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In “Starship Troopers,” Casper Van Dien played Johnny Rico, a square-jawed, bright-eyed high school student who had been taught from a young age to fear and hate a distant species of Arachnids from the planet Klendathu. Every teen is whole-heartedly encouraged to join the military by adults who are missing limbs, lost in the ongoing, generations-long war effort. The Arachnids are never given a voice, and none of the characters seem to know their particular grievance. Verhoeven seems to imply, however, that it was humans that started the war, and that it is now being held in perpetuity, fueling society in an Orwellian fashion.
Johnny and his buddies Dizzy (Dina Meyer), Ace (Jake Busey), and Carmen (Denise Richards) all enlist. Carmen is a space pilot, while the others all fight on the ground. After basic training — and only a small amount of scar-rendering corporal punishment — the troops are able to ship out to the front. In order to depict their closeness as a unit, Verhoeven pictured a co-ed shower scene where men and women mutually and casually strip nude and kibbitz while washing.
In a 2017 retrospective interview with Digital Spy, Verhoeven recalls the shower scene well. A dozen actors had to be nude in the room together and Verhoeven, to take the edge off, elected to strip nude himself. Why ask actors to get nude if he wasn’t willing to do it himself? The director was proud of his decision, confirming: “Yeah, sure I did that. And it helped!”