Casper Van Dien on Chilling Role in New Film Daughter

Feb 13, 2023

We all remember veteran actor Casper Van Dien’s breakout role of “Rico” in the hugely successful Paul Verhoeven sci-fi film Starship Troopers, which has one of the largest cult followings in film history. Casper reprised his iconic persona in the third Starship Troopers film, which also saw some success, and also sunk his teeth into the iconic titular role in Tarzan and the Lost City. And now there’s Daughter, in select theaters, digital, and on-demand as of February 10.

Daughter is a chilly, frightening psychological thriller that follows a young woman who gets kidnapped and inducted into a bizarre family as their new surrogate “daughter.” As she navigates through this twisted dynamic, awful secrets about the past are revealed and lead to even darker implications about the future. Shot on 16mm film with a predominantly Vietnamese cast, Van Dien’s new starring vehicle is a uniquely diverse and genre-bending tale in the vein of Dogtooth and even 10 Cloverfield Lane. Inspired by feminist existentialist philosopher Simone De Beauvoir’s The Ethics of Ambiguity, the film is a meditation on the morality and ethics of freedom and creative expression within an oppressed system.
We recently caught up with Van Dien, who dished on his terrifying new role and other projects in the works. With five other films hitting the masses these days, it’s safe to say the accomplished actor is busy.

Taking the Lead in a Unique Project

MW: What was it about Daughter that first attracted you to the project?

Casper Van Dien: Well, my agent got the script, and he goes, “You need to do this.” And my manager was like, “I don’t know if he needs to do it.” And then my agent was like, “No, he needs to do this.” And I read it, and I go, “Oh, I need to do it.” My manager was like, “Really?” And then later, he’s like, “OK yeah, I get it now.” But at first, he was a little bit [skeptical], but I read it and was like, “Oh my god.” [Writer-director] Corey Deshon, the way he writes is incredible. And I just loved that it was loosely based on real facts and real events. And I thought that’s interesting. And the fact that we shot it pre-pandemic, we shot this four years ago, all of that was great. And we shot it all on film. And even the Polaroids were vintage Polaroid, the first Polaroids. And the camera that they shot the stills with was an old Nikon, whatever it was, or Canon. It was an old, old camera, though. It’s from like the ’70s… Everything was so interesting for me on this. I just got into character right away. I would get up, combed my hair that [special] way, and had my beard, and I go off to go to work, and my daughters and wife are all creeped out by me. And then I come back from work and still be with my hair parted in the middle, with the beard. And they were still so creeped out by me… So I was doing something right, I guess [laughs].

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MW: Your performance was just fantastic, And I love psychological thrillers like this.

Van Dien: I have a couple more coming out right now. I have Mad Heidi out right now, where I play a Swiss dictator — that’s insane. There’s also County Line: No Fear, I play a crazy guy in that one, with Tom Wopat from The Dukes of Hazzard, on Amazon… And then I have Heart of a Champion, which is just a nice kid movie about horses… And Monsters of California, with Tom DeLonge from blink-182 directing that one. But Daughter, this guy Corey [Deshon] is such a great director. And he’s so interesting and such a great writer. And the way he did everything, I just was so excited. And the mostly Vietnamese cast was amazing… It was just fun to be in, with all these people that were so enthusiastic about the script, and they put their heart and soul into it and just made it more thrilling for me to even go to work.

Starship Troopers and Other Projects

Dark Star Pictures

MW: If there were another opportunity for you to return to the Starship Troopers franchise, would you be interested?

Van Dien: Yeah, we almost did a TV show with a little-known director named Robert Rodriguez. After I did Alita: Battle Angel with him… he was like your, “You’re old man Rico in this.” So we almost got together with that because Sony asked me if he would be interested in, and I asked him, he said, “Yeah, let’s just talk about it…” So they had Robert Rodriguez, who was willing to do it, but now he’s too busy with his Mandalorian projects… [Sony] missed the boat. They almost had it. That was four years ago… But yes, I would totally do Johnny Rico again. I mean, I just did sort of like that in Salvage Marines, a six-episode series where I play a kind of old man Rico… And then Mad Heidi, which is out, they have these references that are like Starship Troopers in it, and they even had name tags. One is “Verhoeven,” one is “Rodriguez”… That’s a great movie… This and Daughter, both of them have just been winning [at film festivals], and they’re both out this month.

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You know, I think I have five or six films coming out this month. But I shot all of them over the last four years. They’re just all coming out in one month. It’s just insane… I have another one called Hunt Club. Just like, an insane amount of movies, but all shot in the last four years… I’m very proud of them. I just think that they were all done really well. But especially, I’m just so excited that this movie Daughter is coming out and finding an audience.

Daughter is in select theaters, on Digital and On Demand as of February 10, 2023

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