Interview with actor Casper Van Dien At Toronto Comic ConMarch 23, 2016
With over one hundred acting credits to his name, Casper Van Dien has been able to work on many projects including Sleepy Hollow, Tarzan and the Lost City and the huge cult hit Starship Troopers. Recently, we had a chance to talk to Casper as part of a round table interview while he was at Toronto Comic Con.
Media: So I heard you talking about Tarzan and clearly you are very passionate about the ‘geek industry’, so you must really be flattered when someone shows up at a convention dressed up as a character you’ve played.
Casper: Passionate yeah, it’s been my life before an actor and it’s still my life now. Someone asked me once, oh my god those people at comic cons, they dress up, isn’t that weird, what do you think? I said dude, I do that for a living. It’s the most awesome thing to see people dressed up, especially as one of my characters. My girlfriend, she’s a cosplayer, she plays Wonder Woman, she’s a reference model and she’s amazing. She goes to these Make-A-Wish foundations once a month for the kids with cancer, shows up as Wonder Woman. My daughter dressed up as Supergirl and was going to go with her once but they got a call an hour before and the little girl didn’t make it. This happens all the time but she still goes every month because the little kids, just the idea of someone in a costume is exciting. Same thing as an actor. Little kids will sometime come up to me and say, you were Tarzan or oh my god, Johnny Rico and I’ll go what are you doing watching Starship Troopers and they’re like, our dad made us watch it and I’m like, I need to talk to your parents. It’s fun, it’s why I’m in this business more than anything else, I have fun and I do what I love.
Media: Did you ever notice that Starship Troopers, compared to almost any other sci-fi, is the most relatable for actual death and war. It’s what war is actually like instead of being cartoony to the point that nobody dies. In yours, you don’t even know if you’re going to live through it half the time.
Casper: Yeah, everybody dies. Nobody quits but everybody dies, that should have been one of the quotes. Paul Verhoveven grew up in Holland and his family and their peers were part of the Nazi resistance, he really lived the horrors of war, he really truly did. I think he was trying to make a political statement, an ethical statement and he has a really dark, sick and perverse sense of humor so I think that’s why it challenges people to talk about issues and things like that, that film is a brilliant film in the fact that it still gets people on edge and talking, it’s an anti-war movie, it’s a pro war movie. It’s funny, I’ve gotten both, people saying that’s a pro war film and I’m like, everybody dies, what’s the pro? Then there are the guys who say it’s an anti-war film and I say yeah it is but it walks a line that people get so amped on still to this day. It’s been twenty years, I’ve done a hundred and ten projects and this is one that people talk about with a passion. Somebody will call me up, I’ll get tweets or someone will yell at me on the street, call me Rico and that is so awesome, that is the best thing about making a film. If you can do one project, and I was lucky enough to do one, that draws this must attention on a film that’s twenty years old, it’s awesome. It still makes people think and that’s why he’s a great filmmaker and Ed Neumeier is an incredible writer, I mean they’re both brilliant minds and I love sitting and talking with them because their geniuses, both of them are literally geniuses and Paul is such a versed man on Christianity but I don’t know if he studied it because he’s Christian or because he wants to know the psyche of people. That’s the reason I think he did, I don’t know that’s just my opinion, but he’s a student and a master of the human psyche and that to me is so fantastic and juicy and brilliant, things that I like about his film-making.
The GCE: So were you always going to be an actor or was there something else that grabbed your interest, enough to put some doubt in your choice of acting as a career?
Casper: Yeah, I was going to go into the military. Every male in my family served in the military and I nothing but the deepest respect for the services. I had the most loving family a man could have and also one that would encourage me to be my own man. If I did something wrong my father would say, go fix it, man up. That’s all great and everything but it’s really powerful because it gives me the opportunity to take care of my own stuff and to really own my darkness and my light and I have to and when I mess up I have to go make my amends and do what I can to make things right. It’s not about being right but it’s about making things right and doing the best you can and that is one of most awesome lessons I ever had. My dad was in the military for twenty years and then he taught it for eleven years in GRTC, he taught navy military science. So I was in the little uniforms for the boot camps he had from age four up until now, I’m still in uniform now. I went to military school, I was going to do it, I went to Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg, Florida, this year it was still rated number one in military schools. I graduated third in command, I was operations officer, I was captain of the drill team, captain of the football team, I really loved it but I loved acting more. We didn’t have Romeo and Juliet, it was an all guy military school, its co-ed now but I probably would have been the guy they chose for Juliet and there was no way I was going to do that. I was already called Ken doll and let me tell you, going to a military school you do not want to be called Ken doll. I really loved it though, loved that upbringing but acting is what I’m most passionate about and I’ve had the gift and capacity to do it for the past twenty eight years, which is pretty amazing. I love it, I don’t think I would do anything else.
Media: I feel like film and comics are very similar in many ways. Is writing a comic or working with someone on a comic something that you would ever consider doing?
Casper: Well I have worked with some people that have done a lot of comics, Kevin Van Hook did a lot of the Valiant comics and I’m up for a Valiant project right now, their first one, and they’re getting huge again. Kevin Van Hook, his did Bloodshot and a lot of the original ones. When I read Tarzan the book, there was also the comics back then and my name’s Casper so I read all the Casper comics because that would be one of the main things people would give to me when I little. I also read Archie, Batman and Superman, I love comics, Kevin Van Hook, I’ve done three films with him and we’re always talking about doing other things. He actually did sketches for one of the films I was going to direct and Paul Verhoeven sketches all the time and Tim Burton draws all the time so drawing and comics have always been around and now wow, they’re huge. They are the monsters of our industry, graphic novels as well I mean The Walking Dead, what a wonderfully written and acted show, it’s so good.
I want to thank Casper Van Dien for taking the time to talk to us