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Casper Van Dien

Five Questions With... Titans' Casper Van Dien

By Christine Champagne from Gist.com

Casper Van Dien has gone from Tarzan to Titans' top gun. The buff 31-year-old actor, whose credits include films such as 1997's Starship Troopers and 1998's Tarzan and the Lost City, is cast as a Navy fighter pilot in Aaron Spelling's latest primetime soap, a show being touted as this season's guilty pleasure.

Van Dien plays Chandler Williams, the son of a wealthy Beverly Hills mogul (Perry King). In Titans' opener, the Navy man returns home to attend his father's wedding and is stunned to see that his soon-to-be-stepmom (Baywatch's Yasmine Bleeth) is a woman he only recently had an affair with.

Given the potentially explosive setup, Van Dien is in for some major drama. He is no stranger to the world of soaps, of course. Beverly Hills, 90210 fans will remember Van Dien as Griffin Stone, one of Donna's (Tori Spelling) many beaus; he also appeared on the daytime soap opera One Life to Live as Ty Moody.

Meanwhile, Van Dien's wife is also familiar with the genre: He is married to former Dynasty star Catherine Oxenberg.

Gist caught up with the actor during the recent Television Critics Association Press Tour in Pasadena, CA.

How did you get involved with Titans?

"They offered me the show, and I had been saying no to all TV because I had just been having so much fun doing films. Then Chuck Pratt [executive producer of Titans] said he really wanted to talk to me. He called me and said, 'I wrote this character with you in mind. We put out a call for a Casper Van Dien type. And I just wanted to see if maybe you'd even consider doing this because you'd still be able to do a film a year and cameos in films. We'll work with you on that.' So I read it, and I said, 'Wow, this looks like it would be fun, and I could be around my family.' I travel so much, so to be home with my three children is wonderful."

What is it like to work with Yasmine?

"Yasmine is one of the funniest women I think I've ever met in my life. We were always laughing [when we shot the pilot]. When the camera was off, we didn't stop laughing. We were in hysterics, pulling our pants down, dancing around, singing songs, laughing, making jokes."

It doesn't seem like such a stretch for you to play a military man. You carry yourself like you're a soldier.

"I grew up in a military family. I went to Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg, FL. My father was in the Navy. My grandfather was in the Marine Corps. My other grandfather died in the Navy. We have admirals and captains and grunts: Every male in my family served in the military except for myself."

Why did you opt not to go into the military and go into acting instead?

"Both my parents are teachers. So I think that helped. They also brought me to Off-Broadway productions growing up. I grew up in Ridgefield, NJ, and for 13 and a half years I went into New York and saw theater. And my dad's a big film buff, so we watched a lot of films. When I was 7, I fell in love with Natalie Wood and said, 'I want to be the man on the big screen kissing her.' "

You're in good shape. You look like you might be able to win Survivor. Would you ever audition for a show like Survivor II?

"No. Survivor is not my kind of show. It's not my cup of tea. If I had to be put some place, I think I could easily survive. But I don't think I'd want to be on a show like that. I don't like what I hear about all the negativity and the put-downs. That's not me. I wouldn't fit in with that part of it, so they'd probably kick me off because I would sit there and say, 'Excuse me. You need to apologize because you're being rude.' "