Date of birth
18 july 1938, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Paul Verhoeven (18. july 1938, Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Paul Verhoeven born 18 July 1938) is a Dutch director, screenwriter, and film producer active in both the Netherlands and Hollywood.
His blending of graphic violence and sexual content with social satire are trademarks of both his drama and science fiction films. He directed the films Turkish Delight (1973), Keetje Tippel (1975), Soldier of Orange (1977), Spetters (1980), The Fourth Man (1983), Flesh and Blood (1985), RoboCop (1987), Total Recall (1990), Basic Instinct (1992), Showgirls (1995), Starship Troopers (1997), Hollow Man (2000), Black Book (2006) and Elle (2016).
“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.”
Turkish Delight received the award for Best Dutch Film of the Century at the Netherlands Film Festival. Verhoeven's films altogether received a total of nine Academy Award nominations, mainly for editing and effects.
He 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 by the Dutch public,
in 2008, as the best Dutch film ever made. In contrast, he won the Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Picture and Worst Director for Showgirls; he is one of the few people to have accepted their Golden Raspberry awards in person, and was the first person to go to the ceremony to receive it.
In 2016 he directed Elle, which won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
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-Tribune called Verhoeven "a busy bee whose movies pollinate the festival circuit."
Paul Verhoeven was born in Amsterdam on 18 July 1938, the son of a school teacher, Wim Verhoeven, and a hat maker, Nel van Schaardenburg. His family lived in the village of Slikkerveer.
In 1943 the family moved to The Hague, 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).
Verhoeven's father became head teacher at the Van Heutszschool in The Hague, and Paul attended this school. Sometimes they watched informative films at home with the school's film projector. 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 ten times to see The War of the Worlds (1953). Verhoeven was a fan of the Dutch comic Dick Bos (nl). The character Dick Bos is a private detective who fights crime using jujutsu. Verhoeven liked comic drawing; he created The Killer, a character in a detailed story of revenge. Other fiction he liked were Frankenstein and the Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom series.
Verhoeven attended public secondary school Gymnasium Haganum in The Hague. Later, beginning in 1955, he studied at Leiden University. Verhoeven graduated with a doctorandus (MSc) with a double major, in Mathematics and Physics.
Verhoeven is a member of the Jesus Seminar, and he is the only member who does not have a degree in biblical studies. He graduated with a degree in mathematics and physics from 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. For example, Luke Timothy Johnson criticizes the Jesus Seminar's methods on exegetical grounds, and also criticizes what he perceives to be a dependence on the theatrical and an attempt to manipulate the mainstream media. He singles out Verhoeven as a key player in the media activities of the Jesus Seminar. On the other hand, some Jesus Seminar members were unhappy with Verhoeven's portrayal of Jesus as an eschatological prophet.
In 2007, Verhoeven wrote the book Jesus of Nazareth (Dutch: Jezus van Nazaret) about the life of Jesus of Nazareth. The book reviews the ideas of Jesus of Nazareth and the alleged corruption of these same ideas over the last 2,000 years. Co-written with Verhoeven's biographer Rob Van Scheers, the book is the culmination of the research Verhoeven conducted in preparation for Jesus: The Man, a motion picture about the life of Christ. The book tells about the Jewish uprising against Roman rule and characterizes Jesus as a radical political activist, downplaying any supernatural events and miracles as unproved or unprovable. Jesus of Nazareth: A Realistic Portrait was released in September 2008 in Dutch and was published in English in May 2010 by Seven Stories Press.
Robert J. Miller, author of Born Divine, said about Jesus of Nazareth, "Verhoeven breaks down the gospels...and reassembles them into a unique...reconstruction of the historical Jesus."
In April 2010, Verhoeven hinted that his next potential film project would be an adaptation of a "Hitchcockian" video game set in 1914. Although he would not reveal the title, there was speculation that the project might be an adaptation of The Last Express, a 1997 game designed by Prince of Persia creator Jordan Mechner. In October 2011, Verhoeven confirmed The Last Express as the identity of the game in question, and revealed that he is considering filming it in 3D. Mechner has gone on record as saying he is a fan of Verhoeven's Jesus of Nazareth. Verhoeven's interpretation of Jesus of Nazareth will reportedly include Jesus as an exorcist, and a believer in the Kingdom of God on Earth.
Year Film Director Writer Notes
1960 Eén hagedis teveel Yes Short film
1961 Nothing Special Yes Short film
1962 De lifters Yes Short film
1963 Feest! Yes Short film
1965 Het korps Mariniers Yes Short documentary film
1970 Portret van Anton Adriaan Mussert Yes Television documentary film
1971 Business Is Business Yes
1973 Turkish Delight Yes
1975 Keetje Tippel Yes
1977 Soldier of Orange Yes Yes
1980 Spetters Yes
1981 All Things Pass Yes Television film
1983 The Fourth Man Yes
1985 Flesh and Blood Yes Yes
1987 RoboCop Yes
1990 Total Recall Yes
1992 Basic Instinct Yes
1995 Showgirls Yes
1997 Starship Troopers Yes
2000 Hollow Man Yes
2006 Black Book Yes Yes
2012 Tricked Yes Yes User-generated film
2016 Elle Yes
2021 Benedetta Yes Yes Post-production
Director - Selected filmography
Turkish Delight (1973)