American actor Casper Van Dien was in over the weekend with girlfriend Jennifer Wenger and daughter Grace Van Dien (both are actresses and cosplayers) as guests for NexCon 3. He is best known for being Johnny Rico in Starship Troopers. He also appeared opposite Johnny Depp in Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow, and he’s played Tarzan in Tarzan and the Lost City. He’s been in the industry 28 years and has 108 credits as an actor on imdb.
He’s gorgeous. He looks like he’d fit in right with the jocks and the most popular kids at school, but here’s the news: Casper Van Dien can totally speak geek.
While waiting to start the NexCon press conference, he told us he followed both The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, and that he’s a huge fan of Star Wars and Star Trek.
Got your attention? Here then are more tidbits on just how geeky our friend Casper really is:
• Very early on in his career in the mid-90s he was offered a bit part in the video game Wing Commander IV. His agent was going to pass on it but he emphatically said, “Nooooooo! I am going to do it!” He recounts, “I brought my cards from Star Wars when I was a little boy and I had Mark Hamill sign one to me and one to my son. I still have them.”
• He says, “I love films—I love being in them, I love watching them. I watch films non-stop, I watch TV shows. And I read books, I write, I love going to conventions.”
• When he was younger his father got him into Tarzan and he read all 24 Tarzan books. For his role as Tarzan, he re-read all the books as well as Jane Goodall, and talked to the late Danton Burroughs (Edgar Rice Burrough’s grandson) for perspective.
• He has always wanted to play Jake Barnes—the lead character from Ernest Hemingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises. “I’ve always been fascinated by that book ever since I was little and I like these kinds of characters.” Oddly enough, he was given the role of a guy named Jack Barnes in a TV movie, Premonition.
• Casper went around NexCon along with Grace and Jenny and just had fun with the fans. In the words of Jennifer, “The way he is with the fans, you would think he’s known them his entire life. He hangs out with the crowds, he’s actually interacting with them.” That he did and there are pictures to prove it. He speaks the language of the fans and really does an excellent job of connecting with them.
• Nexcon 3 is the first convention Casper, Jennifer and Grace have attended together. The next one will be Monsterpalooza in a few weeks in Pasadena.
Hopefully we get to see Casper Van Dien next in Mucho Dinero with Danny Trejo and in Showdown in Manila.
You were a ton of fun to chat with Mr. Van Dien. Too bad my column has a word limit.