If there’s one thing we know about Paul Verhoeven, it’s that he’s certainly not shy of putting sex at the center of his films. In an interview with The Sunday Times, the Basic Instinct and Showgirls director criticized No Time to Die, the latest film in the James Bond franchise, for scrapping any sex scenes involving 007 himself.
While 2006’s Casino Royale — which marked Daniel Craig’s first portrayal as Bond — didn’t include any explicitly sexual content, Verhoeven commended the film for at least alluding to some more salacious behavior. Now, he says, Hollywood blockbusters are “scared of sex.”
“Sex is the essence of existence!” Verhoeven said. “There was always sex in Bond! They did not show a breast, or whatever. But they had some sex.”
As Craig retires from his long-running role as Bond, Verhoeven is voicing his qualms about big-budget franchises. “It’s about crashing and blowing up,” he said. “Sometimes these movies are fun, but the narrative tells you nothing about us now. I don’t see any other thought in Marvel or Bond movies.”
If Verhoeven were to make a 007 film of his own, he said he would “go back to reality” with “cars that don’t leap up into the sky.” And, as we can assume, it would include some NSFW themes, like Verhoeven’s most recent film Benedetta. The erotic drama, which debuted at Cannes last year, centers around a 17th-century Italian nun who must reckon with her guilt as she begins a love affair with another woman who’s fled her abusive life at home to join the convent.
In taking a stray shot at Marvel, Verhoeven is the latest filmmaker to bash the comic book franchise, joining the esteemed ranks of Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, and Denis Villeneuve.
No Time to Die was directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, who stepped in after original director Danny Boyle left the project due to creative differences. The film’s theme song of the same name just earned Billie Eilish the Oscar for Best Original Song, having also accumulated trophies at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards, and Grammys.