Lance Henriksen – Interview

Lance Henriksen

“Aliens” was the film that took my ideal of “Star Wars”, and broke it. There were no “Lord of the Rings” set in space scenes, no epic space battles, just a pure run and gun fest that was captivating and chilling. Thankfully my three favourite characters survived the carnage, “Hicks”, “Ripley” and “Bishop”, although this was then shattered by “Aliens 3”, but I always found it personally odd that I liked a character that was an android.

Chatting to Henriksen at this years Collectormania event in Milton Keynes was a great experience, not only is he an incredible actor but he’s an accomplished painter and potter too, and when you look over the interviews he’s done in the past you get some terrific insight into his experiences. Take a look at some of them here – one of my favourites being:

“I’ve broken bones doing stunts, I’ve always been one to have a go. But after a while I realized that there are some things not worth doing. Stunt men pay a price, some of them can hardly walk when they’re older. John Woo set me on fire twice for Hard Target (1993). It burnt my ears! But I would’ve done anything for John Woo.”

When he mentioned that he was considering quitting acting if the “Bishop” role didn’t work as intended, I was genuinely shocked. Afterall, “Bishop” was one of the coolest Sci-Fi characters along with “Roy” from Bladerunner that I have ever seen. And did you know that originally, James Cameron had Henriksen in mind for the role of The Terminator!

What has been the most enjoyable role for you?

Now you see, that is the million dollar question. I’ve done so many over the years, but, Bishop was certainly a transitional role for me. The reason for that is because before that part I was always just serving the role whereas with Bishop I was determined to portray a real character, and it worked out. I think if I hadn’t had seen that work out on screen in Aliens, I may have actually quit acting.


Yeah, really. I worked in a way that I knew would get the best results, put a lot of work into it, so I was really happy when I saw the results. And I’m still around so it paid off.

Talking of Prometheus, did you see it?

Yes I did. It’s maybe because I’m not smart enough, but I couldn’t follow it. I mean, I was dazzled by it, it’s a spectacle, and I loved Noomi’s work in it and the others were great too, but the movie itself? I’m not really a movie geek, and maybe that’s it, but I just couldn’t follow what they were trying to do. It was a very complicated movie.

Ok, going back to Aliens, the knife scene with Hudson, was the film sped up?

No. He tried to do that and at one point sped the film up but it just didn’t look right, it didn’t look real. So he had me come back and redo it.

Are you aware of how many children stabbed themselves with compasses etc re-enacting that scene (myself included)!?

(Laughs) Yeah, I was one of those people too! (Laughs) Yeah, I’ve got scars on the tops of fingers, yeah like that (points at both of our hands that have a couple of scars on them whilst laughing). You know, I had every knife you can imagine in my suitcase, and well, when I landed over here for that scene the security guys were very interested in talking to me, obviously. I said, “look, I’m just an actor”, and naturally their response was “step away from your suitcase please”. They were on the verge of not letting me into the country, the company had to send someone down to get me, if they hadn’t done that, well, the security guys weren’t going to let me into the country. Things have obviously changed these days, but they understood, we talked for hours about it!

And which roles gave you the most freedom to develop the character as you wanted?

Oh any of these (points to the pictures one the desk of Aliens, Millennium, Near Dark. But Millennium, that was three years solid, and of course when you have a character for that amount of time, you have more of an opportunity to develop them.

And what’s the hardest thing about being an actor?

Hardest thing was doing theatre. I starved to death in New York for about five years. There’s nothing more gaunt then a starving actor in New York!

Thank you for your time.

That’s ok, I just hope you heard me ok as it’s pretty noisy in here!

A big thank you to Lance for his time, and to the Showmasters Crew for being so helpful on the day.


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