This article originally appeared back in August but has been republished now to coincide with the UK release of the film at Showcase cinemas on 29th November.
I’ve been very fortunate over the past few years to have had the opportunity to speak with countless people whose work I have admired, occasionally I get the chance to unashamedly revert to the fanboy I truly am when I the opportunity arises to talk to some of my big time heroes. I make no bones about it, I’m not a genuine critic, nor do I want to be. In fact I pride myself as someone who doesn’t take himself too seriously. So when the time comes to well and truly loosen the shackles of professionalism, well I’m your man.
A couple of weeks ago I received a very exciting communication from the marketing director of Park Circus. Established in 2003, Park Circus is a leading global sales agency and distribution company. They represent over 25,000 films from Hollywood and British studios and a large number of independent rights owners. It’s not all about classic films though, their contemporary releasing and sales slate includes titles from established directors as well as the new discoveries of today.
The message began with them saying that they are big fans of what we’re doing here at 5D (Good start, suck me in with compliments, that ALWAYS works). She went to say that they are working on the release of Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars into cinemas worldwide later this month and it would be brilliant to get 5D an early peek at some of the key images and potentially access to some talent and write a piece if we were interested. Was I interested?
I responded by saying that yes I was interested (a complete understatement) and that it would good (another whopper of an understatement) if I could get an interview with Casper Van Dien……. yes the legend himself & star of the 1987 seminal classic Starship Troopers. To say that I’m a fan of that film and the subsequent franchise that arose from it would be the biggest understatement of them all.
Well to cut a long story short, she spoke to his people & I spoke to mine (that would be me) and a deal was done to arrange a Skype interview.
SO before the interview let me throw some IMDB info your way….
“Casper Van Dien’s breakthrough role was as the lead in Paul Verhoeven’s sci-fi film Starship Troopers (1997). Still one of the most talked about films of 1997 that has one of the largest cult followings in film history. He was also in Tim Burton’s critically acclaimed film Sleepy Hollow (1999), as Brom Bones. He was the 20th Tarzan and the only one to ever film in Africa and ride an African elephant in the Warner Bros. film Tarzan and the Lost City (1998).
Other film credits include The Pact (2012), which was well received at Sundance. Casper played a down and out alcoholic detective opposite Caity Lotz. A Post Apocalyptic survivor in Beyond The Wave (2015) shot entirely in China. Starring opposite Sean Maher as part of a two man crew on a mission to the end of the universe in the much anticipated independent film ISRA 88 (2016) .
Television credits include “MONK” (2008) Playing a Navy Doctor for the season finale, and “Beverly Hills, 90210” (1994).
Casper has tackled the web recently playing Johnny Cage in the insanely popular Machinima web-series “Mortal Kombat Legacy” seasons 2 and 3. He won best actor for his comedic chops in the series. He stars as “Hawk Guy” in the upcoming Avengers spoof “Interns of F.I.E.L.D.” produced by Screen Junkies. You can also check him out as the hunky bartender in the popular series “CONMAN” starring Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion. He played the perfect version of himself in the comedy series “Crunchtime”.
His most recent victory has been behind the camera as a Director. He has directed three films in which he also starred in. His second film Patient Killer won best film and best director awards and was bought and aired on Lifetime.”
Oh, just one more thing before we get to the interview. I want to go on record in stating that Casper is one of the most entertaining and generous interviewee’s that 5D has ever encountered. I only hope that the his genuine warmth and humour comes across in the transcript below. In truth it took an absolute age to transcribe the text from the conversation that went well over its allowed time slot, but it was well worth it. I only wish that I could have recorded the amount of laughter that took place. I think it’s safe to say that the man has a warm and twisted sense of humour – so please don’t take what is said too seriously……well except for the stuff about Starship Troopers of course!
The Interview BIt…….
CVD) Stuart, I’m good & nice to speak to you.
5D) Believe, the pleasure is mine! Can I start with asking you about Starship Troopers. Apologies if you’ve been asked theses questions thousands of time!
CVD) (Laughs) Oh you know, you get a lot of the same questions but you also get new questions too but it’s all talking about making movies and that’s my fav subject.
5D) Starship Troopers – wow, 20 years! How quickly has that gone by – but I don’t understand it because I’m only a couple of years older than you, but take away my beard ……………. and you look like you do – but I just look 20 years older & more!!!
CVD) (Laughs) Well I have a great beard too but the key is that you have to shave!!!
5D) (Laughs) well yeah!! Fair point!
CVD) Well I shaved this morning, but if I hadn’t of done my beard would be white too my friend! I’m right there with you! (Laughs) But thank you, I appreciate the compliment nonetheless.
5D) Yeah there was a compliment in there somewhere!
CVD) Yes there was, thank you about my not ageing – but I do have this painting up in the attic (Laughs).
5D) (laughs)And I bet the painting looks like crap?!
CVD) Yeah man, just a little Dorian Gray! (Laughs)
5D) So Starship Troopers when it first came out I went to the cinema & just loved it, but I remember at the time talking with a few people who totally missed the point who claimed it was just an ‘America yeah’ Fascist shoot ‘em up. I’m saying “ No, this is great satire & it’s meant to be funny and pokes fun at ALL sides. Do you still have to justify the real meaning of the movie?
CVD) Not as much I used to, it used to be that I couldn’t believe that people didn’t get it. Literally, I was shocked that people took it seriously and didn’t understand that there was satire in it because Ed (writer) & Paul (director) are geniuses and they have this really sick, dark perverse sense of humour! I just think that it’s amazing because to this day, I mean over here this movie is accepted by the Republicans & the Democrats and both parties they love this movie, both presidents Bush & Clinton loved this film. I’ve got that from different sources who knew them so it’s amazing.
It’s just amazing who loved it & yes the military loves this film, but for me this sums it up nice. I was at a Con a couple of years ago & the moderator of the Con used to be a critic for the, you know, The New York Times or Washington Post or something like that. He goes “When Starship Troopers first came out and after graduating from Harvard or wherever I gave it two thumbs down” And he goes “ And now I went back and visited it several years later and now it’s my 3rd all-time favourite film, what do you think about that?” And I go, “ I think you’re a dick for giving it two thumbs down in the first place! (laughs). I’m like seriously how could you miss that, especially from Harvard (Laughs) How could you miss that satire?” I just don’t understand!
5D) Some still don’t get it though, I was looking at some website a while ago and it was one of those ‘honest trailers’ type thing and they did Starship Troopers with a kind of ‘this is how it would have been if it had meant been funny’ – and I’m thinking “No man, you’ve COMPLETELY missed the point!”
The only negative I have about the film is that I’m still in therapy about seeing you naked 20 years ago!
CVD) (Laughs uncontrollably) I get that a lot! I’m sorry about that! You know, when I didn’t get asked back for Starship Troopers 2 I thought, well maybe it was really cold! (Laughs) and then when I got asked for Starship Troopers 3 and they asked me to be naked again I thought maybe it’s because it’s warm! Some I’m not quite sure (Laughs).
5D) You’re no doubt most well-known for playing Johnny Rico & maybe you been a little typecast as a result, but I wondered if you get tired of it a wee bit? Did you get ever get to the point that of one more person shouts out “Hey RICO!!”……..?
CVD) You know, I’ve heard other actors who’ve ya know have said they resent (being know for certain roles) but it’s interesting to me, because for me it’s just been a phenomenal experience. For 20 years , and now for Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars its 20 years later in the film but it’s also that length of time and I’ve aged 20 years. People will still to this day yell “Rico, what the hell are you doing here??!!” and I’m like “I’m just pumping gas” (Laughs). I absolutely love it, I think as an actor you really, even if people say that they don’t like it it’s amazing to me because you strive for a film, you want to have the recognition where people really recognise you or like you for something. People, whenever they yell at me for this they’re yelling quotes from the movies or so just excited to meet, I just love it.
Just as I walked in here one of the guys just gave me a challenge coin, he’s in the Navy and they give these challenge coins out. He said “I just wanted to tell you how much I love your work” You know when some one comes up and it means that much to them and they say something, how can you take it any other way but to say thank you so much. Just awesome! I love being Rico, you know I was never Johnny Rico before this film came out and now I’ve been Johnny RICO every day of my life since then. I love it.
AT this point the vagaries of modern technology caused the internet connection to disappear I was left with no Casper, just my ugly mug looking back at me on the screen. Thankfully my calmness under pressure soon rectified the problem – yes, other words I just frantically pressed everything on Skype until we were reconnected.
CVD) Here’s the coin that I was given right here (showing it to screen). So that’s a Navy guy giving it to me so giving me his coin right away, telling me how much he likes it and appreciates it. For THAT alone I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had guys come up to me and tell me something like that. You know and for them to say that it meant something to them, ahh, that’s awesome. It’s just awesome, because here he is doing something that affords me the opportunity to do what I love because they’re doing what they’re doing and then they love it and say they appreciate what I’m doing. I’m like I appreciate what YOU’RE doing! You guys going out there and risking your lives so I can be a little actor with my hair and make up (Laughs).
5D) I watched Starship Troopers just the other day because I was going to talk to you. It’s the the first time in a year or two since I’ve seen it and it still holds up well – especially now with all that’s going on in the world right now. Crazy times.
CVD) It is a weird time, politically it’s the strangest time that I’ve ever experienced, but I think people now realise that how profound Starship Troopers was with the director and writer. And it was like well we didn’t even know. You said in the beginning, I think it’s smart, anybody can have these strong opinions about being a Fascist type country or anybody whose trying to control everybody else with their bullying tactics, this is where it can become wired. If we can’t see both sides, so that’s why I said this film appeals to both Democrats and Republicans, the Green Party, whatever it is, it because it pokes fun at itself and both sides. I think that’s where you must have the discussion, when people are just standing on their side or on the other side and they’re not talking and they’re not laughing about themselves or the other person then there’s no hope.
So in this movie they have that discussion, open discussion with people who love the military and who are against the military, who appreciate the both sides. I think that makes the whole discussion more intelligent, it gives people the chance to talk about things, which is what we should do anyway. I’m not going to agree with everybody, there’s no way and not everyone is going to agree with me – I wouldn’t want them to.
CVD) So far it’s been great. People start off saying ‘Hey, I thought it was going to be a live action’ but then they come back and say ‘but this is awesome!’ The critics so far that have seen this film have gone “I actually really love this film, Casper” Sony have put a lot behind this, they have a great PR team who I’ve worked with for years now because they did the last animated film & the 3rd Starship Troopers with me so I’ve been with the same people for a long time. So it’s an amazing team & it’s like a family for me so this franchise has been a huge part of my life.
I have my daughter, my 20-year-old with me & she was born during Starship Troopers which they put out in the film. So Traitor of Mars is great, we have Dizzy back, the character of Dizzy. So when Ed told me he had written here back in I was like “How could you do that?” Then the way it’s done, well it’s not going to disappoint anybody!
It’s got a twist in it and its sick & perverted! (Laughs)
5D) (Laughs) That’s the way I like my movies man! (Laughs). I’ve only seen the trailer for Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars, but it looks stunning. I must admit when I first hear about this I thought “Great, another Starship Troopers film” – I was genuinely excited, then “hmmm, it’s only animated”…. I wanted the live action, but looking at what I’ve seen it just looks great.
CVD) Well the director Shinji Aramaki was the guy that created the meta suits and he’s like the number one designer of meta suits in the world. He created Soundwave for the original Transformers , he’s a genius and he loves Starship Troopers so much and he wanted to bring Ed’s humour back into it but he also wanted to do the Robert Heinlein, you know the power suits and the power armour. There’s no real way to make it work, unless you’re Iron Man I guess (Laughs). So this way of making the film is so fantastic and they did a great job, I’m really excited for people so see this & hopefully it may give them the idea to make the live action.
5D) Yeah, TV seems to really be where it’s at these days, this whole Starship Troopers would be perfect for a Netflix type series wouldn’t it?
CVD) Well seeing as though Game of Thrones is finishing. You know what I’m saying? (Laughs)
5D) How did you find it making an animated version, I understand you did the voice but not the motion-capture?
CVD) I did not do the motion-capture for this picture, I just did the voice over for it. I did do the motion capture for a film I just did Alita: Battle Angel, for Robert Rodriguez, which was great.
5D) Well its funny you should mention that film, I was talking just this week to the actor, Billy Blair who’s also in that film. He couldn’t really tell me too much about it but man, that sounds an exciting film. Is it next year that that’s coming out?
CVD) I don’t know, I know less than Billy knows! (Laughs)
CVD) Sometimes that’s it, but sometimes it’s that we can’t say anything so we have to say we don’t know anything. It makes us sound like way more like we’re a meathead (Laughs). My fiancée she always laughs at me and says “You like it when people actually think you’re a meathead” ….. and she’s nodding her head over there right now……..because it’s sometimes you can off of it. It’s like the satire in Starship Troopers, some people don’t get it and then when you play into it a little bit more they come out thinking well that’s just a stupid film and you’re an idiot, you don’t understand anything! (Laughs). Then I think that’s even funnier, and then my fiancé goes “You’re just letting them get away with not knowing” and I go “No, but that’s where the joy is” (Laughs)
So you know, that’s what I think Ed did with the first Starship Troopers and I think he was able to put that back in this new Traitor of Mars movie. I know that they’re doing a Fandom event for the theatrical release here on the 21st August and I know they’re doing one down in Australia too. Some people posted that on my Facebook page and you know, I hope they invite me down for it because I would love to go down for that!
5D) You’re over here in the UK I think in December in Manchester at the For The Love of Sci-fi event?
CVD) So yeah, I’m over in Manchester at the beginning of December so maybe we might do something, I’m so excited – December 2nd & 3rd I think.
CVD) I hope we do! (Laughs). When I went to England to promote Starship Troopers in 1997, we were at Clapham Common, and you guys, the Brits got it so well. They understood the humour, the satire because they had all the propaganda posters plastered all over the walls. So they really got it in England, they didn’t get it as much in America at the time, but in England they really got it. Because you guys are really dark, sick and perverted over there, so……! (Laughs)
5D) Well this is true, maybe it’s the lack of sunshine (Laughs) – Darkness & perversion is all that keeps us going!
CVD) (Laughs uncontrollably) You guys are all sick fuckers! I had so much fun shooting Sleepy Hollow over there with all the UK actors and crew because you guys are just with an incredible sense of humour – it’s just delicious.
5D) Yeah, we did get Starship Troopers on the whole, but it did take a while for some. I can particularly remember one rather snooty reviewer on TV who was scathing about it, he just did not get it. He’s actually dead now. He just did not get it all.
CVD) Good, he’s dead! (Laughs) The only bad review is a dead review!!! (Laughs) They’re having heart attacks over here about that (Laughs) behind the camera. They’re almost looking at me as if……. I’m just kidding, I’m having a gas! (Laughs)
CVD) And some people would take me serious! (Laughs)…,, I’m just kidding! You know, actors like to talk about themselves, let’s be honest. It’s like “What are we going to talk about, oh me? ….oh let me just stop! (Laughs). Seriously for the most part you get in here and reviewers and people who interviewing about films love movies. I love movies, like my fiancé says to me all the time “You’ll watch anything!” and I literally will!
5D) I get the same. My wife thinks that all this 5D website thing I do is highly hilarious because she’ll say “You watch some weird shit!” (Laughs)
CVD) (Laughs) Yeah but it’s better than anything else and it’s funny, I don’t know what else to do. I love reading, I love writing. I love outdoors…….
5D) And you’re a director as well. Patient Killer was great.
CVD) Oh thank you. You know what, I made that film for Lifetime & wasn’t necessarily the kind of film that I would watch. The producer of that she hired me and said that she wanted to get this movie on Lifetime and wanted me to direct it and then get it on Lifetime. I’d directed one movie before so I said yes, I think I can, I know we can’t guarantee anything but I stacked the odds in my favour, I hired five of my friends plus me who had all been in a Lifetime movie in the last 3 years (Laughs). So Lifetime usually only have to have one maybe two of those actors to get your film on Lifetime so that stacked in my favour and they were friends of mine. So when I did the movie I actually had another one who was going to play my part and then he bowed out on me so I had to play my part.
CVD) Yeah, but that deal, that’s just a normal day in the bathroom for me (Laughs)
5D) Just a couple of more things, I promise not to lead on the ‘Casper Van Dien revels in the death of bad reviewers’ if you follow me back on Twitter.
CVD) Oh ok, I’ll check you out, but I’ll just wait until your review comes out or I may have to come over to the UK to kill you! (Laughs).
5D) (Laughs) We’ll have a face-off in Manchester in December, man, just you and me! (Laughs)
CVD) We will, we will (Laughs) I hope you come! Are you going to come to that?
5D) I’ll try.
CVD) What do mean you’ll try? We did this whole review and now you’re telling me you’re just going to try?! (Laughs) We’ll do a Starship Troopers thing there.
5D) I’m looking forward to getting some of the Starship Troopers for a 5D Competition (Casper stands up to proudly show off the one he’s wearing)… yeah, one of those! Would I be able to get one with my name on the side do you think?
CVD) No they only put ‘Rico’ on it ……. you get to be RICO (Laughs) Maybe you could have your name on the other sleeve?
5D) Yeah, that could be cool, maybe I’ll have ‘Captain Stu’ on it? (Laughs)
CVD) Captain Stu! There you go (Laughs)
5D) So finally, what are your plans for the future?
CVD) Well right now I’m just focusing on Starship Troopers:Traitor of Mars, we have a fandom event, we have a paintball event over here where they have all the old sets of Starship Troopers and we’re going to do a little paintball battle, so I’m going to that next week and shoot some of my fans and not try to kill em all! (Laughs)
5D) “Casper Van Dien murders his fans as well!” (Laughs) You’re just a homicidal maniac!
CVD) (Laughs) Give me a gun, you’ll know I’ll go at it! I’m an American, what can I say?’ (Laughs) Maybe you can send some Redcoats too, we need some volunteers to suit up! (Laughs)
5D) I’ll volunteer for that, that sounds so cool (Laughs)
CVD) You see, that’s what I love about the Brits, because you’re gonna volunteer to get shot! We should do that at the For The Love of Sci-fi! We’ll talk to them, we have to talk to those guys! And you say, “Hey look, I volunteer to get shot by Casper for a paintball event” and I’ll do it. We’ll get Sony to pitch in some T-shirts & eye patches – you’ll really need the eye patches because I’ll be shooting you! (Laughs).
I can see the legal department shaking their heads behind the camera (Laughs)…… what are you doing to me?! (Laughs).
I can’t wait got you to see the movie, Ed is one of the best writers I know and Shinji Aramaki is an incredible director who wanted to make it a little bit closer to the first movie and also the book. He became what he is because of the book Starship Troopers so it’s a huge complement this film I think. I think it’s a thing that all the fans are going to like. I loved it, o loved being a part of it.
5D) Well hopefully you know there’s a huge fan base out there for the film, it’s been going on 20 years now & it’s going to ignite it more. I know there’s stuff planned for the 20th anniversary release?
CVD) Yeah I’ve done things for that, I don’t know if there’s going to be any more extras but I’ve done so much talking for that so they may be adding that in. If they ask me to I’m willing to do my part.
5D) Listen Casper, you have a great day and thank you for your time. It’s been a thrill man, I’m a big fan so I hope I haven’t been too much of a fanboy! (Laughs) I wish you all the best.
CVD) I thank you very much and I hope you come to Manchester. Tag the guys, they’re on Facebook & Twitter etc and maybe they’ll set you up and maybe we can meet in person. We’ll do another interview over there or maybe you can do my panel?
5D) That would be great!
CVD) Thank you & bye!
I would once again like so say a huge thanks to Casper in giving me his time. I would also like to thank Park Circus for arranging with Casper’s team and Sony to put the whole thing together. I genuinely hope that we can continue this in December in Manchester!
You can find out more about Casper Van Dien and the upcoming Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars at his official Facebook page RIGHT HERE
You can follow Casper on Twitter at RIGHT HERE
You can find out more about Park Circus RIGHT HERE
Information about the For The Love Of Sci-fi event at their website RIGHT HERE