Casper Van Dien, who most action/sci-fi fans will know as Johnny Rico from the Starship Troopers franchise, is perhaps busier today than he’s ever been. A quick glance at IMDB reveals that the actor has 10 credits to his name, and counting, in 2020 alone. Next up for Dien is The 2nd, a new action/thriller that sees him taking on the bad guy role against Ryan Phillippe.
The 2nd, directed by Brian Skiba, centers on secret-service agent Vic Davis (Ryan Phillippe) who is on his way to pick up his estranged son, Shawn (Jack Griffo), from college. He soon finds himself in the middle of a high-stakes terrorist operation. The daughter of a Supreme Court Justice is the target and a well-armed faction will stop at nothing to kidnap her. Vic discovers that nobody is coming to their rescue. So, he must use his set of skills to save her and his son from an incredibly dangerous and lethal situation.
I recently had the chance to speak with Casper Van Dien in honor of the movie’s release next week. We discussed what it’s like playing the bad guy, his work as Johnny Cage in Mortal Kombat: Legacy and much more. Enjoy.
Thank you so much for doing this today.
Casper Van Dien: Thank you so much for wanting to do it with me.
Of course, man. For me, doing the job, getting to talk to people who have made an impact on stuff you like is kind of the reason you do it.
Casper Van Dien: Awe man, well thank you. I love getting to talk to people who love movies as much as I do. It’s always a thrill for me because if I wasn’t acting I would be talking to people who love movies because I’ve always loved movies, TV shows. I love entertainment. I think it helps forward science. Anything that can get your imagination going so that you can dream, I think we need those positive influences in our life so that we can make changes, and grow, and become better, and see things brighter.
I couldn’t agree more. Before we really get into this, I just need to get this off my chest. It has nothing really to do with anything. I thought you were an excellent choice for Johnny Cage.
Casper Van Dien: Awe, man! Thank you. I love it. You know, I shot a third season of [Mortal Kombat: Legacy] and they never came out with it. I am always wondering what is going on with Warner Bros. They argued. We shot six or seven more episodes and I’m in one of them with other people they shot. They liked four of the episoes. Mine was one that they liked. And then the other two, they weren’t as happy with, so they didn’t release the third season. But the third season was even more fun to do. So I’m disappointed.
That is a bummer.
Casper Van Dien: It’s there. I I’m hoping one day they will put it out because it is done.
I don’t know. It’s weird to me when studios just sit on content like that. You have it. I don’t know. That’s always strange to me.
Casper Van Dien: It’s strange to me to too. Especially when they’re like, “No, we absolutely love this. We love these segments.” I’m like, okay, well, you love four out of the six and there’s two that you don’t. Just fix the other two or just release the four. I don’t know.
We’re here to talk about The 2nd, which is your new flick. If someone were perusing the internet and stumbled across IMDB, they would simply see you credited as Driver. Can tell us a little bit about Driver and how he fits into the story?
Casper Van Dien: The director told me that, “I got a perfect movie that I want to show. I’ve got this character. I think it’s totally you, you’re gonna love it.” Then I play this guy Driver and I have to really look at the way he sees me because he’s not the most ethical man ever. So I have to look at my director frind, Brian Skiba, who threw me in this film and I go, “What is up with you?!” Or I have to look at myself maybe deeper and go, “What is wrong with me?”
He’s a great character. I love him. I get to battle Ryan Phillipe in this. I’ve known Ryan for a long time. We met a long time ago. This is the first time we get to work together. He’s a physical guy. I’m a physical guy. We both trained before, and then we had great stunt guys who trained us in this. I had nine nights in a dojo with the stunt guys beforehand, who choreographed these fight sequences, which are pretty intense. It’s a throwback to the 80s and 90s. Real fights. We’re really throwing down. There this incerdible stunt where my guy gets blown out of a window on fire. That was my stunt double. He does that. For me, I was able to most of the fights and Ryan was able to do most of our fights together, and it was so much fun.
You touched on Brian and his output is nuts. He’s got three or four movies under his belt from last year alone. What’s it like working with him?
Casper Van Dien: That’s right. He’s a very, very prepared, very determined filmmaker, and I think he’s really good. This is my second time working with him. I’m hoping to work many more times with him. I think I got a lot of talent, a lot of preparation. He wanted to do this throwback to 80s, 90s action films without all of the visual effects people have to throw in now that create a barrier. Fights, and stunts and all of that. We wanted to do practical ones. People so far that have seen it really like that. I love those kinds of things. I love when people can do that. Our stunt guys were really hungry, young guys who were real fighters that I got to battle with. A couple of guys that are real professional fighters that are just going at it. It was super intense. The cast I got to work with was amazing, and Brian, I just can’t say enough good things about him as a director. He had a really tight budget, really tight schedule and he really knocked it out of the park.
You kind of touched on it, and this was even evident in the trailer. We’re, or at least I am, used to seeing you play a heroic type, and you’re definitely the bad guy in this flick. As far as being an actor goes, do you have more fun as the hero or the bad guy?
Casper Van Dien: I think I’m getting cast a lot more as a villain. I don’t know what that’s saying about my character, but they have been getting a lot more of these villainous roles and people seem to enjoy that even more from more. So, I don’t know. Maybe as you get older, you get crankier and people go, “You know what, let’s just get that cranky guy Casper out there. He’s already cranky so…” There you go! I’m loving it. I had fun. I would have had fun if I played either character in this. But it was fun to play Driver. A lot. I really enjoyed it.
I think at this point, you have over 100 acting credits. Three decades. What is left that you haven’t done that you still want to do?
Casper Van Dien: I probably will never retire. I’ll probably go until they take me out. I’ll just keep going. I don’t know. I would love to keep working. I just love working with different actors, and directors, and movies, and shows. I feel very lucky and blessed because when I’m not working I get to talk to people about it afterwards. People who are excited about movies just like me. I love them. I love watching movies. I have an imagination. I just like having that creativity, which just feels like it’s fuel for my soul.
But there isn’t anything specific. You’re not like, “Oh, man, I really want to play a wizard!” There isn’t any crazy, specific thing?
Casper Van Dien: I would love to be a wizard. I don’t know who wouldn’t want to be a wizard. I love westerns, and I love sci-fi. And I’d love to do some period pieces. I’ve gotten to do a lot of different things. I got to be in Tarzan, which was amazing. Getting to in Sleepy Hollow with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, which was unbelievable. Getting to work with Robert Rodriguez, even though it was just for one day or two days, was amazing, in Alita: Battle Angel. I love… I go to do Alita: Battle Angel and all Robert Rodriguez wants to do is talk about Starship Troopers. When I met Quentin Tarantino all he wanted to do was talk about Starship Troopers. Same with Eli Roth. Same with James Wan. All these directors, you meet them, they love that movie. So you still talk to them about it. I love talking to different directors and being around people. It’s just so much fun. There’s a lot of roles I want to play and keep being in. Whatever comes up next, I’m excited about the opportunities.
What’s coming up next for you? Do you have anything in the books?
Casper Van Dien: I have a couple of projects I’m supposed to go shoot soon. I have right now one called G-Loc that is out. Then I also have The Warrant out, which is Western I have out right now, and Roped. I’m also still on All American, which we’re supposed to go shoot our season 3.
The 2nd arrives on digital and on demand September 1 from Momentum Pictures.