had put some of the footage into the movie (even if for a very brief shot).
President of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival in 2017.
Directed one Oscar-nominated performance: Isabelle Huppert in Elle (2016).
Out of all the films he directed, Starship Troopers (1997) is his personal favorite.
Of all the Dutch filmmakers, who ever worked in Hollywood, he's still the most successful and influential.
After studying Math and Physics (mainly to appease his parents), he started the Dutch film school, but dropped out after a year, stating that he felt he didn't learn anything there. Being self-taught would later cause some friction with professional critics who looked down on amateur filmmakers, and regularly panned his movies.
Had to collect unemployment benefits in between his Dutch movies.
He has stated that Rutger Hauer was to him as Marcello Mastroianni was to Federico Fellini; his 'cinematic alter ego' through whom he could maximally express himself, which was the reason that Verhoeven would always be looking for a role that Hauer could play in his movies.
Had a falling out with frequent collaborator Rutger Hauer on the set of Flesh+Blood (1985), which would become the last movie they made together. After Hauer's death in 2019, Verhoeven stated that they had regular dinners with their respective spouses in the last ten years of Hauer's life, so he considered the matter resolved.
In 2004, Paul Verhoeven finished at number 97 in the election of ''De Grootste Nederlander'' (The Greatest Dutchman).

Personal Quotes (26)

People seem to have this strange idea that films can influence people to be violent, but in my sincere opinion film only reflects the violence of society.
As a director, my goal is to be completely open. Just look at how I portray sex in my films. They're considered shocking and obscene because I like to carefully examine human sexuality. It has to be realistic. I really like documentaries, therefore, reality is important to me when I do fiction. It is often related to my own life, my Dutch background. The art scene in Holland has always attempted to be realistic. The Dutch painters of 400 years ago were meticulously realistic. The example I always like to use is a marvelous painting by Hieronymus Bosch titled "The Prodigal Son". It is a painting of a brothel, and in the corner is a man pissing against a wall. You would never, never find something like that in an Italian, French or English painting of that epoch. The Dutch have always been more scientific, interested in detail; certainly less idealistic and more realistic. The sex scenes in The 4th Man (1983) and Turkish Delight (1973) were based on real experiences I had or a friend had. It's very personal. Of course, I must admit that I love to shock audiences.
The 4th Man (1983) has to do with my vision of religion. In my opinion, Christianity is nothing more than one of many interpretations of reality, neither more nor less. Ideally, it would be nice to believe that there is a God somewhere out there, but it looks to me as if the whole Christian religion is a major symptom of schizophrenia in half the world's population: civilizations scrambling to rationalize their chaotic existence. Subsequently, Christianity has a tendency to look like magic or the occult. And I liked that ambiguity, because I wanted my audience to take something home with them. I wanted them to wonder about what religion really is. Remember that Christianity is a religion grounded in one of the most violent acts of murder, the crucifixion. Otherwise, religion wouldn't have had any kind of impact. With regards to the irony of the violence, much of that probably comes from my childhood experiences during and immediately following the Second World War. In fact, if it hadn't been for the German occupation and then the American occupation, I would have never been a filmmaker.
The sooner we admit our capacity for evil the less apt we are to destroy each other.
People love seeing violence and horrible things. The human being is bad and he can't stand more than five minutes of happiness. Put him in a dark theater and ask him to look at two hours of happiness and he'd walk out or fall asleep.
[on his friend Arnold Schwarzenegger] Arnold has no ego. You can say anything to him. In fact, during his first day on the set [of "Total Recall] he sat me down and told me, "I won't be offended if you talk to me in a direct manner. Say what you feel". That made it easy, because I wouldn't have to be diplomatic and say, "Arnold, could you perhaps move over here and give me a different angle?" I could just go, "Arnold, this is bad. You look stupid!"
It's still difficult if you are a European director and your first language is not English to be exactly aware what the nuances of the American language are. Even after fifty, sixty years you are basically kind of a little bit retarded there.
[on his filmmaking style] American critics always complain about the blandness of mainstream movies, but when you do something more ambiguous and ironic, they are pissed off too. I like putting certain aspects of American society under the magnifying glass and showing them for what they are.
There is a fear about sex in motion pictures, as if sex would undermine morality.
[on Showgirls (1995)] I never watch any of my movies once I finish them, but the one exception is 'Showgirls,' which I watch 20 times over and that is because I truly think it is so elegantly made. I think the movement is elegant, the way it is shot is elegant and the use of color is elegant. (...) The story is really not that good, but I think the movements and the way it is choreographed are a pleasure to watch. (...) Even after all the bad reviews and lack of enthusiasm from the audience, I've always really liked the movie and still do. It's nice to see that certain audiences are now more positive than they were 20 years ago. For me, that's a reason to be happy, but it's not the most important thing in my life. [2015]
[on casting Showgirls (1995)] Charlize [Charlize Theron] also auditioned [for the lead], and I don't recall her having any problem with the nudity at all. She was good and wanted the part, but basically she was not well known enough at the time and just did not fit the part, so we said no. I have full respect for Charlize, but if she had been offered the part then she would probably have been chewed up in the same way they treated Elizabeth. She was very lucky that she did not get the part. [2015]
[on attending the Razzies for Showgirls (1995)] I remember thinking 'nobody will expect it and it'll probably be unpleasant to do but why not, let's go and see what happens!' Nobody knew I was there at first and they kept playing scenes from the movie. Everybody was laughing, but when they started to give out the prizes, to their amazement, I stood up to collect them! (...) I had to walk up there seven times that night. I got Worst Director, Worst Movie, Worst Music, Worst Acting and it just went on...it was absolutely fantastic because by the end of the evening people were screaming and laughing and clapping, it was a really great experience for me. (...) On this occasion, I think attending the Razzies and 'turning the other cheek' was absolutely the right thing to do because it was like a catharsis for me and felt like the end of the whole negative spiral, like it had all been wiped away. As soon as I came out of that room I felt purified in some way. [2015]
[on Basic Instinct (1992)'s most famous scene] There was a student at my university in Holland who was five or six years older than us and she would go to parties like that. She would turn up, sit down and open her legs like that. On one occasion my friend, in all naivety, said to her, 'Are you aware that we can see your vagina between your legs?' And she replied, 'Yes of course, that is the reason I do it.' (...) The scene was not in the original "Basic Instinct" script, but I had dinner with Sharon one evening and told her the story and asked what she thought about it and I saw a devilish look in her eye and she just said, 'Yes!' (...) I was so surprised when my editor used that shot because it was never a very big deal at the time and I didn't really expect him to use it. I had no idea how fascinating the scene would become! (...) I remember a female assistant editor then began watching the scene on loop, basically looking at the shot under a microscope convinced she could see Sharon's vagina. I told her, 'No, you just see the inside of her thighs' and so we began discussing what we could see because, if you look at the scene it is only four frames, so it is very difficult to know exactly what you see because it is only meant to be a suggestion. So we began looking and looking at the celluloid of the film with a magnifying glass and that's when we realized that yes, we could see her vagina. But because the speed at which we shot it, we decided to leave it in, but we never expected it to be so sensational - and yes, it is Sharon Stone's real vagina. [2015]
Right now, Hollywood doesn't fit with my artistic sensibilities. I feel that in France and in Europe, there is enormous respect for filmmakers. This doesn't happen in Hollywood. For us, it's hard to shoot there because they do not want what we want. There, all films must be visible to the greatest number. Money rules everything. The studios have abandoned the quality. Everything is smooth, it idles. They try to avoid controversy. [2016]
[on the humor in Elle (2016)] I've always had it, that sense that a subject as heavy and black needs to be balanced by humor. It protects me from the subject. I'm influenced by Luis Buñuel, I've seen all the movies. [2016]
American cinema today is missing all existential thought. There's no questioning society. No politics. Studios try to make themselves feel good with the movies that make it to the Oscars. [2016]
I went through the RoboCop (2014) [remake] script and it seemed to have the same problems as the Total Recall (2012) remake. There's no humor in it. [The original] Total Recall (1990) was supposed to have Harrison Ford in the lead, but once that fell through and Arnold [Arnold Schwarzenegger] came into the equation the tone of the film had to be changed and we infused a little humor into it. The ["Total Recall"] remake takes place almost entirely on Earth, what a bore! It's also such a self-serious film. [2016]
It takes strong motivation to have to get up at 6 AM and go to bed at midnight for months. I'm also boosted by fear, by the fact of not knowing if I'm able to carry out a project that interests me. Although it is not always easy, to explore unknown territories is what I desire the most. [2016]
[on Showgirls (1995)] Nearly every character in the movie is a bad person except for one girl, Molly, and she is the one who gets raped. Molly is the only really genuinely supportive person and she is punished. The reason I did this was to show that [Las] Vegas is not a nice place and that is basically what the movie is all about. It is possible "Showgirls" was lacking in closure. Even some of my closest collaborators felt that way and have said they thought the rape scene took the fun out of the movie.
[on Showgirls (1995)] We did exactly what we intended to do and we didn't stop at anything, we just went for it. There was never any problem, we just did what we were had set out to do. There was never any question about the nudity and we actually had a very pleasant shoot and everybody thought we were making an interesting movie. In retrospect, Elizabeth may have regretted being so heavily involved with the movie and being so vulnerable to her critics, but when we did it we never had the feeling that this would happen. I've heard a lot of people criticizing Elizabeth's [Elizabeth Berkley] acting, but they criticized everything about the movie so we will never say we were shocked. Also, half of the audience only ever had their eyes below her face, so of course they would say that! Hollywood was pissed off with her because she went further than any actress has gone or will go and I think they have never forgiven her. Her performance pushed the limits and that worried them. They were just so shocked by the movie that they hated her. Elizabeth could only have recovered from the movie by being offered a very different role, but that just didn't happen for her otherwise she would have taken the job. New roles were never offered, so it was impossible for her to make a comeback.
Showgirls (1995) certainly ruined the career of Elizabeth Berkley in a major way. It made my life more difficult, but not to the degree it did Elizabeth's. Hollywood turned their backs on her. If somebody has to be blamed, it should be me because I thought that it was interesting to portray somebody like that. I had hoped the end of the movie would explain why she acted that way, when it's revealed she has convictions linked with drugs, but that too turned out to be a big mistake. I asked Elizabeth to do all that - to be abrupt and to act in that way, but people have been attacking her about for that ever since. I did consider that people would think she had a borderline personality, but that was because her character had history of drug abuse, so I tried to express that through her abruptness.
I believe the problem with Showgirls (1995) has always been that there is still a misunderstanding of the movie. We were making a film that was hyperbolic and an exaggeration and so my intention was always to use a style that was exaggerated in everything. Still to this day it is widely considered a bad movie, but I think that's because people still don't understand it. I used exaggerated nudity, colors and movement. I was trying to make it as exaggerated as Las Vegas is in real life. That is why the musical numbers are as bad as they are - I purposely tried not to make good music in those scenes, but obviously that turned out to be a big mistake. The idea was to make the same loud, sleazy, bad music that you hear in those Vegas shows, because that's how it actually is. That might sound weird and it might have been a mistake in the end, but that was the original idea. I tried to do that with everything and might have failed miserably at conveying that to the audience. I never watch any of my movies once I finish them, but the one exception is "Showgirls", which I watch 20 times over and that is because I truly think it is so elegantly made. I think the movement is elegant, the way it is shot is elegant and the use of color is elegant. The story is really not that good, but I think the movements and the way it is choreographed are a pleasure to watch. Even after all the bad reviews and lack of enthusiasm from the audience, I've always really liked the movie and still do. It's nice to see that certain audiences are now more positive than they were 20 years ago. For me, that's a reason to be happy, but it's not the most important thing in my life.
[on Showgirls (1995)] It would have been much more acceptable if I had asked the writer, Joe Eszterhas, to write it as a murder mystery instead. Audiences would be intrigued by the thrill of finding out who the villain is; so if they asked me to do "Showgirls" again, I would ask them to write the script where somebody gets killed at the beginning. I think the nudity in "Showgirls" would have been more acceptable to the public if there had been an underlying theme of 'Who did this? Who is guilty?' In Basic Instinct (1992) there are some very long sex scenes and they were only possible because all the while the audience is asking if Sharon [Sharon Stone] is going to kill Michael [Michael Douglas] and that was the setup of the movie.
[on Showgirls (1995)] I never thought this continuous bashing of the movie and of Elizabeth [Elizabeth Berkley] would happen. We're sitting with these ruins in front of us. I realized with the nudity and the fact that critics are essentially Puritan that there would be backlash and anger, but I never thought the movie wouldn't do well. So I never accounted that she would be put in such a bad position and I feel terrible about it. If somebody is to blame it's Joe [screenwriter Joe Eszterhas] or me. I think she did exactly what we wanted and what we thought would be good. And apparently we failed. Her performance that everybody is so against is based on a character. The hate towards her character - an edgy, nearly psychotic character - is actually a compliment to her performance.
I would not do a Showgirls (1995) remake - one movie was definitely enough! But we had actually been working on the sequel to "Showgirls" which was going to be called 'Bimbos' and was going to be 'Nomi does Hollywood', but after "Showgirls" was released there was no way anyone was going to give me money for that. If we could just make Elizabeth Berkley 20 years younger now I would love to make 'Bimbos' today. Absolutely, absolutely. I think the world is ready for more.
[press conference for Elle (2016) at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival] It's the producer of the film, Saïd Ben Saïd, who sent me the book by Philippe Djian, and he asked me whether I would like to make a film based on the novel. I read the novel and I said "yes". It's very simple - it wasn't a complicated situation, the film slipped naturally into my life and I felt it was a minor miracle to find something so new, that I had never done before.

Salary (2)

Basic Instinct (1992) $5,000,000
Showgirls (1995) $2,000,000

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