Opening in select theaters, on Digital and On Demand beginning February 10th is the new horror thriller ‘Daughter,’ from writer and director Corey Deshon (‘A Million Little Things’).
What is ‘Daughter’ about?
The movie follows a young woman (Vivien Ngo) who is 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, leading to even darker implications about the future and a conflict with Father (Casper Van Dien).
Who is in the cast?
The film stars ‘Starship Troopers’ Casper Van Dien as Father, Vivien Ngo (‘Queen Sugar’) as Sister, Megan Le (‘Big Sky’) as Daughter, Ian Alexander (‘Star Trek: Discovery’) as Brother, and Elyse Dinh (‘Spider-Man 2’) as Mother.
Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with Casper Van Dien about his work on ‘Daughter,’ his approach to his character, working with the cast, having fun on set, director Corey Deshon, and the legacy of ‘Starship Troopers.’
Related Articles: ‘Daughter’ Exclusive Clip
Moviefone: To begin with, when you are making a film as intense as ‘Daughter,’ what’s the mood like on set? Is it fun or emotionally draining?
Casper Van Dien: I think I always have fun when I’m on a set because I’m actually getting to do what I love. So I feel grateful, and I get to do interviews like this. I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t an actor or in the entertainment industry like us. We’re a sick set of individuals because we have the weirdest schedules and the things that we do, but we get so excited talking about movies, and making movies. I know you understand this because this is what you’re doing too, so to get on set is insane.
This movie, however, why it was so intense was that it was all shot on film, and even the camera that they used was an old camera from the ’70s. They even used the old Polaroids. So, I was so thrilled because we were doing that, but even with that you make mistakes.
Because there’s one day when director Corey Deshon came to me and he goes, “Casper, you remember that three-page monologue you had?” I said, “Yeah. The one I shot four days ago?” He goes, “Yeah. It didn’t work.” I said, “The footage didn’t work?” He says, “No.” So we had to reshoot it. I said, “When are we reshooting?” He answered, “In 15 minutes.” So, as an actor you memorize all these things, and it was mostly me talking in that scene, but then we had to reshoot it. But the whole crew, everybody was so excited. It was mostly a Vietnamese cast and people of color. So, it was just a very enthusiastic and fun place to work.
MF: Can you talk about your first reaction to the screenplay and your approach to playing Father?
CVD: It was interesting. I went into this, even the way I was combing my hair in it, I would leave my house that way, and my wife and daughters were like, “It’s just creeping us out the way you are. Just the way you look and the way you walk.” I was just getting in my headspace. It’s not like I was some method actor, I’m not. I’m an insane actor, so I just do whatever it takes to make it work for me.
I was in this place, and it just felt right, everything I did with ‘Daughter.’ The way Corey Deshon writes, he’s so creative and so intelligent, and his mind’s always thinking. I would ask him a question. He would pause and think about it and say, “I’m going to get back to you.” And he’d go and think about it, and he’d come back, “This is why that would work,” or, “This is why that wouldn’t work.”
He was just such an interesting director. He had put so much thought and effort into it, as any good director should, but it was interesting to watch him. Then his explanations, he never wanted to answer me without really having a solid answer, which I thought was fascinating, and an interesting character study for me as well. I found him very fascinating. I found the whole cast fascinating.
MF: Can you talk about the emotional warfare that Father uses on his family and especially Daughter to control them?
CVD: Yeah, he’s pretty intimidating. The character in there, I think he’s just somebody who is so set in his ways and he knows that if he does this, everybody’s going to be all right and everything’s going to be fine. If it doesn’t go the way he’s planned, then it’s all to going to Hell in a handbasket. As that character, I had to justify his actions, and it was all for my son and how special he was.
MF: What was it like for you working with the rest of the cast?
CVD: They were all amazing actors to work with. Ian was so incredible and so focused on it. Vivien was so into her character, and Elyse played a wonderful wife in it. I just loved all their nuances. Also Megan, who was the first Daughter who I was very brutal with, it was just interesting to see everybody. I got along great with everybody in real time. The wardrobe, and everything they set up was really nice. I liked all the concepts Corey had for all the stuff, everything just seemed old and out of place. So you’re not quite sure what time period it is, what’s happening or where it’s at. I liked that.
The ambiguity of it all, everything being so you can’t quite place it, even my truck. It was just fun. Every aspect of it was so interesting for me. There was a moment where I would talk to Corey and I would see the way he wrote. Some of them are quotes from the Bible and different writings and teachings, and I thought that was nice because I researched some of that. I studied some of them and I was like, “Oh, this is interesting it came from this.” So, I’d ask him questions about it. He’s just a wealth of information, and I liked where he was going with everything.
Then just to play that character was, my wife and daughters were all happy when I was no longer being him, because I literally went to set with my hair and everything set in that mode. I was just like, “I’m going to set,” and I came home like that. I didn’t go off and say, “Okay, let me go do something else.” I didn’t wear much makeup. I just had my beard, my weird part in my hair and the dialogue.
The dialogue was so much. I just wanted to own all the dialogue. I wanted it to be something that would come out, so that’s why I would rehearse it, so that it felt like it was exactly the way Corey wrote it. I just thought he was so odd and different, and reading it, I was like, “What is he doing? Why is he doing that? Why is he preaching like this?” It was fun to play all those places and beats.
MF: Your character has some long, very intense monologues. Can you talk about the challenges of filming those scenes?
CVD: Well, I think I have an advantage. I’m severely dyslexic. Now, I still have a hard time reading, because I’m extremely dyslexic, but it has become something that has become a superpower for me in a way. It’s something I’m really good at, memorizing scripts and learning dialogue, and over the years I think that’s just come from experience and continually doing it and training my brain that way, because it’s not something you can do. I write things out, I work on them, and I go over different things. I really rehearse it, because in the old days we used to rehearse. Now sometimes some actors, some of the younger ones today, nothing against them, but they’re like, “I don’t want to rehearse because I want it to be fresh.”
The great directors back in the day, they used to rehearse for months beforehand. Then it became weeks but we still had that on the big sets, and we’re not afforded that luxury so often anymore. But I still try to take as much as I can. I try to do that process so that I’m working on it myself, and when I come in, if the other actors want to work, I’m so excited about it. Because I feel like if you rehearse it, then anything that happens, the magic can be a nuance and it can just come out and flow easy. It seems to come easier that way. If you practice and rehearse, then by the time you get in, everything flows better. I think that’s the same in sports too.
MF: Finally, can you talk about the legacy of ‘Starship Troopers?’ People are still talking about that movie over 25 years later, so what does it mean for you personally to be a part of that project?
CVD: I love ‘Starship Troopers.’ I love being a part of it, I love that we just had the 25th anniversary of it, and I loved working with director Paul Verhoeven. I think that it was mind-boggling to me back in the day when I was 27, but when it came out, some of the press and some of the publicity missed it. I think some of the people missed it because they were publicizing it more like a killing bug movie rather than what it really was, a reverse propaganda war movie, basically. That’s the genius of Verhoeven and Ed Neumeier, and I love them. But even when Robert Rodriguez had me in ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ playing Amok, he was like, “You’re Old Man Rico in this.” I said, “All right, I love it.”
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‘Daughter’ will be released in select theaters on February, 10th from Thirteenth Floor Pictures and OneWorld Entertainment, and will be released in both English and Vietnamese.