Roger Avary set to write ‘Jesus’ for controversial director Paul Verhoeven

Paul Verhoeven is determined to make a film about Jesus Christ.

In related news, Paul Verhoeven is determined to get himself shot by someone who can’t handle any discussion of Jesus as anything less than the literal Son Of God.

While I love “Robocop” dearly, I am convinced that Paul Verhoeven ruined his career by making that film.  Before that, he was an interesting, provocative European director whose sensibilities were resolutely art-house.  Anyone who has ever spoken to Verhoeven can testify to his keen intellect and his almost innate desire to push buttons.  I think that’s the way he attacks any subject.  He loves to ask questions because he is fascinated by human behavior, particularly at the polar extremes of good and bad.

His Hollywood career has seemed like one long misuse of his talents, and it’s been painful watching him try to turn garbage like “Basic Instinct” or “The Hollow Man” into something worth his time and his skill.  At least with “Black Book,” it seemed like he was working on material with some weight to it again.  It was a huge step in the right direction.

Now, as Hollywood starts the inevitable parade of remakes of his films, with “Total Recall” this summer and “Robocop” next year, Verhoeven seems to be reinventing himself again, and I’m all for it.  For years now, he’s been talking about wanting to make a movie about the historical Jesus, and according to today’s reports, it looks like he’s taken one big step closer to making that happen.

Roger Avary is looking to rebuild his career, and I am rooting for him to make it happen.  I still maintain that his “Killing Zoe” is one of the great neglected films of the ’90s, and his adaptation of “Rules Of Attraction” deserved far better than it got from audiences.  Bringing Avary in as a writer is a strong move, and I’m curious to see how he takes Verhoeven’s material and turns it into a narrative.

And while I was sort of kidding about Verhoeven and the response to his film at the start of this piece, the truth is that anyone who is allowed to be part of The Jesus Seminar is someone whose scholarly efforts have already been acknowledged and rewarded, and if he does finally get the film made, my bet is that it’s going to be focused on creating a dialogue about the nature of Christ and not just looking to ladle on the empty shock.