Casper Van Dien Makes a Better Future in Salvage Marines

salvage Marines popcornflix
Airing on PopcornFlix Sept. 1st.

Imagine having immense debt the minute that you’re born. This may not seem too far off for some of us, but admittedly the world of Popcorn Flix’s Salvage Marines is much more bleak.

Starring Casper Van Dien as Samuel Hyst, Salvage Marines transports us to a world where family is found and the legacy you leave can mean life or death for those who come after.

Sam is a regular Joe who’s working in a pollutant ridden industrial factory on planet Baen 6. He’s working off not only his own debt, but the debt of his father. He’s doing what he can to care for his young family and is vaguely satisfied with his positing in life until he learns his wife Sura (Linara Washington) is expecting a baby.

Sam Hyst
Casper Van Dien and Linara Washington

Now Sam is a bit older than the usual workers. He’s in his 40s and can’t stomach only making enough to still leave his future child in debt. With newfound purpose he, along with his best friend Ben Takeda (Peter Shinkoda), enlist to become Salvage Marines!

They’re not entirely unlike what we’re used to. The Salvage Marines are a group of elite foot soldiers that operate for a military deep space organization. The missions have a low survival rate, but they pay high and guarantee that the soldiers who survive will be set for life. Sam and Ben work hard to prove they have what it takes despite their age and general knowledge of how things really are. The grueling training and the missions that escalate in violence and casualties are only part of the new set of circumstances Sam has to worry about. There’s also his superior officer Jada Sek.

Before Sam can even begin to figure that one out, he’s sent on a mission where they encounter their rivals from another corporation. They’re outnumbered and outgunned and it looks like the end is near. Will Sam be able to come through and keep his marriage intact long enough to save it? You’ll have to see for yourself!

Don’t worry though, I’ve got a little scoop for you from Sam himself! I sat with Casper Van Dien during San Diego Comic-Con to talk about the new series and why we should all watch.

The Geekiary: Planet Baen 6, sounds like a “Baen” in the backside. But the salvage marines don’t seem like much of a better option.

The team
Casper Van Dien and Peter Shinkoda

Casper Van Dien: Well, you join the salvage marines so you can get your family out and pay off your debts and your family’s debts. The problem with that is the mortality rate is over 80%. And then most of the people that do survive are missing parts of their body and then have to have [artificial limbs] added back on by the company which puts them back into servitude.

How does it compare to your character in Starship Troopers?

CVD: In Starship Troopers when I did that, my character was very much going straight forward. He was very much like, “This is the mobile infantry, this is what we do.” In Starship Troopers I signed up to be with a girl, to impress a girl. But in [Salvage Marines] I sign up to save my family and then I start discovering that things might not be so good.

In the show, the Salvage Marines are managed by a corporation. Sure, there are faces behind the corporation, but really it’s about the conglomerate.

CVD: It’s about the machine. Making money and taking advantage of all of us in that world. We’re just an end to their means. What the company does is supply ammunition and weapons to both sides. So they’re just feeding a war while we grow more and more debt to pass down to our children.

One one hand, you want to take care of your workforce, but when there are so many they become expendable.

CVD: It became more cost effective to not care.

One thing that’s fascinating is the benefits of hiring people in their 20s. They’re at their peak physically but also unshaped by the world. That means you can throw your propaganda into them in a way you can’t with someone who is older and more experienced.

CVD: It’s interesting you bring up ageism in this because when we sit at the table Peter [Shinkoda], who plays Takeda says, “All right, let’s just get the elephant out of the room.” It’s funny, the way he does it is brilliant. I liked that because we’re not just one character, we’re not one note. Our characters may have signed up for different reasons, but once I get there and now these reapers are soldiers and become my team.

I think because of my age I start seeing things aren’t right. In Starship Troopers my character’s like, “That’s the mobile infantry, that’s what we’re good for, we keep doing this”. In Salvage Marines not so much. I have a little bit of a chance, I love being able to do both.”

I loved Takeda’s line of “You guys just started your lives and you’re gonna die, at least we got to live a little.”

CVD: That was brilliant. He’s awesome and a great actor, too. It was a lot of fun working with these people.

Talk to me about the diversity in the show? I love how effortless it feels.

CVD: What I love about our show is that we’re a multiracial, multicultural cast. But that’s not what the story is about. And I love that, because we’re all treated equal. I don’t understand the rhetoric today, it’s really hateful and it’s absurd to me. It’s something I don’t understand and I didn’t grow up that way. My mom is very, very open and she’s just amazing so I was lucky to have that. When people see the show they’re going to relate to student debts, life debts, all the things we have to do. And they’ll relate and be able to see themselves in some way in it.

I know you have an affinity for Sci-fi. What is it about that genre that speaks to you?

CVD: I grew up watching Star Trek, you know, Captain Kirk and wishing I could have been him. And Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, Doctor Who, I like all of these. In this show, what was fun for me was that this was kind of like a kickback to that. We’re not some big budget studio thing, we’re a little independent show where we really were working together very hard and it was awesome. Everybody’s enthusiasm was infectious and we just had so much fun. We’re family.

Casper Van Dien
Casper Van Dien

It’s family in every sense. Your wife Jennifer Wenger plays Jada.

CVD: Yes! And Linara Washington who plays my wife Sura is my wife’s friend; she’s the one that suggested her! She said, “I’m not going to play your wife,” and then she said to [Linara] “You want to come kiss my husband?” That’s literally what she said!

This show is so fun and the spirit of it is really engaging. If you had to pinpoint a take-away you want the audience to have, what would it be?

CVD: It’s a Sci-fi series and it’s about trying to get out of debt and everything like that. But I think what I would love the audience to see the most is the relationships. Because these are all really good friends of mine and I hope people see how awesome they are. Peter and I are brothers and no, we may not look the same, but that doesn’t matter. I want people to see this and go, “omg, I love the way they are together!” The people, that’s the most important thing.

Salvage Marines is airing now on PopcornFlix. Let us know your thoughts on the show!


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