March/April 2011

Paul Verhoeven

[Filmmaker]

microinterviewed by Jules Moore

This issue features a microinterview with Paul Verhoeven, conducted by Jules Moore. Verhoeven is a Dutch filmmaker and author who is best known for directing a heap of Hollywood’s most sleazy and sensational blockbusters: RoboCop, Total Recall, Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers, and Showgirls. In his anxiety-ridden twenties, Verhoeven found himself drawn to the world of the occult, eventually joining the Jesus Seminar, where he remains an active member. In 2008 he released his first book, Jesus of Nazareth, which questions the myth and reality of Jesus Christ. Verhoeven assumes a no-bullshit position on the historical Jesus as man and political radical, flawed and irrepressibly flatulent.

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Microinterview with Paul Verhoeven, Part II.

THE BELIEVER: There are all these words attached to you: controversial, shocking, provocative, and sleazy. It seems a bit ridiculous. Like we’re so precious that we can’t deal with naked breasts or poo.

PAUL VERHOEVEN: I would say it’s more like the United States. There are other countries that are a bit better and other countries that are ten times worse than here, of course. But [the United States is] a little difficult, of course, with sexuality. Sexuality is not a highly developed topic in the United States.…When I made Showgirls, I never realized how far beyond the norm I was directing. Coming from Europe, I was more inclined to take that as a part of life. Sexuality is the motor of life. Without sexuality there would not be any babies, and our species would stop, wouldn’t it? I think sexuality is probably more important than anything. More important than religion, of course.

BLVR: Would you say that at this point, America is more or less accepting of the kinds of shocking or risqué things you did in the ’90s with movies like Basic Instinct?

PV: I think it would be very difficult to make Basic Instinct now, in this current climate in Los Angeles. The studios prefer now to do mostly PG or PG-13. All these big movies are PG-13. I think that was different in the ’90s, when it was OK to make an R-rated movie. Showgirls was NC-17. It was beyond the norm as an X-rated movie. Basic Instinct got an R rating, finally, after a lot of editing to make it acceptable. But still, an R rating was a normal and acceptable thing for a studio. Nowadays, when you start to work on these movies, or discuss movies, the studios prefer NC-17. If you look at the folks who run the cinema complex, it’s rare to find an R-rated movie, it’s mostly a PG or PG-13.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

To read the full piece, please visit our store to purchase a copy of the magazine.

Jules Moore is a freelance writer and the associate editor of Hobo magazine. She transports a canoe’s worth of belongings between New York, Winnipeg, and Vancouver.

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