Special thanks to Big Air Studios, I recently got the opportunity to interview Casper Van Dien who many of us fans of Starship Troopers would recognize as the one and only, Johnny Rico. Casper and I chatted about his new film NOOBZ which opens this weekend, but I also asked him what he thought of people out there trying to find correlation between public shooting and game violence and of course, you can't chat with Casper Van Dien without asking him about STARSHIP TROOPER and also his playing Johnny Cage in MORTAL KOMBAT: LEGACY - SEASON 2. And he also seemed to suggest that the new MORTAL KOMBAT live action reboot Movie may start filming later this year. Check out the entire interview below..
RS: Do you consider yourself a skilled gamer?
CVD: “I like to play video games, but I saw what the skilled gamers are, even for the meetings I took with the producer and director and writer, and everybody in this, I was over at their house for the meeting and they’d all be playing like in tournaments for either Gears Of War or whatever it was they’d be playing, different tournaments. We do the meetings while they’re doing tournaments; we talk about the script while they’re doing tournaments, so it’s really interesting to see that’s what I consider more of the gamers. Then I met some of the actual, because they had some of real gamers in the film, I saw their lifestyle is and it’s a lot different than just playing game comparatively, even when I’m just playing game with my son in my house, there’s a big difference. So the real gamers, I have a lot of respect for their ability, it’s just a lot more work too.”
RS: So you play games occasionally or did you also grow up playing video games?
CVD: “I grew up playing games. My whole life I used to go down to the corner store. I’m 44, so I’ve played a lot of different games, I played the Atari, the original one, before all these, I started out with Pong, so I’ve been playing video games my whole life.”
RS: A lot of people who don't understand this world, would think that gaming community or gamers or gaming tournaments to be a waste of time. What do you think is the fascination with this world?
CVD: “I have children and a wife and it wouldn’t work out for me but I’ve got this friend, he has a wife and everything and he’s a professional gamer, he’s actually in the movie and he’s able to do it, but he’s a whole culture, he has a huge following, people come and watch him play, and they watch his website and everything like that. There’s some skill level that goes along with it. It just depends on what you do and how you do it. There’s a lot of people who play differently. I don’t know, it’s not what I do because my field of love is film, I love being in films, but then look at Zelda Williams was in this, Robin Williams’’ daughter, and she was named after a video game character, and she’s a gamer and he’s a gamer and he’s a huge movie star, so I guess you can be that too.”
RS: Whose idea was it to have you play yourself in this film? Because you didn't get to play another character here.
CVD: “I think that’s the director/writer, Blake Freeman, who’s a pal of mine, who wrote this and looked at that part of me because there’s a lot of gamers and a lot of people who are still fans of Starship Troopers, at least I get a lot of tweets about it on my twitter and on Facebook, people yelling, ‘Hey, Johnny Rico!’ so it’s something that has a huge fanbase, so it was his idea, it’s a question you’ll have to ask him but he wanted me to be that character and he wanted me to be that way, it was still fun to do.”
RS: Is there an updated version of STARSHIP TROOPERS game, something that may be in the works perhaps?
CVD: “Based more off of the latest animated movie, it’s an online shooter game, you can actually get on your iPad, it’s kinda like more like the animated movie that Shinji Aramaki directed. And then they have some other video games and stuff like that but I think it’d be nice if they could do a real one like they do with the Gears of War or something like that, I think it’d be something easy to make, I don’t know why they don’t.. it seems like a no brainer to me.”
RS: How was the atmosphere on the set, did you guys have a lot of fun shooting this film?
CVD: “A lot of goofing around, a lot of fun. It was interesting to watch some of the gamers really get into it because they just got excited, I just had a blast, everybody was really cool and laid back and funny.”
RS: In the movie, one of the lead characters forfeited the game over a woman, would you give up such an important tournament for a woman?
CVD: “I think I’ve been motivated to do everything in my life because of women. If my wife asked me to do something, I think I’d have to. And I have my daughters, they get away with so much with me, so ya I think if it wasn’t a woman, no. But there’s a woman involved, yes, the sky is a limit.”
RS: Let me ask you a serious question here. Ever since the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, everybody seems to be pointing the blame at movies and games for the possible cause of public shooting and violence that have been going around, what is your opinion on that and do you think that's fair?
CVD: “Games have always been around, and Guns have always been around and we do have the 2nd amendment. It’s just part of our culture. My personal belief, because you can’t control the mental health of everybody but you can control the availability and the restrictions, I know restrictions can be tight already with some of it, but for some certain weapons, I think just shouldn’t be allowed into general public. As far as comic books or video games or movies being the fault of it, there are countries that have gaming and online experience with more violent games than ours ,without restrictions, and they don’t have the gun availability in their countries and they have not even close to the amount of gun killing that we do. I love 2nd amendment and I love the right to bear arms, I love our country, but I just think that people evolve, time evolves and we should think about what should be available. What they were saying in the 2nd amendment, it was about a rifle, to protect yourself, so you don’t need a hundred magazine, I don’t know, I’m an actor, but I think that the cause of the violence or the shooting done by movies, games, and comic books, I really don’t believe that, because everybody plays them and if that was really the case, we’d have a lot more. I believe that it’s unfortunately a mental health issue or problem, a parenting issue. Some parents are not even equipped to do it. It’s really difficult. What kind of weapons they believe they can have.”
RS: What can you give to excite us fans of STARSHIP TROOPERS? Will there be another installment?
CVD: “I always hear rumors about them trying to make another one. And if they do, I think it’d be awesome, and if they asked me to be in it, I’d love to. If not, Id’ still love to watch it and support it. Right now, I loved it when Shinji Aramaki, when they asked me to be part of the Starship Troopers anime, just to be a producer and give my feedback, I loved btin a part of it that way, that was fantastic to me, I love that world, I love that people still tweet about it, so whatever happens with Starship Troopers, it will always have my full support.”
RS: What are your next projects and will you be putting on a different hat as a director or producer perhaps?
CVD: “I’d love to direct someday, I’m working on a script with my wife, I’m off to shoot another film, I just finished playing Johnny Cage in Mortal Kombat web series, so that’s another video game. It was actually mentioned by the NRA when they said it was the cause of gun violence; let me tell you, I was playing Mortal Kombat when I was a little, little kid, I’m 44 now, I never went out and shot anybody. So you can’t really blame it on that. I just think that you’ve gotta be careful with what you have.”
RS: Let me ask you quickly about MORTAL KOMBAT: LEGACY. In season 1, Johny Cage was played by Matt Mullins but you get to play Johnny Cage in season 2, so are you bringing a better version of Johnny Cage or what can we anticipate?
CVD: “I think the guy that did Johnny Cage in the first series, I think he was a phenomenal player, and I have nothing bad to say about him at all, I think that even him doing his part helped in me getting this part, so I appreciate it. And the first season he did, and now I’m in the second season and the film gets started this year. Kevin Tancharoen, the director of it, is directing the film and we’ll see where that goes, I’d love to be a part of it, if that happens. Either way, if not, that’s cool too, it will have my full support.”