Paul Verhoeven on ‘Elle’ Star Isabelle Huppert, Producer Said Ben Said and Future Projects

Elle Cannes
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Paul Verhoeven has become an unwavering fan of Isabelle Huppert, the star of his critically-acclaimed film “Elle” which reps France in the foreign-language Oscar race.

“Several times during the shoot she became explosive and did things that were not in the script because she was so deep in character. In normal times, I would have said ‘cut’ but her performance was so powerful I couldn’t stop her,” said Verhoeven, who was just tapped to preside the jury of the upcoming Berlin Film Festival.

“I’ve never seen anything like (Huppert’s performance) in my life. Somebody who is so into the part and so creative inside that part. I think she added so much to the movie,” added the filmmaker, whose credits include “Basic Instinct,” “Total Recall” and “Robocop.”

Speaking of the rejection he faced when he initially tried to cast the film in the U.S., Verhoeven said he hoped A-list actresses who declined to star in “Elle” will see the movie.

Verhoeven also spoke highly of French producer Said Ben Said who made “Elle” happen and said he was developing three more projects with him.

“We had an excellent collaboration not just financially but also artistically; he was very involved in the casting, editing and even at script stage,” said Verhoeven.

The director said Ben Said also helped him trim the film which was originally 2.5 hours long.

Next up, Verhoeven is developing with Ben Said a French Resistance drama, “Lyon 1943” (a working title), a film about Jesus (to be shot in French) and a movie turning on a Medieval women monastery based on a real story that occurred in Italy and will be transposed to France.

Verhoeven revealed he also had a project set in the U.S.: An English-language film called “The Rogue” which he’s doing with American producer Bill Mechanic.

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