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The Role In Starship Troopers The Director Secretly Played

Starship Troopers is a cult classic dystopian sci-fi flick that's full of tiny details, ingenious worldbuilding, and a cast of stellar actors who deliver pitch-perfect performances. And, a major force behind the film's lasting appeal is its director, Paul Verhoeven, who also directed Total Recall and Robocop. Not only did Verhoeven guide the cast of Starship Troopers, he was also one of the film's many boots on the ground. That's right, Verhoeven also acted in the movie.

Granted, the practice of directors playing characters in their own films is a long-standing tradition, but usually they are front and center, if at least for a moment. You can't watch an Alfred Hitchcock movie without keeping your eyes peeled for the moment he cameos in it, and Mel Brooks always hands himself at least several minutes worth of screen time. But, it doesn't matter how many times you watch Starship Troopers because you will never see his face on screen, but his effect is readily apparent.

He bugged actors to create the perfect reactions of staring down bugs

Good movie magic draws audiences into fictional worlds by convincing them that whatever fantastic of frightful sight they're seeing on screen is actually real. It's easier to pull this off when only live actors or animatronic puppets are visible, but what about when a movie features computer generate imagery or stop motion creatures? Actors still need a point of reference not only for where to look, but how to react and when. In Starship Troopers, Paul Verhoeven was both the physical and emotional point of reference.

According to interviews with actors such as Denise Richards (Carmen Ibanez) and Clancy Brown (Sergeant Zim), whenever Verhoeven needed to convey the size of Starship Troopers' alien bugs, he would just jump up and down on set with a broom (via The Guardian). And, when he needed actors to enter the headspace of staring down a big, scary alien, Verhouven would add a bullhorn to the mix, shouting, "I'm a big f*****g bug! I'll kill you!" (via Empire Online). According to Brown, Verhoeven's antics occasionally worked a little too well since "tempers sometimes flared." Verhoeven even once exploded at the CGI artists because the planets didn't move correctly, but the end effect was the Starship Troopers audiences know and love. Apparently when producing a satire of a fascist's paradise, tough love is the key.