‘Total Recall’ Reboot’s Failure Was Delicious Schadenfreude For Paul Verhoeven

This is the greatest picture of Paul Verhoeven ever. (second from right)

The Hollywood Reporter interviewed Dutch director Paul Verhoeven, whose output is perhaps the prime example of “hit or miss.” He directed sci-fi cult classics like the original Total Recall and RoboCop. Then again, he also directed Hollow Man and Showgirls, the latter of which earned him a Razzie award that he accepted in person.

The 73-year-old auteur took a six year break from directing when Hollow Man was panned. But worse than the lack of critical success was the fact that Verhoeven didn’t consider it his own style. “This is a movie, the first movie that I made that I thought I should not have made,” he told THR. “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 20 directors in Hollywood who could have done that. I felt depressed with myself after 2002.”

Paul Verhoeven has returned to directing, premiering his crowdsourced movie Tricked at Tribeca. He tells THR that independent movies like this may be having a comeback. “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.”

He’s not wrong.

It’s when Verhoeven talks about these sequels and remakes that this interview really gets good. Last summer’s Total Recall reboot grossed $198 million worldwide in 2012 dollars, while Verhoeven’s Total Recall grossed $261 million worldwide in 1990 dollars and with nearly half the production budget.

The mention of that failure to launch clearly delights the Dutchman. “That was fun,” he says with a smile. “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,” Verhoeven says, smile growing wider. “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.” [THR]

He’s not wrong.

[Image credits: Robot In Disguise and Short Of The Week]