Dutch film director, film producer, television director, television producer, and screenwriter Paul Verhoeven was born 18 July 1938 in Amsterdam, however the 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.
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. Paul and his father often saw American films, such as The Crimson Pirate. Verhoeven also liked The War of the Worlds (1953). Paul 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 himself liked comic drawing; he created the character The Killer, he also liked 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, where he joined the elite fraternity Minerva. Verhoeven graduated with a doctorandus (M.Sc.) with a double major, in Mathematics and Physics.
In 1960 Verhoeven made his first film A Lizzard Too Much for the anniversary of his students’ corps. In his last years at university Verhoeven also attended classes at the Netherlands Film Academy. After this he made three more short films Nothing Special (1961), The Hitchhikers (1962) and Let’s Have a Party (1963). Verhoeven never used his maths and physics degree, opting instead to invest his energies in a career in film. After his studies he entered the Dutch Navy as a conscript. In 1965 He made the documentary “Het Korps Mariniers” (The Royal Dutch Marine Corps, which won the French Golden Sun award for military films. In 1967 Verhoeven married Martine Tours, with whom he later had two daughters, Claudia and Helen.
When he left the Navy, Verhoeven took his skills to 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. Floris was inspired by foreign series like Ivanhoe and Thierry La Fronde. Verhoeven’s first feature film Business Is Business was released in 1971 then in 1973 with Turkish Delight, starring Rutger Hauer and Monique van de Ven and based on a novel by bestselling Dutch author Jan Wolkers. This tells the passionate love story of an artist and a liberal young girl from a rather conservative background. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film in 1974. In 1999 the film won a Golden Calf for Best Dutch Film of the Century. Verhoeven’s 1975 film Katie Tippel again featured Hauer and van de Ven.
In 1979 Verhoeven achieved international success with his Golden Globe nominated film Soldier of Orange. starring Rutger Hauer and Jeroen Krabbé. The film, based on a true story about the Dutch resistance in World War II, was 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 Verhoeven made the film Spetters with Renée Soutendijk and Rutger Hauer. The story is sometimes compared to Saturday Night Fever, but the film has more explicit sex and violence 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 was Verhoeven’s last Dutch film production until the 2006 film Black Book. In 1985 Verhoeven released Flesh and 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 U.S. he made a serious change in style, directing big-budget, very violent, special-effects-heavy smashes RoboCop and Total Recall. Both RoboCop and Total Recall won Academy Special Achievement Awards, for Sound Effects Editing and for Visual Effects respectively.
In 1992 Verhoeven released 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 received two Academy Awards nominations, for Film Editing and for Original Music. Verhoeven’s next film was Showgirls (1995), about a stripper in Las Vegas trying to make a career as a showgirl. The film won seven Golden Raspberry Awards including Worst Film and Worst Director; Verhoeven became the first director to accept his “award” in person. In 1997 Verhoeven released the science fiction films Starship Troopers (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. In 2005 Verhoeven returned to the Netherlands and together with his screenwriter Gerard Soeteman, made Black Book (2006) which eventually won six Golden Calves, including Best Director. Verhoeven followed Black Book by directing a movie in French: Elle, an adaptation of a novel by Philippe Djian. The film by Verhoeven, is a psycho-thriller where Isabelle Huppert plays a rape victim, and was selected in the Official Competition at the Cannes International Film Festival.
In 2007 Verhoeven was made a knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion. Verhoeven is also a member of the Jesus Seminar,and 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. In 2007 Verhoeven wrote the book Jesus of Nazareth (Dutch: Jezus van Nazaret) about the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Which 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. And in 2017 Verhoeven was President of the Jury for the 67th Berlin International Film Festival. He is currently filming his next film “The Blessed Virgin”