After committing numerous crimes against cinema, director Paul Verhoeven took a shot at redemption with Black Book. Carice Van Houten stars in this "barnstorming" WWII drama set in Verhoeven's native Holland, which put him back in the critics' good books. It's far from being a stern tribute to the war dead though, as the Showgirls director squeezes in some nudity between bomb blasts.
An Open Book
In a wide-ranging interview, Van Houten admits that she was "a little worried" about working with Verhoeven and frequently referred to him on set as "dirty old man." Apparently he just laughed at this (before asking her to drop her knickers) and yet the actress comes to the conclusion that Verhoeven is actually quite "sweet" and his concern for her welfare was almost "paternal". (Yeesh.) Later on Van Houten talks about researching the role of women in the Dutch Resistance and trying to understand the personal plight of her character.
Turning Over A New Leaf
In a separate interview Verhoeven is quite frank about the rocky path that lead to Black Book. He talks of becoming disillusioned with the films he was being offered in Hollywood, naming Hollow Man in particular (oh, the irony...) and says that he resolved from that point onwards to only make films that he "really cared about."
On the matter of his penchant for violence and nudity, Verhoeven is characteristically blithe. He reveals that a scene where Van Houten is showered in human sewage had to be shot several times which she found "highly annoying". In fact she got so irate that when the director called a wrap she demanded he jump in the sludge and "roll around with her". Well, of course he was only too happy to oblige…
Unfortunately there is no behind-the-scenes footage (sorry, boys), but the interviews certainly do offer more than the usual footnotes.
Black Book (Zwartboek) DVD is released on Monday 30th April 2007.