With her curly blonde hair, kewpie doll looks and trim figure, it seemed almost inevitable that Soutendijk would abandon her ambitions as an Olympic gymnast to pursue an acting career. Upon graduating from the Academy of Performing Arts in her native The Netherlands, this Nordic beauty won roles on stage and in TV and films, usually projecting cool ambition tempered with compassion. She made her feature debut in Wim Verstappen's "Pastorale 1943" (1978) but gained prominence as a short-order cook with social ambitions in Paul Verhoeven's "Spetters" (1980). Soutendijk went on to portray a resistance fighter in "Het meisje met het rede haar/The Girl With Red Hair" (1981) before reuniting with Verhoeven as a mysterious beauty shop owner who seduces a bisexual novelist (Jeroen Krabbe) in "De Vierde Man/The Fourth Man" (1982). She has appeared in numerous features in her native The Netherlands including "Abwarts/Out of Order" (1983), "Op hoop van zegen/The Good Hope" (1986) and "Eeen maand later/A Month Later" (1987). For director Krzysztof Zanussi, she portrayed the wife of a German businessman slowly slipping into madness in "Gdzieskolwiek jest, jeslis jest/Wherever You Are/Wherever She Is" (1988). In "Forced March" (1989), she played an actress appearing in a biopic of a World War II figure (Chris Sarandon) which marked her English-language debut in features. Soutendijk played a dual role of a scientist and an android built in her image in the sci-fi thriller "Eve of Destruction" (1991). She subsequently appeared in the erotic thriller "House Call/The Apartment Block/De Flat" (1994), as a doctor who falls in love with a suspected murderer (Victor Low).
Soutendijk made her TV debut in English as Eva Braun in the ABC miniseries "Inside the Third Reich" (1982) opposite Derek Jacobi's Hitler. She has also appeared in the World War II drama "Behind Enemy Lines" (NBC, 1985) and the biographical miniseries "Peter the Great" (NBC, 1986). Soutendijk starred opposite David Selby in "King of the Olympics: The Lives and Loves of Avery Brundage" (syndicated, 1988) and was featured opposite Ben Kingsley in "Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story" (HBO, 1989). She also played Anthony LaPaglia's wife in the Showtime cable movie "Keeper of the City" (1992).