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Director Paul Verhoeven talks reboots, the state of Hollywood films, crowdsourcing, and not taking things too seriously

04.23.2013

Veteran director Paul Verhoeven (ROBOCOP, TOTAL RECALL, STARSHIP TROOPERS) is at Tribeca this week, debuting his crowdsourced film, TRICKED, which is an experimental "choose your own adventure" type piece, where "after filming the first five minutes of a professionally written script, Verhoeven and associates appealed to the nation's citizens to write the next five minute chapter of a film, submitting their scripts and waiting for Verhoeven and his team to try to assemble the various dialogue, plot twists and inanities into a coherent installment." A compelling experiment, for sure, and a far cry from the blood-soaked satire he's so well known for.

Verhoeven spoke to THR about the film, his feelings on Hollywood today, the rise of independent/crowdsourced films, reboots of his own films, and not taking the fantasy genre too serious.

On his regrets for making HOLLOW MAN:

I decided after Hollow Man, this is a movie, the first movie that I made that I thought I should not have made. Okay, it made money and this and that, but it really is not me anymore. I think many other people could have done that. I don’t think many people could have made Robocop that way, or either Starship Troopers. But Hollow Man, I thought there might have been twenty directors in Hollywood who could have done that. I felt depressed with myself after 2002."

On the rise of independent films vs. studio films:

"I think there must be an upcoming for independent movies, because young people that want to express themselves, why would they go to the studios? Because they are immediately supposed to write Transformers 20 or something, Superman III, IV, V, VI, VII. But that’s boring. I think there might be a backlash against the let’s say, the uniformity of American cinema now, which, if I asked my friends in Holland, they say, 'We don’t go to these anymore. We’ve seen them for twenty years.' And until now, they’d watch these repeats. But I think with young people, it might not be what they want, because it’s very difficult to express yourself."

On his apparent satisfaction with the failure of the TOTAL RECALL reboot:

"That was fun. Also because they had been arrogant in interviews. Both the producer and Colin Farrell both had been bashing the old one. Colin Farrell called it kitsch, and people sent it to me immediately of course. I have a feeling that making these kind of idiotic things, that is Total Recall, Robocop, Superman, Spider-Man, it’s all completely nonsense. It’s not about anything that has any reality to it, unless you fill it in. And you have to put your own personality into it."

On not taking the fantasy elements so seriously:

"But I feel if you take these things too seriously, then you have a problem too. So I feel like you need to know that the story is crazy. Implanting memories is not completely crazy, but half crazy. So I think if you start to take that completely serious, like this is the reality of life, then I feel that you are really in dangerous territory. And I think that certainly in Total Recall, that was clear, because it didn’t work anymore. And I’m hoping that Robocop will use a little wink wink once in awhile."

I'm a Verhoeven fan for life, especially after the influential classics he's created. Although he's taken the John Woo route and returned to his home country to make films, I am still holding out hope that we'll get one more blood-soaked Hollywood romp (such as the recently announced THE LEGEND OF CONAN) before he turns in. They simply don't make 'em like that anymore and if anyone still could, it's Verhoeven.

TRICKED is currently screening at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Extra Tidbit: Like Michael Bay apologizing for Armageddon yesterday, I don't find Hollow Man to be nearly as bad as Verhoeven does. It may not be his best, but it's not his worst, either. Also, it gave us a topless Rhona Mitra. So, yeah.

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