Next year will mark 20 years since the release of Starship Troopers, Paul Verhoeven’s sci-fi opus about human soldiers waging a war against giant space bugs. That’s the simplistic synopsis of the film, but it’s the subtle thematic work in the film that has allowed it to resonate still almost two decades later, particularly the vision of the future Earth with fascist overtones and the near canonization of military force. With that F-word being thrown around a lot with the present Presidential campaign, Casper Van Dien was asked at Toronto ComiCon his thoughts about the new prescience to Starship Troopers in this election year.
“The film is almost 20 years old, and people still go ‘I love that movie, I watch it all the time,'” Van Dien said about the movie. “That’s the thing that was missed when it first came out, in some countries they got it, and some press people were thinking at the time ‘this is brilliant, why aren’t people getting this?’ and 20 years later people are still talking about it. I’ve done 110 films and that’s the one people still want to talk to me about.”
“I think that Paul Verhoeven and [screenwriter] Ed Neumeier have the most sick, perverse and delicious dark humor,” he added. “It make people think, it challenges them to look at themselves, society and what they believe. I believe Starship Troopers really is, it gets people talking. They can be from Greenpeace, they can be pro-military, they can be anti-military, they can be the Democrats or the Republicans. I’ve gotten from both sides of it.”
As for what specifically people find appealing, or what people read into it, Van Dien can’t say, but he says it doesn’t matter as long as it gets people talking. “That’s the best thing we can do at this time on the planet is to communicate about issues, and if it gets people fired up then that’s f**king awesome,” he said. “It’s a bug movie, but it’s got a lot underneath it. There’s substance to it, and that’s interesting to me. I actually love that aspect of it.”
Another Van Dien project that came up in conversation was 1998’s Tarzan and the Lost City in which he played the title character. Van Dien said he’s looking forward to the new Tarzan movie coming out his summer, because he has deep personal connection to the material beyond being one of numerous actors that have put on the loincloth over the years.
“My dad was my hero, so getting to play one of his heroes was the biggest thrill of my life,” Van Dien explained, adding that his portrayal of Tarzan won him an Erb Dum Dum Award for closest portrayal to Edgar Rice Burrough’s creation in the book series. “I’m a really big geek so when it comes to these things, I kind of nerd out, so I hope it is what my Tarzan was supposed to be. I don’t think they had the capacity with the budget we had to quite do exactly what they did with this one, and I’m so excited to see it.”
While his Tarzan days are behind him, Van Dien has hopes to appear in another nerdy franchise, one connected to another ComiCon guest, Star Trek. “Jonathan Frakes is here, and he doesn’t have any idea, but I watched every single one of the Star Trek: The Next Generations, all the films and everything. And I keep seeing him at different cons,” he said with a laugh. “When I did Beastmaster 3, I kind of did it because Gabirelle Beaumont was the director, and she directed a lot of Star Trek: The Next Generations, so that was my way in. And guess what, I never got on Star Trek: The Next Generations.”
There is, of course, the all new Star Trek series being developed for CBS All Access next year. “I would love it. If they were interested, I would be there,” Van Dien said.