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Paul Verhoeven

Paul Verhoeven

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: July 18, 1938 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Netherlands Profession: director, screenwriter, actor, producer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Well into his forties before moving to America to work, Dutch-born director Paul Verhoeven has thrived in the world of big budgets, exercising his lurid imagination and tremendous appetite for sex and violence to become a master of modern sensation. His first three Hollywood films were authentic smash hits, beginning with the explicit brutality of "RoboCop" (1987), continuing through the gasp-making action of "Total Recall" (1990) to the viscerally explosive and controversial "Basic Instinct" (1992). Then came "Showgirls" (1995), a sort of topless "All About Eve", which was such a bomb that it has enjoyed a rebirth as a camp classic. Verhoeven was even sport enough to show up and give a speech at the Golden Raspberry Foundation's annual 'Razzie' awards (where the film received seven prizes) commenting that the experience "helped a lot to get rid of that unpleasant feeling of being hurt." Perhaps "Showgirls" was just the tonic to stave off complacency because he rebounded with the turbo-charged sci-fi actioner "Starship Troopers" (1997), raising the standard for spaceship battle effects while offering a disturbing political subtext.

Well into his forties before moving to America to work, Dutch-born director Paul Verhoeven has thrived in the world of big budgets, exercising his lurid imagination and tremendous appetite for sex and violence to become a master of modern sensation. His first three Hollywood films were authentic smash hits, beginning with the explicit brutality of "RoboCop" (1987), continuing through the gasp-making action of "Total Recall" (1990) to the viscerally explosive and controversial "Basic Instinct" (1992). Then came "Showgirls" (1995), a sort of topless "All About Eve", which was such a bomb that it has enjoyed a rebirth as a camp classic. Verhoeven was even sport enough to show up and give a speech at the Golden Raspberry Foundation's annual 'Razzie' awards (where the film received seven prizes) commenting that the experience "helped a lot to get rid of that unpleasant feeling of being hurt." Perhaps "Showgirls" was just the tonic to stave off complacency because he rebounded with the turbo-charged sci-fi actioner "Starship Troopers" (1997), raising the standard for spaceship battle effects while offering a disturbing political subtext.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

2.
  Black Book (2006)
3.
  Hollow Man (2000) Director
4.
  Starship Troopers (1997) Director
5.
  Showgirls (1995) Director
6.
  Basic Instinct (1991) Director
7.
  Total Recall (1990) Director
8.
  Robocop (1987) Director
9.
  Flesh and Blood (1985) Director
10.
  Fourth Man, The (1984) Director

CAST: (feature film)

4.
 Kurosawa: The Last Emperor (2000) Interviewee
6.
 Brave New Worlds (1999) Interviewee
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Directed shorts like "A Lizard Too Much" (1960) and "Let's Have a Party" (1963, which he also produced) before military service
1964:
Served as an officer in the Royal Dutch Navy film corps, making documentaries like "Het Korps Mariniers/The Royal Dutch Marine Corps" (1965)
:
Directed Dutch TV documentaries such as "Mussert" (1968), a profile of a notorious Dutch quisling who collaborated with the Nazis in WWII
1969:
Gained recognition for directing Dutch TV series, "Floris", a medieval adventure starring Rutger Hauer
1971:
Feature film directorial debut, "Wat Zien ik/Business is Business"; first collaboration with screenwriter Gerard Soeteman and producer Rob Houwer
1973:
Acted in "Oh Jonathan, Oh Jonathan"
1973:
Breakthrough film "Turkish Delight", starring Hauer; received Oscar nomination as Best Foreign Film; written by Soeteman and produced by Houwer
1975:
Second feature with Hauer, "Keetje Tippel"; written by Soeteman and produced by Houwer
1979:
First feature as screenwriter (with Soeteman and Kees Holierhoek), "Soldier of Orange"; also directed; Hauer starred as a handsome hero of the Dutch resistance; first association with cinematographer Jost Vacano; produced by Houwer
1980:
First film with Renee Soutendijk starring opposite Hauer, "Spetters"; written by Soeteman
1984:
Reteamed with Soutendijk (as a femme fatale) for noirish "The Fourth Man"; scripted by Soeteman
1985:
US debut (co-produced with the Netherlands), "Flesh + Blood"; also scripted with Soeteman; fifth and last feature to date with Hauer
1987:
Delivered sharp, slick action package with first Hollywood movie "RoboCop", a grim look into the not-too-distant future
1990:
Helmed "Total Recall", another sci-fi film featuring his trademark over-the-top violence; first feature with Sharon Stone
1992:
Scored hit with "Basic Instinct", his first collaboration with screenwriter Joe Eszterhas; film starred Stone as a bisexual femme fatale
1995:
Bombed with "Showgirls", the first mainstream Hollywood film released with an NC-17 rating; second teaming with Eszterhas
1997:
Returned to sci-fi with "Starship Troopers"; reteamed with screenwriter Edward Neumeier, special-effects wizard Phil Tippett and producer Jon Davison, having worked with all on "RoboCop"; sixth collaboration with director of photography Vacano
2000:
Directed the sci-fi tinged thriller "The Hollow Man", co-scripted by William Goldman; production delayed when leading lady Elisabeth Shue tore an Achilles tendon
2006:
Returned to directing with the war drama "Black Book," a story about the resistance in World War II; premiered at the Venice Film Festival
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of Leiden: -
University of Leiden: -

Notes

"Many people were born into a violent environment, of course, but I always had the need to communicate my feelings about it. I like looking at violence, sure. But in real life I've never used my hands to touch a human being in a violent way." --Paul Verhoeven to The London Times, January 7, 1996

"If it's only straight entertainment, I get bored. If it's only sending people out of the theater two hours later as empty as they came in, basically I couldn't do that. I need to see something in a movie that appeals to me from an existensial point of view. That doesn't mean that that's the primary objective of the movies I made, but I need it for myself. It's a simple question of survival: I'm not able to spend one and a half years on a movie if I don't feel it has meaning to me in some way." --Verhoeven, to Dan Persons for Cinefantastique, June 1967

"I was only six when the Nazis arrived. It sounds strange, but as a filmmaker I love the imagery of what I saw as a child when Holland was occupied. Rocket launchers and tanks were across the street from my house. One day a group of Dutch Nazi sympathizers threw me up against a wall and put a gun to my head. I peed my pants. That part I didn't love so much. But it was very emotional, to say the least.

"When I was a child, there was bombing all the time. You would look up in the sky and see fire. I don't think you can ever erase that image from your brain. When the starship explodes in ["Starship Troopers"], it's based on what I saw as child looking up in the sky. It was Allies' planes bombing the German planes. I'd see them catch on fire and fall close to my house. Then the kids would go looking for the dead pilot the next day." --Verhoeven, quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times, November 2, 1997

About "Showgirls": "I think that movie would have been better served by insisting that it was not a peep show and that it would not give you an erection. In fact, you'd probably be impotent for the rest of your life because you thought sex was so awful. That's more the movie, isn't it? It's more a study of evil or the use of sex as a tool to get anywhere you want to be, than a movie to make you horny." --Verhoeven, to Jeff Dawson, EMPIRE, February 1998

On the cryptofascist world of the humanoids in "Starship Troopers": "If you think this is an ideal society, then what's the price we have to pay for that? That's why we show the news item with people getting caught in the morning, tried in the afternoon and executed in the evening. The movie seduces you into thinking this is fine, but later you realize you might have identified with a system that contains fascist ideology. The ambiguity isn't in the enemy but in ourselves. That's the real political context of the movie." --Verhoeven, quoted in Time Out New York, November 13-20, 1997

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Martine Verhoeven. Married in 1967.

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