Paul Verhoeven (born 18 July 1938) is a Dutch film director, screenwriter, and producer who has made movies in both the Netherlands and the United States. Explicitly violent and/or sexual content and social satire are trademarks of both his drama and science fiction films. He is best known for directing the cult science fiction films RoboCop (1987), Total Recall (1990), and Starship Troopers (1997), and the thriller film Basic Instinct (1992).
Verhoeven’s film Turkish Delight (1973) received the award for Best Dutch Film of the Century at the Netherlands Film Festival. His films altogether received a total of nine Academy Award nominations, mainly for editing and effects, and he also won the Saturn Award for Best Director for Robocop. His Dutch war film Black Book (2006) was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language, and was voted the best Dutch film ever by the Dutch public in 2008.
In contrast, he won the Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Picture and Worst Director for Showgirls (1995); he is one the few people to have accepted their award(s) in person, and the first in history to do so.
The Seattle Times praised Verhoeven by saying, “Director Paul Verhoeven often appears to be a one-man Dutch movie industry,” while The San Diego Union called Verhoeven “a busy bee whose movies pollinate the festival circuit.
Filmmaking in the United States (1983–2000)
Gerard Soeteman also wrote the script for Verhoeven’s first American film, Flesh & Blood (1985), which starred Rutger Hauer and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Verhoeven moved to Hollywood for a wider range of opportunities in filmmaking. Working in the USA he made a serious change in style, directing big-budget, incredibly violent, special-effects-heavy smashes RoboCop and Total Recall, at the time the most expensive film ever produced. Both RoboCop and Total Recall won Academy Special Achievement Awards, for Sound Effects Editing and for Visual Effects respectively.
Verhoeven followed those successes with the equally intense and provocative Basic Instinct (1992), an erotic thriller. The ninth-highest grossing film of the year, the movie was a return to themes Verhoeven had explored in Turkish Delight and The Fourth Man. The film’s most notorious scene shows Sharon Stone’s character in a police interrogation, where she uncrosses her legs, briefly revealing her vulva (she does not wear underwear underneath her skirt). The film received two Academy Awards nominations, for Film Editing and for Original Music.
Verhoeven’s next film was the poorly received, NC-17 rated Showgirls (1995), about a stripper in Las Vegas trying to make a career as a showgirl. The film won seven Raspberry Awards including Worst Film and Worst Director; Verhoeven became the first director to accept his “award” in person.Afterward, the film enjoyed success on the home video market, generating more than $100 million from video rentals and became one of MGM’s top 20 all-time bestsellers.
After Basic Instinct and Showgirls, Verhoeven returned to the science fiction, graphic violence, and special-effects tropes that had marked his earlier films with Starship Troopers (1997), adapted from the controversial novel of the same name by Robert A. Heinlein, and Hollow Man (2000). Each film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects.
Return to the Netherlands (2006–present)
After about 20 years of working and living in the United States Verhoeven returned to the Netherlands for the shooting of a new film. Together with his screenwriter Gerard Soeteman, Verhoeven made Black Book (2006). The director was hailed by the host of the Netherlands Film Festival with the words “The return of a hero”. Black Book eventually won six Golden Calves at this festival, including Best Director. When the shooting of Black Book was delayed due to financial issues, there was speculation about a new production. The film Beast of Bataan had been announced, but once the shooting for Black Book resumed, the other film was never realized. Since his return to European cinema in 2006 with Black Book, Verhoeven has been connected to a large number of projects, but for the moment none of them has come to fruition. Some of those titles were produced with others directors at the helm, such as The Paperboy.
Re-Published: Feb 18, 2013