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Paul Verhoeven ( ; born July 18, 1938) is a Dutchmarker BAFTA Award-nominated film director, screenwriter, and film producer who has made movies in both the Netherlandsmarker and the United Statesmarker. Explicitly violent and/or sexual content are trademarks of both his drama and science fiction films. He is best known for directing the Americanmarker feature films RoboCop (1987), Total Recall (1990), Basic Instinct (1992), Starship Troopers (1997), and Hollow Man (2000).

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 9 Academy Award nominations, mainly for editing and effects. Both RoboCop and Total Recall won an Academy Special Achievement Award. In contrast, his film Showgirls (1995) was poorly received and won 7 Golden Raspberry Awards, but has become a cult film over time.

Early life


Verhoeven was born in Amsterdammarker, the Netherlandsmarker, the son of school teacher Wim Verhoeven and hat maker Nel van Schaardenburg. Although born in Amsterdam, the family lived in the village of Slikkerveermarker.

In 1943 the family moved to The Haguemarker, the location of the German headquarters in the Netherlands during World War II. The Verhoeven house was near a German military base with V1 and V2-rocket launchers, which was repeatedly bombed by allied forces. Their neighbours' house was hit and Verhoeven's parents were almost killed when bombs fell on a street crossing. From this period, Verhoeven mentioned in interviews, he remembers images of violence, burning houses, dead bodies on the street and continuous danger. As a small child he experienced the war as an exciting adventure and compares himself with the character Bill Rowan in Hope and Glory (1987).

His father Wim Verhoeven became head teacher on the Van Heutszschool in The Hague and Paul Verhoeven attended this school. Sometimes they watched informative films at home with the school's film projector. Paul Verhoeven and his father also liked to see American films, that were in the cinema after the liberation, such as The Crimson Pirate (1952). They went as many as ten times to see The War of the Worlds (1953). Paul Verhoeven was a fan of the Dutch comic Dick Bos, where the character Dick Bos is a private detective who fights crime using Jujutsu. Verhoeven himself liked comic drawing and created The Killer, a grey character in a detailed story full of revenge. Other fiction he liked were Frankenstein and Rice Burroughs' Barsoom series.

He went to the public secondary school Gymnasium Haganummarker in The Hague. After this he studied from 1955 at the University of Leiden, where he joined the students' corps. He graduated with a M.Sc. double majoring in mathematics and physics.

First films and TV series

Screenshot from A Lizzard Too Much (1960)
Verhoeven made his first film A Lizzard Too Much for the anniversary of his students' corps in 1960. In his last years at university he also attended classes at the Netherlands Film Academy. After this he made three more short films Nothing Special (1961), De Lifters (1962) and Let's Have a Party (1963).

Verhoeven received a doctorandus degree in math and physics from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. He never used his degree, opting instead to invest his energies in a career in film. After his studies he entered the Dutch Navy as a conscript. He made the documentary "Het Korps Mariniers" (The Royal Dutch Marine Corps 1965) about the Navy, which won the French Golden Sun award for military films.

In 1967 he married Martine Tours, with whom he later had two daughters: Claudia (1972) and Helen (1974).

When he left the Navy, he took his skills into Dutch television. First he made a documentary about Anton Mussert named Mussert (1968). His first major success was the 1969 Floris television series, starring Rutger Hauer. The concept of Floris was inspired by foreign series like Ivanhoe and Thierry La Fronde.

Feature films

The Netherlands

Paul Verhoeven's first feature film Business Is Business was released in 1971 and was not especially well received. His first national success did not come until 1973 with Turkish Delight, starring Rutger Hauer and Monique van de Ven. This film is based on a novel by bestselling Dutch author Jan Wolkers and tells a passionate love story of an artist and a liberal young girl from a rather conservative background. The film got an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film in 1974. In 1999 the film received a Golden Calf for Best Dutch Film of the Century. Verhoeven's 1975 film Katie Tippel was again featuring Hauer and van de Ven, but it would not match the success of Turkish Delight.

Verhoeven built on his reputation and had an international success with his Golden Globe nominated film Soldier of Orange. The film is based on a true story about the Dutch resistance in World War II, written by Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema. Soldier of Orange received the 1979 LA Film Critics Award for best foreign language film. It was also nominated for a Golden Globe in 1980.

In 1980 he made the film Spetters with Renée Soutendijk and again Rutger Hauer. The story is sometimes compared to Saturday Night Fever, but the film has more explicit violence and sexuality (in this case also homosexuality) which are sometimes seen as the trademarks of Paul Verhoeven. Verhoeven's film The Fourth Man (1983) is a horror film starring Jeroen Krabbé and Renée Soutendijk. It was written by Gerard Soeteman from a novel by the popular Dutch writer Gerard Reve. This film would be Verhoeven's last Dutch film production until the 2006 film Black Book.

United States

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 Hollywoodmarker for a wider range of opportunities in filmmaking. Working in the USA he made a serious change in style, directing big-budget, sometimes violent, special-effects-heavy smashes RoboCop (1987) and Total Recall (1990)—at the time the most expensive film ever produced. Both RoboCop and Total Recall won an Academy Special Achievement Award, respectively for Sound Effects Editing and for Visual Effects.

Verhoeven followed those successes with the non-S.F., but equally intense and provocative, Basic Instinct (1992). The 9th-highest grossing film of the year, the movie was a return to the themes Verhoeven had explored in Turkish Delight and The Fourth Man. The most notorious scene shows Sharon Stone's character in a police interrogation, where she doesn't wear underwear underneath her skirt. The film received two Academy Awards nominations, for Film Editing and for Original Music.

Then he made the poorly received NC-17 rated film Showgirls (1995), about a stripper in Las Vegas trying to have a career as a showgirl. The film won seven Raspberry Awards including the ones for worst film and for worst director. Paul Verhoeven was the first director to accept the 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.

When Stanley Kubrick was making Eyes Wide Shut in 1999, he called Verhoeven for advice. Also, when Verhoeven was still making Dutch films, Steven Spielberg called him and encouraged him to try his hand in America.

After Basic Instinct and Showgirls, Paul Verhoeven returned to the science fiction, graphic violence, and special-effects that had marked his earlier films with Starship Troopers (1997), based on the noted and controversial science-fiction novel of the same name by Robert A. Heinlein, and Hollow Man (2000). Both films received an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects. Hollow Man had some negative publicity after the truth got out about Sony's fake journalist David Manning.

Return to the Netherlands

After about 20 years of working and living in the United States Paul Verhoeven returned to the Netherlands for the shooting of a new film. Together with his screenwriter Gerard Soeteman he 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 3 Golden Calves at this festival, including one for Paul Verhoeven as Best Director. When the shooting of Black Book was delayed due to financial issues, there were speculations about a new production. The film Beast of Bataan had been announced, but when the shooting for Black Book resumed, the film was never realized.

Frequent collaborators

Verhoeven is unusually loyal in terms of his crew. He has only used two cinematographers over the course of his professional film career: Jost Vacano and Jan de Bont. He worked with the same writer (Gerard Soeteman) for all of his major Dutch films, and his American films (excluding Showgirls but including Flesh and Blood) have been scored exclusively by Basil Poledouris and Jerry Goldsmith. Alan Marshall has produced Paul's last four films.

Jost Vacano, a good friend of Paul's, has worked as the cinematographer on seven of his films, including many of the American ones. The first movie they did together was Soldier of Orange in 1977.

Jerry Goldsmith wrote the scores for Total Recall, Basic Instinct, and Hollow Man. He has said that he considers Total Recall one of the best movie scores he's written.

Basil Poledouris scored three of Paul's films: Flesh & Blood, RoboCop, and Starship Troopers.

Ed Neumeier wrote both RoboCop and Starship Troopers. Ed had a cameo as the condemned man in Starship Troopers.

Jon Davison was an executive producer on RoboCop and a producer on Starship Troopers. He provided the voice of the ED-209 in RoboCop.

Phil Tippett provided special effects for RoboCop and Starship Troopers. He also served as a producer on those films.

Rob Bottin contributed special effects for RoboCop, Basic Instinct, and Total Recall, most notably the design of the Kuato puppet in Total Recall.

Alan Marshall produced four of Verhoeven's films: Basic Instinct, Showgirls, Starship Troopers, and Hollow Man.

Jan de Bont was the cinematographer for all of Paul's Dutch films except Spetters and Soldier of Orange. His last film as a cinematographer was Basic Instinct.

Joe Eszterhas wrote the scripts for Basic Instinct and Showgirls.

Rutger Hauer appeared in five of Paul's Dutch films as well as the Verhoeven-directed TV miniseries Floris. The last time the two worked together was in 1985 on Flesh & Blood.

Rob Houwer produced five of Paul's Dutch films. The two had an acrimonious relationship while they were working together but, as with Rutger Hauer, now seem to be on a friendly basis.

Gerard Soeteman wrote all of Paul's major Dutch projects starting with Floris and ending with Flesh & Blood. They reunited again for Black Book in 2006.

Other activities

Paul Verhoeven is a member of the Jesus Seminar. He is the only member who does not have a degree in biblical studies, although he graduated in mathematics and physics at the University of Leiden. Since he is not a professional biblical exegete, his membership in the Jesus Seminar has occasionally been cited by opponents of the Seminar as a sign that this group is less scholarly than it claims. On the other hand, some Jesus Seminar members were unhappy with Verhoeven's portrayal of Jesus as an eschatological prophet.

In 2007 Verhoeven authored the book Jesus - the man ( ) about the life of Jesus of Nazareth. The book reviews the ideas of Jesus of Nazarethmarker and the alleged corruption of these same ideas over the last 2,000 years. The book may be a preparation for Jesus: The Man, a controversial film project about the life of Jesus. Verhoeven's book tells about the Jewish uprising against Roman rule and characterizes Jesus as terrorist. He rejects all supernatural happenings and miracles as unproved or unprovable.Marianna Sterk of the publishing house J.M. Meulenhoff said "Jesus of Nazareth: A Realistic Portrait," has been released in September 2008 in Dutch and will be translated into English in 2009.






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