A good filmmaker would never ask an actor to do something they wouldn’t do themselves. To support him in his process during Taxi Driver, Scorcese got drunk with De Niro. And did coke with De Niro. And almost went on a psychopathic shooting spree like De Niro. So when legendary shlock director Paul Verhoeven wanted his Starship Troopers cast to show their privates to stick it to the censors, he did what any good leader would do and led the unshaven charge.
As one of the greatest satirical sci-fi filmmakers (so good most people don’t even realize he’s not a cyberfascist), Paul Verhoeven loves to make audiences uncomfortable by shining a light on patriarchal oppression and manipulation of the masses. But as a filthy, sexually liberated European, he also loves to make American audiences uncomfortable by showing some boobies. To this end, Verhoeven insists that all of his sci-fi movies’ hyperviolent dystopias have somehow achieved perfect gender equality, which he then symbolizes with his favorite trope: the gratuitously co-ed locker room scene.
After trying it out in RoboCop, Verhoeven eagerly awaited puritanical audiences to balk at watching a woman being shot in the nude when they had no problem watching a guy being shot in the dick. But to sneak it past the censors, the scene happened so fast most viewers didn’t even notice nipples slipping onto the screen. So for his next sci-fi, the Aryans vs. arthropods epic Starship Troopers, a frustrated Verhoeven decided to stop being so subtle. (Yes, RoboCop was him being subtle). This is why, out of nowhere, the movie features an extended co-ed shower scene featuring half of the main cast fully nude.
But his young cast of Third Reich Riverdale characters didn’t feel all that comfortable with stripping down for what must’ve felt like a very gratuitous B-movie nude scene. That was until Dina Meyer, whose breasts bear the brunt of the topless take, came up with a compromise. In a refreshing reversal of the typical Hollywood story, the young actress approached the aged filmmaker and told him that if he wanted to do this movie scene, he was going to have to show her just how far he was willing to go to get a shot.
The Dutch director was going to have to drop trou. To the cast’s great surprise, both Verhoeven and award-winning Das Boot cinematographer Jost Vacano (who had grown up in a German nudist colony) immediately agreed to whip out their jaundiced submarines in solidarity. Verhoeven recalls: “For me, it was a bit more difficult, but I said to Jost, ‘Hey, we need to give an example …’ He said ‘Of course,’ and boom!” And it worked like a charm. “We undressed, and of course, then everyone started to laugh. Then we shot the scene with no problem.”
The freeballing filmmaker finally succeeded in his mission of portraying his casually asexual society in one glorious shower scene by lightening the mood. Perhaps a bit too light. Stars Casper Van Dien and Jake Busey had decided to play a prank to keep the floppy fun going. While stripping down for the scene, they swung around to reveal that they had fitted their little troopers with “Dirk Diggler Boogie Nights” giant prosthetic penises, shocking cast members with their cast member. But why two hunky 20-something actors felt the need to overcompensate in the presence of saggy sextagenarians remains a mystery. Perhaps the competition was stiffer than they had expected.
Cedric is a comedian and long-time writer of underwhelming penis jokes. Would you like to know more?
Top Image: Sony Pictures