Simon Verhoeven

Simon Verhoeven (born in Munich on 20 June 1972) is a German film director, screenwriter, film producer, former actor, and occasional film music composer.

Simon Verhoeven
Born (1972-06-20) 20 June 1972 (age 48)
Occupationfilm director, screenwriter, film producer, actor, film composer
Years active1995–present
Parent(s)Michael Verhoeven
Senta Berger

Life and familyEdit

The filmmaker Simon Verhoeven is the son of international screen actress Senta Berger and BAFTA-winning + Oscar-nominated film director Michael Verhoeven.

The Verhoevens have been working in acting and directing for generations: Simon Verhoeven's grandfather Paul Verhoeven (not the Dutch filmmaker of the same name) ran the renowned Deutsches Theater in Berlin as well as the Munich Kammerspiele. Michael Verhoeven's sister Lis Verhoeven was a stage actress and director who was briefly married to international screen actor Mario Adorf. Simon Verhoeven's brother Luca is also an actor who debuted in Simon's first cinematic directorial effort 100 Pro (2001).[1] The family legacy on stage and screen was captured in the documentary film The Verhoevens (2003).[2]

Simon Verhoeven and his father run their own production company, Sentana Filmproduktion, which Michael Verhoeven and Senta Berger founded already in 1965.[3]


After finishing highschool in Munich 1991, Simon Verhoeven moved to New York to study acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. In his New York years he also studied jazz composition under Don Friedman, and later took classes in film music scoring at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. In 1995 Verhoeven got accepted at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts to study screenwriting and film directing; he graduated as a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1999.

Directing & screenwriting careerEdit

Simon Verhoeven belongs to the most bankable German film directors and screenwriters of the 2010s until today.[4] His most successful film so far has been Welcome to Germany (Willkommen bei den Hartmanns),[5] which became 2016's biggest domestic theatrical release in Germany[6] with over 4 million tickets sold[7] and a global box office of almost $50m.[8] This comedy about the 2015 refugee crisis was screened at many international film festivals,[9][10][11][12] and it won many German as well as international awards[13] and nominations.[14]

After making a few short films and music videos in the late 1990s, Verhoeven's screenwriting and directing career started in 2001 with the buddy comedy 100 Pro.[15] He followed up with his 2009 ensemble comedy Men in the City (Männerherzen), which sold over 2 million tickets at the domestic box office. This success sparked the equally successful sequel[16] Men in the City 2 in 2011 (also written & directed by Verhoeven), as well as a number of international remakes in the Netherlands, Belgium, and other countries.[17][18]

With his first English-language feature film Friend Request (2014) starring Alycia Debnam Carrey, Verhoeven tried his hand in the horror genre. The film made a respectable $2m opening weekend gross at the US box office.[19] Additionally the German production sold well at the international film markets and was screened in theaters worldwide.

Returning to his homeland, Verhoeven landed a huge hit with his aforementioned political comedy Welcome to Germany (2016)[20] that convinced audiences as well as critics world-wide.[21] The film marks also a special collaboration, since Verhoeven directed his mother for the first time, the international screen & TV actress Senta Berger. His film got adapted for the stage, premiering at the Akademietheater of the world-famous Viennese Burgtheater. Many travelling productions followed that tour the German-language stages until today.

In February 2020 Warner Bros. released his sixth theatrical feature Nightlife starring Elias M'Barek and Frederik Lau, which started as number 1 of the German box office.[22] The comedy had sold over 1 million tickets within 10 days of release, when the COVID-19 crisis forced all cinemas to close down, stopping its success in the tracks. It then topped the drive-in charts when regular cinematic screenings weren't possible. On May 23, 2020 the comedy received the Austrian Romy Award for the Best Screenplay[23]. At the Monte-Carlo Comedy Film Festival Nightlife received numerous accolades: The prizes for Best Film, Best Director, the Audience Award as well as a Special Mention for the cast[24]. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 travel situation, Verhoeven didn't attend the ceremony on 10 October 2020.

Next to his feature works, Verhoeven also directs commercials, among them advertisements for Apple, Lufthansa, Beats by Dre, Deutsche Telekom, and many others.

As his writing & directing idols, Simon Verhoeven names the comedy legends Billy Wilder and Ernst Lubitsch[25] – who both started their careers in Germany before moving to Hollywood.

Acting careerEdit

Before following in his father Michael Verhoeven's filmmaking footsteps – an infamous political auteur of the New German Cinema who caused the shutdown of the Berlinale Competition in 1970[26] –, Simon Verhoeven started out as a screen and TV actor like his mother Senta Berger, who in her 70-year-spanning career starred alongside international screen legends Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Jeanne Moreau, Alain Delon, Yul Brynner, Charlton Heston, Albert Finney, Robert Vaughn, Robert Wagner, and many more.

Simon Verhoeven landed his first film role while still studying in New York, playing in the 1995 indie comedy Party Girl next to Parker Posey and Liev Schreiber. The same year he was directed by his father in My Mother's Courage.[27] In the Russian-German co-production Vasilia (2000) he worked alongside punk icon Nina Hagen.

Back in Germany, he acted in many made-for-TV romantic comedies, but Verhoeven also took on more substantial roles particularly in films based on true events: In Bruce Beresford's Bride of the Wind (2001) he plays Bauhaus director Walter Gropius, in Sönke Wortmann's The Miracle of Bern (2006) he embodies the 1954 football World Cup winner Ottmar Walter, in The Sinking of the Laconia (2010) he is the 1940s naval officer Harro Schacht, and in the multi-award-winning thriller Mogadischu (2008), he plays the Lufthansa flight 181 pilot Jürgen Vietor in this retelling of the 1977 Palestinian hostage crisis.

Verhoeven's last acting parts so far were cameos in his two Men in the City comedies and Nightlife.

Awards (selected)Edit


director / screenwriterEdit

actor (selected)Edit


  1. ^ "German Films: Film Info: 100 Pro". Retrieved 2020-05-07.
  2. ^ "German Films: Film Info: VERHOEVENS, DIE". Retrieved 2020-05-01.
  3. ^ Zeitung, Süddeutsche. "Sicherer Hafen auch bei Sturm". Sü (in German). Retrieved 2020-05-01.
  4. ^ "Die zehn erfolgreichsten deutschen Filme der 2010er". Quotenmeter (in German). 2020-01-08. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  5. ^ "How a Refugee Comedy Became Germany's Sleeper Hit of 2016". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  6. ^ "Refugee Crisis Comedy Is Germany's Top Film of 2016". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  7. ^ "Welcome to Germany @ EUFFTO18: Box Office History - German Film @ Canada - Goethe-Institut". Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  8. ^ "Welcome to Germany". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  9. ^ "2017 EUFF". Canadian Film Institute ∙ Institut Canadien du Film. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  10. ^ Desk, BWW News. "The 2018 European Union Film Festival Announces Lineup". Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  11. ^ "European Union Film Festival 2018". EEAS - European External Action Service - European Commission. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  12. ^ "2017 EUFF". Canadian Film Institute ∙ Institut Canadien du Film. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  13. ^ "Simon Verhoeven erhält Friedenspreis des Deutschen Films". Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  14. ^ "Welcome to Germany / Willkommen bei den Hartmanns" Check |url= value (help). https. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  15. ^ "100 PRO". Cineuropa - the best of european cinema. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  16. ^ "Deutsche Kinocharts: "Männerherzen" schlagen auf Eins". Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  17. ^ "Dutch Men in the City remake will get sequel". Cineuropa - the best of european cinema. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  18. ^ "Wat Mannen Willen: Actor Filip Peteers tries his hand at a rom-com". Cineuropa - the best of european cinema. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  19. ^ "Friend Request (2016) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  20. ^ "Refugee Crisis Comedy Is Germany's Top Film of 2016". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  21. ^ Donadio, Rachel (2016-12-28). "How 'Toni Erdmann' Became an Unexpected Comedy". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  22. ^ "Nightlife". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  23. ^ christoph.silber. "Die ROMY übersteht alles: Das sind die Gewinner 2020". (in German). Retrieved 2020-06-17.
  24. ^ "'Nightlife' big winner at Monte-Carlo Comedy Film Festival". ‘Nightlife’ big winner at Monte-Carlo Comedy Film Festival. Retrieved 2020-10-13.
  25. ^ "Simon Verhoeven zu "Männerherzen"". Retrieved 2020-05-01.
  26. ^ "20th Berlin International Film Festival - June 26 - July 7, 1970". Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  27. ^ Klady, Leonard; Klady, Leonard (1995-09-25). "My Mother's Courage". Variety. Retrieved 2020-05-01.
  28. ^ Germany, Abendzeitung (2016-12-28). "Unsere Besten! - Das sind die AZ-Sterne des Jahres". Retrieved 2020-10-14.
  29. ^ "Simon Verhoeven Photos Photos: 'Friedenspreis des Deutschen Films - Die Bruecke - 2017' Award - Munich Film Festival 2017". Zimbio. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  30. ^ "Simon Verhoeven Photos Photos: Schwarzkopf at Bambi Awards 2017 - Winners Board". Zimbio. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  31. ^ Irofte, Gabriela (2017-11-10). "Winners of GQ Men of the Year Award Germany". GLAIBERA'S PROJECT. Retrieved 2020-10-14.
  32. ^ "'Nightlife' big winner at Monte-Carlo Comedy Film Festival". ‘Nightlife’ big winner at Monte-Carlo Comedy Film Festival. Retrieved 2020-10-14.

External linksEdit