Why'd RoboCop/Starship Troopers director turn to Jesus?

Wonder what RoboCop and Starship Troopers bad-boy director Paul Verhoeven's been up to lately? How about writing a scholarly book about Jesus?

That's just what he's done, according to a report on The Wall Street Journal's Speak Easy blog.

Before you get the wrong idea, the sex-and-violence director of Basic Instinct hasn't gone religious on us: He's a longtime researcher for the Jesus Seminar in Los Angeles, a group that tries to get at the root of the historical figure of Jesus. In his book, Verhoeven explicitly calls himself a "nonbeliever."

Here's more from Speak Easy:

Paul Verhoeven, director of "Robocop," "Basic Instinct" and "Starship Troopers," has long been known for perfecting the art of the subversive blockbuster.

However, he may have topped that feat with his latest achievement: "Jesus of Nazareth" (Seven Stories Press), a quasi-scholarly, 200-page portrayal of Christianity's most emblematic figure from a realistic perspective.

The newly released book, which reflects Verhoeven's 25 years of research as a member of the Jesus Seminar in Los Angeles, blends historical insights with the filmmaker's flair for drama. ...

Although he describes himself in "Jesus of Nazareth" as a "non-theologian, non-believer and a movie director to boot," Verhoeven seemed less interested in dispelling the mythology of Jesus (whom he believes to have existed) than in fleshing out the darker details of the alleged messiah's life. He compared biblical descriptions of Jesus performing exorcisms to "The Exorcist," saying, "This was not a light touch. It was much more violent."

So the natural question: Will he make a movie out of this? Don't count on it: Verhoeven says he doesn't think Hollywood would be interested.

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