With his classic, all-American good looks, Casper Van Dien seems like the perfect Hollywood star. It is not surprising to see that his filmography includes such roles as James Dean, Tarzan and Adonis. However, sometimes being a stud can have its drawbacks. Some critics say it's yet to be seen whether Casper is nothing more than a Ken doll, or whether he can really act.
Casper was born into a military family on December 18th , 1968, in Ridgefield, New Jersey. He comes from a long line of military men; his father is a U.S. Navy Commander and his grandfather was a marine in WWII. In fact, he grew up on a street named after his great-great-grandfather. How's that for prestige?! He briefly flirted with the idea of following in the family's footsteps and dropped out of regular high school in order to attend The Admiral Farragut Military Academy. He would eventually graduate Third in Command of his
That was enough for Casper and he soon decided that medicine would be where his life would head. He attended Florida State and entered a pre-med program. While there, he also took some Theater s for easy elective credits. Soon though, his interest in the Theater Arts would eclipse both his interest in the military and in medicine. As Casper puts it, "I went to college to study medicine. I asked myself: 'In 10 years, will I regret it if I don't try to be an actor?' And then I asked, 'will I regret it if I become an actor and not a doctor?', and I said...'nah'."
He dropped out of Florida State and moved to Los Angeles where he soon landed some beginner roles on the soap opera One Life To Live and then on Beverly Hills 90210. He cashed in on his good looks but he had yet to show any formal acting chops. Still, the television roles gave him the needed exposure to make it onto the big screen.
He began with a string of bit parts in straight-to-video releases: Night Eyes 4, Beastmaster 3 and, ironically, Casper: A Spirited Beginning. Next came James Dean: Race With Destiny, and the beginning of better things. He starred as an American icon in the film's title role. The film, which also starred his then-wife Carrie Mitchum (mother to his two children, Casper Robert Van Dien and Gracie Van Dien) and , Robert Mitchum, Carrie's grandfather was moderately successful. Next came his most successful and memorable role to date, Johnny Rico in Paul Verhoeven's futuristic action film, Starship Troopers.
As the golden boy leader of Earth's defense against the invading giant bugs, Casper had an incredibly strong screen presence. His fame was beginning to build. He would next play another American icon, Tarzan. Neither Starship Troopers nor Tarzan did very well at the box office, but they did allow America to put a name to the handsome young actor.
Casper Van Dien is rapidly gaining a large fan base, largely due to his chiseled physique. He is yet to be taken completely seriously, but that may change with an upcoming string of movies. In the spring of 99' he and girlfriend Catherine Oxenburg eloped and were married in Las Vegas. Perhaps this personal success and happiness is a sign of things to come.