Throughout his illustrious career, legendary Lance Henriksen has played everything from an android to a ruthless vampire leader to a mourning father who turns to the supernatural for revenge to an ex-FBI agent who becomes a serial killer profiler with a secret group working against the prophecies of an impending apocalypse.
In the recent Sony Home Pictures release of “>Screamers: The Hunting (review), Henriksen plays Orsow, the reclusive scientist responsible for creating the screamer androids who annihilated the human race in the original Screamers film in 1995. Henriksen was a huge fan of the original film so it felt like a perfect fit to step into the sequel.
During a recent chat the living legend, Henriksen discussed his view of the character, “I saw the character of Orsow as this lonely guy who was so isolated because of his work. Because of that isolation, he went a bit crazy and lost control over his work. What I love is how so many science-fiction stories really are morality plays when you think about it. Like the idea of smoking to prevent radioactive damage in the future. It’s almost mind-blowing to me.
“We filmed in Newfoundland for a couple of weeks and so much of that landscape lent itself to the cold and futuristic nature of the project. It was a perfect location for me to work in, especially since Orsow was victim of such a lonely environment,” Henriksen added.
Henriksen has had the good fortune throughout his almost 40-year-career to have kept some amazing company; especially director James Cameron who has been a long-time friend and force in Henriksen’s career. It’s been a long-reported story that Cameron even created his Terminator film with Henriksen in mind- however, it turns out that the story has gotten twisted throughout the years.
“Jim had the idea for Terminator but really needed someone else to help him sell the script,” Henriksen clarified. “It’s true he used my face for a painting he rendered of the Terminator character but I was never going to be the Terminator.”
Henriksen added, “When it was time for Jim to go to his meeting to pitch the film, he asked me to dress up in jeans and a jacket with sunglasses and kick the door open on the meeting and just stand there to show them what this character could be, but I was never under consideration for that role.”
One role that was written specifically for Henriksen was Frank Black, the lead character on the Chris Carter penned TV Show “Millennium”. “Millennium” ran on FOX from 1996-1999 and explored the dark worlds of serial killers and apocalyptic conspiracies leading up to the year 2000.
“‘Millennium’ was definitely a show before its time,” he commented. “I always thought it was funny that grown men would come up to me on the street and tell me how much that show actually scared them.
“I never even watched the show until the DVD box sets came out. I knew that some of the episodes we did on “Millennium” were brilliant but I never realized just how much until I sat down and watched them for myself. We made some big strides in doing exceptional work for network television. I am still so proud of everything that show was,”
While not a solid reality, the possibility of a “Millennium” film is still feasible, “I really think a movie would wield a lot of power. I know it’s something that fans and all of us who worked on the show would really love to do because of the possibilities about getting that story up on the big screen. On TV, everything is so sanitized so getting to do Frank’s story on the big screen would be amazing for me. And I know it’s something Chris (Carter) has always wanted to do.”
In the recent wave of remakes that has hit the horror industry, one title has been through the rumor mill over the last several years is Kathryn Bigelow’s vampire cult classic Near Dark. In the original Near Dark, Henriksen played Jesse, the ruthless leader of a band of vampire transients and the man has very strong convictions on what worked about the original and what should happen if there is a new film.
“The minute I heard about them doing something new with Near Dark, I called up Bill (Paxton- who also stars in the film) and we talked about how the first thing these people should be doing is talking to us,” he explained,. “I personally think that if they are going to go back to this story, they should do a prequel on the family to see all of their exploits before the original film.”
Henriksen added, “The reason the original Near Dark worked was because of Kathryn’s talent. She is a painter so what she did on that film with the color palette and the style was so subtle that it would be hard to do what she did in 1987 any justice. That film just worked on every level.”
Although Henriksen got his start in the theaters of New York, he knows that he found his home being in front of the camera. “I love the intimacy of film- when you’re on a movie screen like that, you are allowing people to be up close to your character. Theatre taught me how to act but movies taught me about the adventure of life,”
Unlike most actors, Lance appreciates the wide variety of character he’s had a chance to play over the years, “I’ve been lucky throughout my long career that I’ve really enjoyed running the gamut of film genres- westerns, horror, dramas, sci-fi films, you name it. My life has really been one big beautiful wave and I can’t wait to see where it takes me next.”
Screamers: The Hunting is currently available on DVD; hit the links below to get one for yourself!.
Got news? Click here to submit it!
Discuss your favorite Lance role in the Dread Central forums!