Today on the show we have legendary actor Lance Henriksen. I had the pleasure of work with Lance on my film Red Princess Blues: Genesis and if was a surreal experience.
Lance has been in over 300 films through-out his remarkable career.
He’s mentored Tarzan, Evel Knievel and the Antichrist, and fought Terminators, Aliens, Predators, Pumpkinhead, Pinhead, Bigfoot, Superman, the Autobots, Mr. T, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal.
He’s worked with directors James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, Kathryn Bigelow, Sidney Lumet, Francois Truffaut, John Huston, Walter Hill, David Fincher, John Woo, Jim Jarmusch and Sam Raimi, but this is just skimming the surface.
An intense, versatile actor as adept at playing clean-cut FBI agents as he is psychotic motorcycle-gang leaders, who can go from portraying soulless, murderous vampires to burned-out, world-weary homicide detectives, Lance Henriksen has starred in a variety of films that have allowed him to stretch his talents just about as far as an actor could possibly hope.
He played Awful Knoffel in the TNT original movie EVIL KNIEVEL, directed by John Badham and executive produced by Mel Gibson. Henriksen portrayed Awful Knoffel in this project based on the life of the famed daredevil, played by George Eads. Henriksen starred for three seasons (1996-1999) on Millennium, Fox-TV’s critically acclaimed series created by Chris Carter (The X-Files).
His performance as Frank Black, a retired FBI agent who has the ability to get inside the minds of killers, landed him three consecutive Golden Globe nominations for “Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Drama Series” and a People’s Choice Award nomination for “Favorite New TV Male Star.”
Henriksen was born in New York City. His mother, Margueritte, was a waitress, dance instructor, and model. His father, James Marin Henriksen, who was from Tønsberg, Norway, was a boxer and merchant sailor.
Henriksen studied at the Actors Studio and began his career off-Broadway in Eugene O’Neill’s Three Plays of the Sea. One of his first film appearances was as an FBI agent in Sidney Lumet’s DOG DAY AFTERNOON, followed by parts in Lumet’s NETWORK and PRINCE OF THE CITY.
He then appeared in Steven Spielberg’s CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND with Richard Dreyfuss and François Truffaut, DAMIEN: OMEN II and in Philip Kaufman’s THE RIGHT STUFF, in which he played Mercury astronaut Capt. Wally Schirra.
James Cameron cast Henriksen in his first directorial effort, PIRANHA II: THE SPAWNING, then used him again in THE TERMINATOR and as the android Bishop in the sci-fi classic ALIENS. Sam Raimi cast Henriksen as an outrageously garbed gunfighter in his quirky western THE QUICK AND THE DEAD.
Henriksen has also appeared in what has developed into a cult classic: Kathryn Bigelow’s NEAR DARK, in which he plays the head of a clan of murderous redneck vampires. He was nominated for a Golden Satellite Award for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in the TNT original film THE DAY LINCOLN WAS SHOT.
In addition to his abilities as an actor, Henriksen is an accomplished painter and potter. His talent as a ceramist has enabled him to create some of the most unusual ceramic artworks available on the art market today.
His new film is called Alpha Rift.
Nolan Parthmore was just a regular guy, hanging with friends, working his game store, flirting with his co-worker, then one day, destiny came calling. A courier delivers a mysterious antique helmet with no note or description. When Nolan puts it on, his whole world changes. The helmet comes to life and calls out to an evil demon, Lord Dragsmere, who was imprisoned by Nolan’s deceased father.
Nolan soon discovers he is next in the bloodline, heir to The Nobleman, destined to become a hero whether he wants to be or not. Since the Dark Ages, the Noblemen have been guardians against the 13 Devil’s Apostles: dark forces escaped from hell and let loose upon on earth. Generations later, it’s the heirs of these original knights that possess the power to open the Alpha Rift:the only defense against these supernatural foes.
Enjoy my conversation with Lance Henriksen.
Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome to the show, Lance Henriksen Lance, how are you my friend?
Lance Henriksen 0:16
I'm good, Alex. Very good. I remember your name we've worked before.
Alex Ferrari 0:22
Yes, we have we have worked before we worked years ago on my on my short film Red Princess Blues Genesis, I reached out to your people and you were kind enough to bless our project with your voice, your remarkable voice. And I never forgot it. I was still just Fresh Off the Boat maybe a couple years in LA. And it was such a thrill to to work with with you and and
Lance Henriksen 0:47
Alex Ferrari 0:49
Lance Henriksen 0:50
When you first got to LA where you're staying at the Wilcox hotel.
Alex Ferrari 0:54
I was lucky enough to get an apartment in North Hollywood,
Lance Henriksen 0:57
Split side hotel. You leave your brands on the ceiling.
Alex Ferrari 1:04
What's those? What are those apartments by Warner Brothers that everybody used to go live live at when you first got there?
Lance Henriksen 1:10
Yeah, I don't remember
Alex Ferrari 1:11
I don't remember the name of it. But there's that. Yeah. So
Lance Henriksen 1:16
First tell I couldn't afford.
Alex Ferrari 1:19
So so. So tell me, how did you get started in this business man? You've been around for a few years.
Lance Henriksen 1:28
New York. Okay. Yeah, I already had done theater in New York and stuff. And I did one movie, you know, and I liked it. So I thought I'm gonna get into and duke it out, you know, see what happens.
Alex Ferrari 1:43
And then and then you arrive in LA and LA back at those years were a little different than LA nowadays. Not as not as much competition.
Lance Henriksen 1:53
Well, there's a weird thing. I got a job as a desk clerk in a retirement home called, I forget the name of it, but was all real people, you know, like, like this kind of old people. And they were always coming up to the desk saying, Did I get any cards or pictures or anything from my kids? And it was pathetic. It really was. So I started writing them cards and putting boxes. You know, like, hi, you know, cuz I get there. I get the name of their kids. Who never called them nobody. Yeah, so that was a good setting of beginning for what it feels like to be in the business.
Alex Ferrari 2:43
No one calls you no one calls you that's for sure.
Lance Henriksen 2:45
My phone was as useless as you get.
Alex Ferrari 2:50
So when you so when you first started out, you know, one of your first projects was a little film called Dog Day Afternoon. With a little with a little director. Yeah, with a little direct Mr. Mr. Sidney Lumet what was it like? Being on that set that energy on that set seem to be
Lance Henriksen 3:07
I knew those people. I knew them all. Yeah, just studio people from New York. Sidney Lumet said I don't know what you're doing. But keep doing it. That's the only direction I got from him.
Alex Ferrari 3:23
Really? That was it. Just like just keep doing what you're doing. Now is the energy on that set was it seems so like, kinetic was it like that behind the scenes as well?
Lance Henriksen 3:36
Oh, yeah. Uh, we were real. You know, everybody was real. You know, John Casals was one of the great guys in the world. And yeah, and, and I remember I had to shoot him. And we said, John said to me, Look, let's, let's rehearse it because you don't know what's going to happen. So I turned to him, and I say, Sal, keep the gun pointed out, because you might hit a bump, you know, something will go off and, and we started laughing. We were in hysterics laughing. And I thought, Oh, it's a good thing. We did this, because when we get to the airport, you know, we're gonna be screwed if we do this, right. Laugh. I mean, we laugh for an hour while they were setting the commerce up on the hood and all over the view. And it was because I really liked them. And it's so absurd that I'm going to shoot them. I mean, it was like, and he got the same feeling. So it was like, we were go for I mean, really laughing for an hour.
Alex Ferrari 4:51
Wow. Because it seems like almost a documentary. It literally almost looked like a documentary.
Lance Henriksen 4:59
Yeah, it was And oddly enough, a lot of the guys that were actually involved in that they they were there on the street, you know, with all the extras. So weird for them.
Alex Ferrari 5:14
Oh god reliving that from a different perspective. Yeah, totally. So then, so then you've made a few other films and you you run across. Another, you have the list of directors you work with is ridiculous. But the next one on the list is Mr. Steven Spielberg, and you're working on Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Is that the biggest budget at that point in your career that you worked on?
Lance Henriksen 5:38
I never saw anything like it. We flew all the way to, you know, India, to run up that mountain and have 1000. I think there were 5,000 extras there that day, where we're saying, Where did it come from? What did you see? And they all went, they all pointed up, you know? And suddenly a rabbit ran across the field with all these experts. And they chased it. So you got 10,000 extras chasing a rabbit was the funniest site in the world, man.
Alex Ferrari 6:26
And when you're working in so when you're working with Spielberg, I mean, that's, uh, he's, he's, he's fresh off of jaws. So he's the biggest director on the planet at that moment in time because he created the blockbuster. What was it like working with Steven at that time in his career?
Lance Henriksen 6:42
Well, he was a kid. Yeah. He was a kid. I went up to him and I said, Look, I want to get one of these little monsters, you know, aliens. And I want to throw my coat over and go into the porta potty and just hold him so we got proof. That was one of the ship takes off. They're gone. And he's any look at me like, I don't know, like, I just fell into his birthday cake. And he looked at me anyway. That's, that's a different movie. Okay, I got it. Okay.
Alex Ferrari 7:20
I'm good. Steven. Thank you. Thank you very much. Was there anything that oh, you also you also got to work with Truffaut on that he wasn't he an actor in that correct.
Lance Henriksen 7:31
Alex Ferrari 7:32
Yeah, François, right. Yeah. Did you work with him? Did you interact with Truffaut ?
Lance Henriksen 7:36
Oh, he was with him every day.
Alex Ferrari 7:38
What was it? I mean, I got I've never spoken to anyone who actually knew Mr. Truffaut. What was it like what was he like as a as a because he was acting and then not directing?
Lance Henriksen 7:48
I mean, the guy look, I was on that movie for six months. So yeah, getting paid scale. You know, it was okay. Yeah, sure. The truck while I was there, I learned to fly. Because we were on an airport. You know, it was a big airport hangar, right. And I'd get up in the morning at four in the morning, and I'd go do my flying lessons. And then I would land at eight and walk into the set. So I felt like, look at me, I just landed. But anyway, they stopped me when I wanted to skydive. They sent him one of the ladies out there said you can't do it. So
Alex Ferrari 8:37
Please, yeah, now I'll put it after production. Do it all you like, after production you could do it all you like, but not while we're doing it production.
Lance Henriksen 8:45
François Truffaut this is his story. He did a movie called 400 blows. Sure. So did yours in Germany did Fahrenheit 451 All of this stuff. And I never mentioned 400 blows only because it was two. When I saw it. I was a kid. You know, younger kid. And I didn't want to talk about that. I talked about Jules and Jim I talked about Fahrenheit 451 and all of that. And he at the end of the movie. Well, he got pissed at me, first of all, for always going on standing on the set. He said no, you got to read a book. You got to do something else. You can't be in a hangar watching a movie being made. And I said yeah, but I never saw anything like this. So anyway, he gave me a book by Joshua Logan. And he said I'm going to quiz you on it. That's the kind of guy as you know. And I said okay, and I only read the Marlon Brando chapter from tea house. Niaga small. And it said Josh Logan said This is like walking through a maze with me but I'm filling you in on all the little truths. But anyway said the first two Tech's he did with random one, Brando gave it everything in that tech. And the second take that Brando did with him. He did nothing. And you said the biggest mistake I ever made was choosing second date. That is the truth. Whoa, I got that piece of information.
Alex Ferrari 10:39
That's amazing. It's amazing. So I think
Lance Henriksen 10:45
Kindest guy in the world. Yeah. And if you were a restaurant, all the women in the restaurant would like zero and on him. He had that energy. I don't know, French dress good.
Alex Ferrari 11:01
There was that vibe, that vibe. There's a thing that's it's you can't really, when you've got it, you got it. And you know,
Lance Henriksen 11:07
When you got it, you don't have to push. You had a lot of girlfriends along the way. I got to learn from you tell me how to do that.
Alex Ferrari 11:19
So there's so one of the films that I see. I saw you and I, you know, I remember you vividly and it was a terminator. And there has been so many mythical stories. It's almost folklore on how that movie was made. And you know it Jim did this, Jim do that. How did what was it like from your sight from your perspective working on that film? And what are the truths behind?
Lance Henriksen 11:48
He said to me go in to Emmerdale. You know, do the Terminator
Alex Ferrari 11:54
Because you were originally going to be the Terminator.
Lance Henriksen 11:58
I blew it though. Because Jim said go in 15 minutes before me. And I said, okay, and then I'll leave. You know, I'll just give a shout out, shake him up. And so I kept the door open am Dells office. And, and the Secretary was sitting there, grabbed her typewriter and pulled it off into her lap. She got shook, because I had cuts and silver teeth. And then I went into handhelds office. And I soon just stared at him for like, five minutes. And then Jim arrived and I left. You know, I didn't even I didn't even think I was going to do Terminator. I mean, I would have played him more like, like a spider, a real dangerous spider. Right, which they're fun. He was like a bulldozer. So that was fine. Yeah, I mean, Winfield and I, Paul Winfield. We had a great relationship. We made each other fucking crack up all the time. So it was what was great about it. It was Gail Bell. Her was producing it, I think. And it was like, Jim was coming out of the chute, you could tell he just just had a rhythm about him. And he always does. He knows. He's like an isolated animal of some kind. That is just so focused, you know, after we did aliens, and it was one of the most dynamic directors I've ever worked with ever.
Alex Ferrari 13:43
But you also, but you also worked with him on Pirana to the spawning, as well. Right? Is that where you met him?
Lance Henriksen 13:49
We don't talk about that. No, no, we don't it's just like awful.
Alex Ferrari 14:00
What Jim but Jim says it is the best flying Pirana movie ever made.
Lance Henriksen 14:09
Yeah, it was so excited because I had to buy my wardrobe. Off the waiter. Okay, because I had no wardrobe. Right? So I gave the guy 75 bucks for his pants and a shirt. Because I'm playing a harbor cop. It had a blue stripe. But I got over that really quick.
Alex Ferrari 14:38
So when you do you imagine you've met Jim on that show, right?
Lance Henriksen 14:42
Alex Ferrari 14:45
I'm sorry. That's the best thing about the movies.
Lance Henriksen 14:49
But even I saw what he could do, you know? Yeah, it's up and I was buying my suit off a waiter. He was up in his room making rubber fish cuz they didn't have enough of them you know all kinds of stuff. I mean it was I put the harbor boat up on the pier because they wouldn't even be down there let me learn how to drive it. Alright so by x i come weapon and he said come with and then okay I whipped in and put it right up on the pier
Alex Ferrari 15:24
Ohh different times different times. So when you're when you're working on the Terminator because that was a fairly low budget film I think it was if I if that if I know the budget was I think anywhere between five to 7 million or something
Lance Henriksen 15:39
You couldn't prove it by me that it was love budget it was but right. I don't know what the budget was. Right. But it was all his friends all the talented people involved in it. You know, is really, once once the train leaves the station, it doesn't stop. Right. And that's no matter what the budget,
Alex Ferrari 16:03
Right! Because if you're going you're going into whoever
Lance Henriksen 16:07
They would go, Yeah, you're in.
Alex Ferrari 16:10
So when you saw Arnold show up as the Terminator for the first time and you saw him What did you what was your first reaction?
Lance Henriksen 16:18
He was he was sitting on the on the steps of his honey wagon. Okay. Trailer, he got a Honeywell Sure will. Because the budget didn't allow, you know, a Tiffany anyway. But anyway, he was sitting there smoking a cigar and a and he was really happy. He was amazingly happy. Just like greeting everybody and making jokes and he was happy. And I was grateful for that
Alex Ferrari 16:58
He is. And and at that time of his life. He was really big. I mean, he was he was still
Lance Henriksen 17:04
He got that all going, you know.
Alex Ferrari 17:07
Yeah. And he was did you see? Did you see the same thing in Jim that you did sign Arnold when you saw him? You're like, Oh, this guy's gonna be a star. Did you see that? When you were on the set?
Lance Henriksen 17:17
I know how I saw how Jim was treating Jim was treating him. Like I don't know. He was telling him everything that he needed. Jim would tell him. I need you to be quiet and just look up. Walked out way. You know, I mean, he knew what he wanted from Arnold. It's good. It wasn't you know, wasn't the later. Be careful.
Alex Ferrari 17:51
Right. Yeah, he barely had any dialogue on the first one. Then he opened up in the second one a bit.
Lance Henriksen 17:58
Yeah, yeah. Those lines Get Cover!.
Alex Ferrari 18:05
Get down! Now one of your best known characters, his Bishop in Aliens, which you brought such humanity to that Android. It is remarkable.
Lance Henriksen 18:28
It was really on purpose. I hadn't I had made a decision that before I even got to England, you know, that there was what what is Android is he say, a protecting devices, a tech take care of humans to devices is also as vulnerable as during Apartheid a black child, you know, who wouldn't even dream of making any motions or noise? Because they're afraid of getting snuffed out? You know, I mean, anyway, a lot of elements like that work. I wouldn't dream of hurting anybody or anything. You know, I mean, it was there was the, the innocence of that, you know, so. And I got the role, but Jim said, in England, if you if you've got a if there's somebody in England, it's better. Jim told me, he said I would have given him the part but what you brought to the table was just exactly was good, you know, so grateful for that. Now, you learn shit to do with the knives and stuff because he told me, he called me before I went to London said Remember when we used to do the knife thing? And I said, Yeah, I can get good at it. When I got to England, I had all 29 Because I know it, he might pick a different, and I had to work with all of them. Sure. So I got there. I was good at it all. But anyway, they almost wouldn't let me in the country. Because the guy, they saw it on the scanner that I had knives and said, step away from your bags. Not let me in. Yeah. All right. Pretty active around that time.
Alex Ferrari 20:33
Sure, sure. And that was 86' 85'. So that's not even post 911 For God's sakes. Can you imagine? It must have been on edge.
Lance Henriksen 20:42
Alex Ferrari 20:45
Now is there's so many, you know, stories of the English crew and Jim and Gail having such a hard time making that movie because they were basically fighting the crew and they didn't really believe in Jim and no one had seen Terminator yet.
Lance Henriksen 21:03
Yet. They were given them. They were dragging their feet, they were taking tea breaks every five minutes, they go to the bar that was at Pinewood and they had lunch near come back and slowed down again. You know, I mean, it was, those guys were all under contract. So they didn't have anybody, but they, despite all of that personality stuff going on. They called him Grizzly Adams, Jim, because you have grown a little beard. And who the hell was he to come in after Ridley Scott. You know, who is a British are better, you know, was their whole thing. And and it was like, for us. It banded us together even more. The only time it wasn't Bishop was one of one of the ad's British Hadees pushed me on the chest. You know, say hey said stop. Push me. I said you do that again. I'm gonna kick your ass. I meant Sure so who? I'll never forget his face when I did that. He got shut up man, you don't fucking push me.
Alex Ferrari 22:22
New York In New York maybe?
Lance Henriksen 22:28
Alex Ferrari 22:29
And I'm assuming and I'm assuming having a
Lance Henriksen 22:33
Days, weeks and months of working together all of us. We all know each other and believed in each other. You know, that's, that's a different feeling. than just going we're gonna leave a bunch of garbage in pull our trailer out of here and we're gonna go home. We didn't do that we were there to do it. Really do. And those guys by the way. The guys on contract mind would. There was some of the best makers of props and things and sets. They were unbelievably good. If they just welcomed us, we would have been fine. But so we went through about a month a bullshit. And then I guess I don't know the real story behind it. But Gail was saying we'll just get out we'll leave here and go do it somewhere else. You know, you're not gonna screw up his movie. I mean, and they turned around turned around completely.
Alex Ferrari 23:38
Really? Yeah. Yeah, because I can imagine that having you know, in 1986 A female producer on top of it all was it was a shock because you generally didn't have female promoters.
Lance Henriksen 23:52
She's 5'5" you know she's but tough. Oh, yeah. She's smart. I love her.
Alex Ferrari 24:02
And she and and honestly, many people say this and I say it as well as aliens is essentially a masterpiece in in the genre there really it really holds up.
Lance Henriksen 24:13
It is it holds up.
Alex Ferrari 24:14
You can watch that today. You can still watch that today. And it's not you don't you don't see the date. There's no date.
Lance Henriksen 24:21
Oh, we get a lot more attention than I am. Now.
Alex Ferrari 24:24
Oh, okay. Now you also, right, exactly. Now that you also worked on another classic film called near dark with with Miss Kathryn Bigelow. I remember I was working in a video store in the 80s late 80s Oh yeah, I work I worked in a video store for five years. All I saw everything from 86 movies from 86 to like 93 I pretty much watched everything Because anything that came out, I watched it because it was I was in a video store, I was a kid in high school didn't have much social life. So that's all I did was just watch three, four movies a day, constantly. So I remember watching your dark, I was just like, Oh, my God, this is remarkable. And I have to say, Kathryn Bigelow is easily one of the best action directors of her generation, and she doesn't get the credit that she deserves, in my opinion. I mean, she won the Oscar obviously, for for, for her lock on everything. But as an action director, Mike got sheet. She holds her own with anybody.
Lance Henriksen 25:32
Anybody believe me
Alex Ferrari 25:37
What was it like working on that?
Lance Henriksen 25:39
You know, she would do things incredible. Like, we had to, we had to deal with sunlight. So we're, we improvised a whole rehearsal of how do you enter a room that's brightly lit with Windows and stuff? So we would improvise all the things and we actually use them in the movie. I mean, we, our instincts were already there. Because we rehearsed. You know, spraying the windows, put tin foils on the windows, like Elvis used to do in Vegas. And then, um, we would improvise even dialogue where we had we had these characters down so well, no matter what you threw out those. We would, we would, Billy Paxton was brilliant. At work he did, and all of us felt we were those people. The day we finished shooting, we're standing on a road in Arizona. And we suddenly said, we should start the prequel right now. Because we were ready. We liked these characters.
Alex Ferrari 26:56
And there was never seek and there was never sequel or prequel. And it's such a sad,
Lance Henriksen 27:01
Went belly up. So our first ad was as big as this. You know? And so it just lost. It was lost boys doing rock and roll vampires. It was like, come on, but they had full page ads.
Alex Ferrari 27:21
So yeah, you were the cult, the cult film.
Lance Henriksen 27:26
Poor step kid.
Alex Ferrari 27:28
But I mean, anyone listening, if you have not seen near dark is arguably one of the best vampire films ever made it no question.
Lance Henriksen 27:35
Much fun, man. We pick your own wardrobes, right? They, you know, they had some we had a great wardrobe guy. And I said, we had to write our own bios, like, how did we get turned? Where did we come from? We had to ride a mile. And mine was that that I was sailing on an iron clad for the south during the Civil War. And we got slaughtered by it by you know, cannons from the shore and stuff. But we kept drifting into the marshes at night. And we started to get fed on the lot of vampires feeding on the dying man. And I got I got a turn because my chest was blown open and, and I was steaming into the night air. And it stood over man, and instead of killing me and feeding on me and turn me so I mean, I have my own figured out. That's why I had a rebel flag inside my code and my hair had a pigtail on a dipped in tar, like Stiller's did back in those days. You know, we just created our own our own ambience and we picked each other up along the way. That's what if we had done a what he call it, you know, a prequel, he would see all those people got together. They're different. The 20s 1800s You know,
Alex Ferrari 29:22
That wouldn't have been that would have been amazing. You could have done you could have done an anreise thing where you go through all history kind of figure
Lance Henriksen 29:32
Have dinner with her. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 29:34
What does she love the film? Does she like the film?
Lance Henriksen 29:39
Alex Ferrari 29:44
Lance Henriksen 29:47
You know after I did the movie.
Alex Ferrari 29:50
Now you you've you've worked with so many directors is there. I'm not going to ask you if you have a favorite director but is there a way that that you like to be directed and and then did you connect with a certain director in a way from like, as a collaborator in a way that just stepped stands out throughout your career?
Lance Henriksen 30:11
Yeah. I met with so many good ones, you know, I mean, it's there, there is an automatic kind of understanding a member, a member, certainly, Sydney Limmat. Love New York actors, he would hire you and say, Look, this, this part only lasts a week, but I'm going to give you a run on the show, because you wanted to, say, get an apartment, you didn't know. It was like, he is the kindest man. And it was great to be around him because he was so knowledgeable. You know, standing on the set with the best actors in New York. All around you, and you're watching these guys work. And I was young. You know, I was 30. So it was like, yeah, it was my, my experience. I could never single out one. There are parts of all of them that I'll never forget. You know, and they influence me about freedom and about, you know, how to how to make something that it's even beyond your wildest dream by just getting on board and going with it. Get off these guys. They they they're not Intimidators they're nice. They're nice people. You know, most that especially in that era, the 80s and the 90s.
Alex Ferrari 31:46
Did you is your Is there a way that you'd like to be directed as an actor? Because I know every actor has a different way. Some people want more attention.
Lance Henriksen 31:56
Yeah, everything happens in rehearsal. You know, when you're when you're approaching when you're no part, I did a movie with Viggo Mortensen, who was he was probably one of the kindest, smartest people I've ever worked with, is he wrote it, directed it Zenna he produced it. I mean, did the music for it, and edited cheeses and never complain the minute we just was so busy trying to form those that relationship and those relationships. It was the greatest experience I've ever had. I mean, it's like, but that's for a very different reasons. So we're the only mechanical thing in it. I mean, the rest is, was shot beautifully and all of that. But by the time we started, we knew what we were going to do.
Alex Ferrari 33:00
What advice would you give a young filmmaker or film directors in general, on directing actors, because I find that they focus so much on the lenses and the gear and the how, look how many K's we have, but they don't focus on.
Lance Henriksen 33:16
Everybody's at them to get information. Right. Right. That's part of the deal. You know, the camera guys, they it's all about he is the core focus of it is getting less. So there are more producers, businessman with they know the answers to everything. Right? Like politicians talk out of both sides of their mouth and out there. And everything. Where the director is responsible. I mean, he's responsible for the approach that there's so many levels. But it's also they've got a bunch of ravens trying to pick their eyeballs out, you know, which are the producers?
Alex Ferrari 34:06
Right? Or the studio execs or something along those lines. Yeah. But is there a way that you would recommend directors working or approaching actors and how they work?
Lance Henriksen 34:17
Well, yeah, I mean, just, I think the only answer is just to be heard. And I think it's up to the actors not to prove, you know, not to do it at an inappropriate time. We've got a guy jump in and jump off the hook onto an airbag and you're talking about what do you think I jump in my car and try to save him? What do I do? You know, I mean, why don't you just shut up and go watch, you know, right now.
Alex Ferrari 34:48
Is it. Is it true? And I want out because I always tell people there's my experience as a director, that actors sometimes if they don't feel safe on set, they will test The director to see if they feel if there's if this is a safe space. And if it's not, they might go rogue, they might protect themselves and they might shut down and they're like, look, I'm here. I got to do what I got to do. But this is obviously I'm not getting the support I need. Do you find that actors do test director sometimes just to see where they're at? in general?
Lance Henriksen 35:20
I don't know what neurosis an actor might bring with him. Sure. I don't have any, any way. I know what I do. Okay. I mean, I, I've done now it looks like somebody said the other day that I've done 300 movies. Well, that's a shocker. Because that's, that's a lot of days, weeks, months and years on a set. Yeah. One thing. I guess one of my favorite. Jim Jarmusch is probably one of the kindest, illuminated humans that I've ever worked with. I remember getting a part in for I forget the name of the movie. And I walked in, and I said, Jim, look, I know, I might not get the part because of what I'm going to say. But, but I don't think anything you wrote for this character that I'm going to play has anything to do with, with acting or whatever it is, you know, I mean, I can improvise everything through this whole movie. And make it work as a Western, you know, with Johnny Depp. And you know, yeah,
Alex Ferrari 36:41
Dead man it was called dead man.
Lance Henriksen 36:45
Yeah, I'm talking so much that I'm forgetting. No, but when I'm talking, I don't think And fair enough. So But anyway, that's what I did in that movie. I improvised the whole role. Wow. Yeah, I remember walking, I had to kill this kid who? This black kid who's, he's got knives. And he's a nasty kind of guide. And he insults me. And I remember walking into a Native American post, and looking at all the stuff, you know, the beautiful jewelry and all that. But there was a brick. And and I said to the guy and there was a car painted on the brick. I said, what is that? And he goes, it's Navajo mentor. And as a wife, okay. When I got on the set, and I shot that kid, he said, he said, he's only my partner said he's only a kid. He's just a kid. And I said, Well, isn't Melbourne on mud toy now? How? Wow. It's like I go through a period of gathering. Unconscious gathering was something that intrigues me. I, I know I'm going to do this move beyond seeing it through the eyes of the character. So so that was a great experience because he just let me fly. That must have been I was an actor anymore. You were being just being
Alex Ferrari 38:34
Yeah, that's amazing. And you also worked on one of my favorite Westerns of all time, the quick and the dead. Quick in the dead. I love clicking a dead.
Lance Henriksen 38:46
Yeah, no, that was a trip. The crew made a they made a thing where they said you cannot kill ace. Mm hmm.
Alex Ferrari 39:01
You were like you were one of the look in that cast was ridiculous. I mean, from Russell Crowe as like a supporting actor. Sharon Stone and Leonardo DiCaprio in you and Sam Raimi is directing and you're just like, a you stood at Jesus. And you stood out like your character was so wonderfully constructed. You played so beautifully. And you're right, like when you when spoiler alert. When you have to end your your scene. I was pissed. I'm like, no,
Lance Henriksen 39:43
No, no. Greet him like that. Right before I went on, I got that little thing with the moustache one thing I didn't know if I was going to use it. But then as Jean was talking me I was going Yeah, Yeah, I shot one guy one, right.
Alex Ferrari 40:05
And how was Sam? How was Sam to work with because I've heard so many wonderful stories about Sam Raimi and as a director working with actors.
Lance Henriksen 40:13
Oh, he was, he was very young, you know, and he was he was so excited about having any camera he wanted anything you wanted. You know, he was he was like, I remember I said, look, look at this wardrobe. I got embroidery all over it. And I said, I, I look like a showman. You know, and so, I went with a buddy of mine, who's Rex Rossi, who was one of the great ropers you know, one of those guys and he, in fact, he was I've wanted him to be my daughter's godfather. And he did, he said, but anyway, I've said, Rex, the guy's a showman, I got to have some way of shooting the card out of this girl's hand and making it a showman, you know? So we started working on and we came up with that flip off the horse, where I just want to turn sideways, flipped off and shot her into the belly. And I showed that to Sam before we did it. And he went, oh, oh, that's in the movie. He was like, yes, that's in the movie. We did it.
Alex Ferrari 41:32
That's that's the thing. Like, I guess that was I think that was probably the first time he was given a real budget and it was a big but I mean, it was a studio project. And he and he had like I could only imagine like having every toy at your disposal with this insane cast
Lance Henriksen 41:49
They set everything up. That was that was one of the great sets.
Alex Ferrari 41:54
Oh, was. It was it was absolutely beautiful. And you also got to work with another director and legendary director, Mr. John Woo. On
Lance Henriksen 42:07
Favorite John was scared because he thought I was going off the deep end, right? Characters so fucking crazy, man. I know. They'll with John. I'm still friends with him. He sent me champagne. I send him pottery, you know? But he's, he's so kind, kind hearted man. He just and he does the most violent films. He's probably getting back at his goats, you know, whatever they are.
Alex Ferrari 42:42
Yeah. And so for everyone listening the movie that that Lance and John worked on was hard target, which was a John Claude Van Damme vehicle back in the 90s. And as Lance's head is twisting left and right as I said this name. But
Lance Henriksen 43:02
Emma's, actually, he's a good guy, and he's very talented. Physically. Sure. Know what I mean? Oh, yeah. You know, he identified seeing when we kicked me in the face. He did a spinning hit. And it just barely touched me. He's so control. Yeah. Made me relax a lot more.
Alex Ferrari 43:25
Yeah, cuz I mean, and this was the first was that what was that the first John Woo American film was a broken arrow. I don't remember if it was that one or broken arrow. I think it might have been the first time he came over from Hong Kong. Yeah, cuz it was I mean, you look at some of these editing. Yeah.
Lance Henriksen 43:45
He was a universal. Yeah, it was universally. One of the producers from the tower would come down and go. How's it going, John? Oh, that scene? What if you cut it that way? And then he'd leave. He would leave. And then another one would come down. He said all I want to do is get out of here. They're not leaving me alone. Keep coming. juggles.
Alex Ferrari 44:19
Now oh, by the way, I have to tell you one of my favorite films I've seen of yours. Which is not one of your better, like best known films, but it impacted me because I saw it on a date. I took my date to see this film in the theater. Yes. And we both loved it. Stone Cold. Oh, Brian Bosworth Brian. Both were stars and you are the main villain as a biker gang. I never forgot that movie. I must have watched that movie a dozen times when I was at video store. I was just he played that part so beautifully. Thank you.
I was a bit fun.
Lance Henriksen 44:56
Changes car. You know what I, again, I do better work when I improvise. Because we had a script the guy, the guy. What happened on that movie was chains was always talking biblical talk literally right out of the Bible, or in the movie, but but in the script, and he got fired. His first dailies came in, I wasn't in any of those scenes, but they saw them and fired him and brought a guy who was really good. Craig Baxley. And Higley, Craig had done stunts and stunts, you know, all kinds of movies and, and Craig came in, and I met him when it came in from the airport. And I met him and I was sitting in the lobby waiting for him. When he came in, and I said, Greg, can we have a beer together or something? Let's talk about this. Because your script, you read it? It's, it's, it's really abusive shit. I mean, it was bad. You know, I don't know how he got the job. The other director, I don't even know. But But anyway. So he said, Well, what are we going to do? Because I said, the dialogue is shit, all of it. So he said, What do you want to do? And I said, Well, we'll get there. If our call time is six. I'll get there at five with, with. Let's just face football. prions was, yeah, but yeah. So and We'll improvise. We'll just improvise the whole scene. We know what it has to actually was, you know, improvise. So that's what we did.
Alex Ferrari 46:57
It worked out, really. So every every every piece of dialogue almost was completely just. Yeah. That's brilliant. That makes that that's a nice little tidbit about that. I mean, over over the course of your career, Lance. I mean, you've been on set like you just said, you've done close at 300 over 300 projects. You've been on set so many times. What was the project or the day that was that stands out in your history in your mind? As like, Man, this is really, how are we going to get out of this? Like, you feel like everything's coming crashing down around you? What was that day? And how did you get through it? How did you make it through that day?
Lance Henriksen 47:42
I try to get those. There's a whole group of movies that I've done. They're called alimony films.
Alex Ferrari 47:52
You said that to me. You said that to me when we work together.
Lance Henriksen 47:56
It's good to know that that's that's real. Yeah. A lot of actors take movies that the only one that's there, they need money, you know, blah, blah, blah. And I've done some of those that were like, oh my god, I thought you know, you. You don't want to be seen on the street when that comes out. You don't want to do, right. I only see my movies once. And then I don't look at them ever again. You know, the only one that I might have watched more than once was powder. Yeah, sugar powder.
Alex Ferrari 48:34
I love powder.
Lance Henriksen 48:35
I thought that that was a really good movie. But, you know, some other political shit happened. I didn't go to release but but you know what? You got to take the good with the bad. You really do? I mean, try to do something. I have a will that says don't give up, man. You know, just be there. Be there even for a bad situation. You know, don't don't don't run away. Because that then you turn into a runaway
Alex Ferrari 49:13
Now is there.
Lance Henriksen 49:15
You have to go with it. I would. I would like to mention some of those big only because they tried everybody tried. Sure. Yeah. And they were stricken by a lot of different things. Like look oh can happen on a sir. When you when you see this wonderful woman. She was when I met her. She was a Steadicam operator, very strong woman and wonderful and beautiful. And you know, and she gets shot on a set. That's that's the ultimate total thing. I mean, it's over. Once that happens. I mean, it's over. Right? You fix in you know It's gonna be an ugly thing for a long time. But anyway, that's how bad it can get. I've never been hurt on the side. In my 300 movies never been hurt. And I've done physical shit wherever anybody, I don't care. You know, I'm still doing it. It's like I'm not. I'll probably just drop dead quickly one day, you know? Okay, well, it's a rap.
Alex Ferrari 50:30
It's a rap. And where's Lance Lance is he's got he's got a new cast, they call he's got a new cast, they call. Now, out of all of your movies, and all the people you work with, which is the craziest story that you can share publicly?
Lance Henriksen 50:53
I did a movie called The visitor. Yeah, I was young. Yeah. It's like the the hot young guy in that movie. They just there was Glenn Ford, Shelley Winters, all these actors that we all know from the 40s. You. They were in John Hughes cheeses. All these guys and I got to talk to John. Finally, one day after we made a joke. And he said, Okay, look, I don't want to come back last. So let's do it now. He's like my hero. And I said, Okay, let's let's do it. And I'm staring at him. And he goes, you have the first lines last, so I'm sorry, John. I got my first direction from John Houston. So
Alex Ferrari 51:55
Not a bad Not bad. Not bad.
Lance Henriksen 52:00
Not a bad moment.
Alex Ferrari 52:03
Can we talk a little bit about your new film? Okay.
Lance Henriksen 52:09
The visitor? Yeah. Yeah, I did in Rome. Okay. We go to Rome. The movie turns to shit. I don't know why.
Alex Ferrari 52:20
Because Pirana wasn't Parana shot.
Lance Henriksen 52:24
No, yeah. That was an Italian producer. Yes. Yes. I've never worked in Rome again.
Alex Ferrari 52:32
But your visit, but your visit. Now, tell me about your new film Alpha drift. How did you enjoy working on that?
Lance Henriksen 52:43
I gotta tell you, I was impressed with him and took that movie. Because he started is almost like with a grain of sand. You know, he made key chains with the alphabet symbol on it. And every day, he was battling budget every day. And that's why that was done years ago. And now it's coming out. You know, I think almost three years, two or three years. But he was tenacious. He's a guy that we'll talk about. I won't give up. And then he would, he would do what good movie makers do they wangle what they want. I want a McLaren. And one of his people pull some strings. And they got a McLaren. That is the most expensive car in the world. There's some have sold for $13 million at least a million to drive it. And the owner was standing by the fucking camera shaking. Because it's so fast. If you just touched that gas, you're gonna fly down, you know, Moon, you're gone. And again, that's an example of making do as good as you can. With limited, you know, with limited choices, and you did very well with it. His location choices were were good choices because he was containing it. You know, I mean, I wanted to do it. I just felt I didn't. I didn't really understand it. When I first started the hell I was, you know, you know, it's, it's a very it's a very, almost like looking back into time. In a way. They're dragging the past into the present. And saying to a young man, you're genetically right. You are the next whatever. Why I had to respect it and do the best I could, you know, I mean, with what we had. And and it was, and it looks like he pulled it off because he got distribution. I'm really, I'm super happy for him. I really am.
Alex Ferrari 55:18
Yeah. And we'll put and we'll put links on where you guys can watch Alpha drift afterwards. It does look fantastic. It's a good fit. It's a family film. So it looks like a lot of fun.
Lance Henriksen 55:26
There isn't a real rough moment in it. Well, listen, killings, but sure, your demons so it's not. You Have you noticed how violent all the movies are like on YouTube and all these cable things?
Alex Ferrari 55:47
It makes it it makes the 80s look tame.
Lance Henriksen 55:51
Oh, yeah, it's more murders than you can imagine. Right and peak ruimin You know, where you're seeing a little bit? Not a lot, you know, there. But it's just the whole porridge. They're like remakes of movies that are still out. You can
Alex Ferrari 56:09
Look I look. When they remade point break. I was like, stop it. Is that that is a masterpiece of its time. You can't really?
Lance Henriksen 56:21
Yeah, what you can't you can't remake that. They're just going over to I think screenwriters Guild and saying, Can I read a bunch of these scripts? And they do. And then they write out a clone of that script.
Alex Ferrari 56:35
It's, it's, it's because everyone because if you know, you know this better than most that the whole town is run by fear. So you know, because it's run by fear. They're like, well, this is has an established audience that they think is going to come out but like, perfect example. Any executives listening out there? You bring a movie like point break out there who's a generation who's gonna watch Point Break my generation, the one that grew up with Point Break? Really? What are we going to run out to see Point Break? The remake? No. And then the new kids are going to be like, what's that? Oh, skydiving? Oh, that's not a big deal. But in 1990, whatever it was when it came out. No one had really seen before.
Lance Henriksen 57:17
No, you're right. Right. So it's different. Reaction, a lot of stories. Even Korean movie companies are doing their we our movies, their movies, or doesn't matter.
Alex Ferrari 57:35
But the funny thing is that the that the era that they're mining, was allowed to be creative. Where you could make a Gremlins of Goonies a Terminator, and aliens, you know, can you imagine trying to launch an aliens franchise now without the IP of aliens? But can you imagine just alien in it just wouldn't wouldn't be not not in the studio system you'd have to do in in the independent world.
Lance Henriksen 58:03
I think I think that's a great description what's going on now? Which made me feel like I never want to be a director. I have no interest at all. I'm a better supporter of a director. Alright, then, you know, of wanting to be one who 100 people a day, hitting you up for answers? Who the hell wants to live like that?
Alex Ferrari 58:31
I love it. Some people are built like that.
Lance Henriksen 58:36
But see, you maybe will break out into your dream so totally, that it will be what you want it to do. But I have no desire. I'm in a job that I shouldn't be doing.
Alex Ferrari 58:50
Right. And I have like, I've had to act a couple times in my life in front of the camera and it. No, no, thank you. It's not what I like to do. It is terrifying. I have such respect. Oh my god, it's an it even when I was playing myself on camera for a movie. It still was terrifying for me. I was like, oh my god, this is horrible. I don't want to be in front of camera ever again.
Lance Henriksen 59:17
You feel a lot better. Yeah. That's it. Okay. Looks from a different mother. But
Alex Ferrari 59:26
Now I'm going to ask you a few questions. I asked all of my guests. Lance. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?
Lance Henriksen 59:35
God, that's hard. I just did a movie. And it's called the artifice girl. And a guy named Franklin rich directed it wrote it. He's even in it. It's a three act movie. I feel I feel like it's one of the most interesting roles I've ever done. Yeah, and he wrote it, he did it. And the relationship during the shooting was this was in Florida. This is gonna come out and peep is so original and so good. I mean, I'm proud of it. I'm proud of I really am. I mean, I've done like three movies over the last year or so. And they're all different. They're all different. Sure. And I've been lucky. I mean, there's no word to touch you. But anyway, it's, I've been blessed with a career.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:40
Absolutely. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?
Lance Henriksen 1:00:48
Wait, say that again?
Alex Ferrari 1:00:49
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?
Lance Henriksen 1:00:57
I think there's a pocket in all brands where we have a fantasy world apart. And it's like a, it's probably a different organ and I was born with it. I didn't know I had it. But really what it's about, I think, is learning how to be a human, you know, a humanity. That I think when I see people be kind to somebody else. I am. I just get a lift. I get a jolt, right. We're slipping through some nasty shit right now. Excuse my friends. Sure. That we really need to see the best in people and not not fucking punish them because they made a mistake. And even in dialogue, everybody wants to punish somebody. I blame I blame politicians for all
Alex Ferrari 1:01:57
Lance Henriksen 1:01:59
I think that whole system sucks.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:03
Well, I think they've been saying that says politics were created. Yeah. Now and last question, if you can answer this three of your favorite films of all time.
Lance Henriksen 1:02:18
Oh, yeah. Well, they are the 80s films. I mean, it's certainly aliens. Your dark the ones you mentioned there. And Jim Jarmusch his movie dead man. Yeah, I love that card is total killer. But even killers have a soul?
Alex Ferrari 1:02:43
Well, that's the thing. You have played a lot of bad guys in your day. And you always bring humanity to all of those bad guys. And I think that's what makes a good bad guy is that there's something it's not if you're just twisting your your mustache literally and going Haha, I'm just bad to be bad. It's boring. You know, we're not in. It's yeah, it's not 1910 anymore. We're not on a train track anymore. Bad guys need to have depth. And you brought that to every bad guy ever seen you play
Lance Henriksen 1:03:10
Some of these action movies that are on you know, like Netflix. Really well done. Especially the Chinese ones. South Korean ones. They're in terms of action movies, these guys. And they're way ahead of us now. I mean, it's like an occasionally there's one of those movies with American. Right. Mariah good.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:44
Yeah. All right, kill him and make it a lot. Kill him a lot.
Lance Henriksen 1:03:50
A lot, a lot. And then he comes back and a lot more than that.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:55
Oh, no, I didn't it. Um, Frank Grillo, the actor Frank Grillo. He's like one of the biggest movie stars in the Chinese market because he just plays the American bad guy.
Lance Henriksen 1:04:06
You want to hear something? Yeah. Yeah. The Chinese is smart. i The Macao International Film Festival was on when falling was shown there. The one I did with Vigo they gave me best actor. Wow. shockers. Here's the shocker. I mean, I was done that I got this wonderful actress, you know, gave it to me and all this stuff. But what blew me away was China. Love this American story. They love the movie. I mean, it was and this is our story. This is a guy slipping into dementia and a son. And it's it's just I was like gave the the award away I gave it said the guy that worked with me when I was preparing for that movie. You know, he worked with me for a month and when I got the award I I look up and I got a bunch of awards. My daughter when she was five used to polish them, that's about what they're worth, you know, I mean, but I knew that if I gave it to this young young kid who was really smart and he studied acting in Ireland and stuff he's really bright. And I knew I needed to stir the pot I really need to find a way to make it real and Vigo would come over and we we'd rehearse a little bit you know and stuff. But he deserved it. I wanted him to be happy that he had that experience because the movie speaks for itself. The movies is what it is is wonderful movie less skilled our release. And Corona just shot.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:13
Lance it has been an absolute honor and pleasure talking to you my friend it I mean I can keep talking to you for at least five or six more days. Just to try to go over your career. But is
Lance Henriksen 1:06:26
Dan Lance by the way, let's let's leave it with him. Here's a guy who inevitably will make movies with the budget he needs. And you'll have this but he did this all by himself. This is like him and his friends. It's not a it's not a low budget looking film at all.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:50
No, you're talking about Alpha drift. Alpha drift
Lance Henriksen 1:06:54
Yes, kids will like it.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:57
I iIThank you for your time my friend and also thank you for your for the work that you've done as an artist throughout your career. It is it is is definitely affected my life over the years and it was again an honor working with you on my little short film all those years ago. So thank you again, my friend and continued health and success team, my friend.
Lance Henriksen 1:07:19
I'll see you down the road. There's more to come!
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