Having directed Total Recall, Robocop, Starship Troopers, Hollow Man, Showgirls, Basic Instinct, and others, no director has been able to ride the line between terrible and awesome (and awesomely terrible) quite like Paul Verhoeven. The 74-year-old Dutchman recently sat down with GQ on the eve of the release of the remake of one of his most successful films, and as always, the man didn’t disappoint.
GQ: Let’s start with the three-breasted woman: maybe the most iconic image from Total Recall. Was she your idea?
Paul Verhoeven: Well, yes. I had asked for a woman with four breasts. Anatomically that is possible with additional nipples. I saw photographs of that when I was at university. But from an entertainment point of view, I think three breasts were more interesting than four breasts.
That answer is so dense with backstory I wouldn’t even know where to start with the follow up. First of all – four breasts is possible “with additional nipples?” What does that even mean? Isn’t any number possible with additional nipples? And where are these photographs of four-breasted women that were going around when you were in college? Holland, man. It’s a f*cking free-for-all over there. I imagine Holland in the seventies being like a porn version of The Island of Dr. Moreau.
If you’ve ever heard the Total Recall director’s commentary with Verhoeven and Schwarzenegger, you know what a perfect combination of goofy, perverted foreigners those two make. I can only imagine what it must’ve been like on the set. “I vant a hookah viss four breast!” “Ya ya, give her foah breasts and three mulatto ass!“
Like my grabby hands, the conversation quickly shifted from boobs to vaginas, specifically, Sharon Stone’s in Basic Instinct.
GQ: After Basic Instinct, Sharon Stone told people you tricked her into doing that infamous crotch scene—which you’ve denied. Has she ever apologized to you?
Paul Verhoeven: Formally, no. Not on television, say. Not in a public place. But in a private place, at the dinner table, after a glass of wine, we made up. She promised not to say this kind of thing again. And she said it anyhow!
Hey, Sharon, that’s the scene that made you famous. If I was you, I’d take as much ownership of it as I could. I’d love to hear what brilliant lie Verhoeven constructed to “trick” Sharon Stone into showing her beaver straight to the camera in front of an entire film crew. “Sorry, Sharon, there’s a rep from OSHA here and he says panties are a safety hazard. It’s true, my hands are tied.” Then she’d try to argue for a bit, but eventually acquiesce when Verhoeven explained it again through a very official-looking sock puppet.