EXCLUSIVE: Paul Verhoeven Calls RoboCop ‘The American Jesus,’ Is Unexcited By Remake Plans

Paul Verhoeven has Jesus Christ on the brain lately. Of course he does: he wrote a book about the religious figure, “Jesus of Nazareth.” The filmmaker paid a visit to the newsroom last week to chat with MTV’s Josh Horowitz about the book, and he discussed some surprising parallel’s between the Biblical story of Christ and his classic 1987 film, “RoboCop.”

“The point of ’RoboCop,’ of course, is it is a Christ story,” Verhoeven said. “It is about a guy that gets crucified after 50 minutes, then is resurrected in the next 50 minutes and then is like the super-cop of the world, but is also a Jesus figure as he walks over water at the end.”

It’s actually not such a far-fetched idea when you think about it. RoboCop (Peter Weller) is a sort of resurrected human who was horribly abused before his death. I don’t know if I’d characterize him as the son of God, and he metes out justice with a bit more prejudice than the real Jesus might have… but that’s also part of the director’s message.

Back to the water-walking in the final scene. “It was [shot in] an abandoned steel factory in Pittsburgh and there was water there. I put something just underneath the water so [Weller] could walk over the water and say this wonderful line… ’I am not arresting you anymore.’ Meaning, ’I’m going to shoot you.’ And that is of course the American Jesus.”

It’s certainly a unique perspective. How do you readers think it measure up?

Verhoeven didn’t have a lot to say about the planned remake. He’s not against the idea, but no one’s spoken to him about it. From his point of view, it’s a challenging project to undertake.

The original film’s relatively low budget forced him to be “extremely creative and inventive.” Digital effects in 1987 also weren’t anywhere close to where they are now of course. Though in Verhoeven’s mind, too much CG would dilute the experience.

“I think that [forced inventiveness] is really what you feel in the [original] movie. I’m not so sure that [CG effects and other modern tricks] would improve the soul of the movie.”

Do you read “RoboCop” as a Christ story, and the title character as an “American Jesus”? Would a CG-ified remake lose the “soul” of the original?