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Lance Henriksen

The Masters: Lance Henriksen
Roles
Born
May 5, 1940
Horror Movies as Actor
Mansion of the Doomed 1977
Damien: Omen II 1978
The Visitor 1979
Piranha II: The Spawning 1981
Nightmares 1983
Aliens 1986
Near Dark 1987
Pumpkinhead 1988
The Horror Show 1989
The Pit and the Pendulum 1990
Alien3 1992
Jennifer Eight 1992
Man's Best Friend 1993
Mind Ripper 1995
The Nature of the Beast 1995
Scream 3 2000
The Mangler 2 2001
The Invitation 2003
Mimic: Sentinel 2003
AVP: Alien vs. Predator 2004
Madhouse 2004
Out for Blood 2004
Hellraiser: Hellworld 2005
Abominable 2006
The Garden 2006
House at the End of the Drive 2006
Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes 2006
When a Stranger Calls 2006
In the Spider's Web 2007
Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud 2007
Alone in the Dark II 2008
Black Ops 2008
Dark Reel 2008
Dying God 2008
The Lost Tribe 2008
Nightmares in Red, White and Blue 2009
The Seamstress 2009
Blood Shot 2010
Cyrus 2010
Gingerclown 2012
House at the End of the Drive 2012
It's in the Blood 2012
Sin Reaper 3D 2012

Biography

Author
Date
05-02-2011
Comments

The Lance Henriksen Blogathon is this week (May 2-7) and we have a special entry -- a Masters bio for Henriksen written by Joseph Maddrey, the co-author of Not Bad for a Human, Henriksen's autobiography. Find out more about this awesome event at NotBadforaHuman.com

Lance Henriksen is a versatile character actor who's as adept at playing strong, nurturing, heroic characters as he is at playing ruthless psychopaths.  His secret is astute observation, empathy, and a willingness to surrender himself completely to every role he takes - whether it's in A-list drama or Z-grade schlock. 

Born in 1940, Henriksen grew up in Manhattan under the intermittent care of his family of nomadic grifters - a family he likens in some ways to the vampire clan in Near Dark  (1987).  Until he was in his late twenties, the actor says, he was aimless.  In the late 1960s, he decided to become an artist - a painter, a potter and an actor.  He belatedly taught himself to read by comparing written plays to recorded transcripts, and slowly worked his way up from local theater to a supporting role in Sidney Lumet's 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon.  After that, he never looked back.

Over the next ten years, he tackled a plethora of supporting roles in a wide variety of films and television shows, including several early forays into the horror genre.  He played a blind prisoner in Charles Band's The Eyes of Dr. Chaney (1976), a drill sergeant who mentors the Antichrist in Damien: Omen II (1978), a wealthy gigolo in the incomprehensible psi thriller Stridulum (1979), and a kindly police chief in James Cameron's directorial debut Piranha II: The Spawning (1981).   His collaboration with Cameron evolved toward a supporting role in the cult hit The Terminator (1984) and a breakthrough performance in Aliens (1986), as the humanistic android Bishop.

Bishop remains Henriksen's most personal role.  He created the character by drawing on the details and emotions of his own troubled youth.  Following the phenomenal success of the film, the actor vowed to create all of his future characters using the same internal process - which has led to a series of iconic performances revealing the actor at his most horrific as well as his most enlightened.   Alternately, Henriksen has fought the monster (in Pumpkinhead, The Horror Show, Man's Best Friend, etc.) and become the monster (in Pumpkinhead, Near Dark, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Nature of the Beast, etc.).

He often relishes the opportunity to play villains, explaining that his secret is not to play them as villains:  "When a bad guy says he'll kill you if you fuck with him, that doesn't have to mean that he would enjoy killing you.  Playing a villain can be like playing a king.  A king doesn't have to throw his weight around to prove that he's the king.  He just is the king.  He can go like this [beckons with one finger], and people come.  They come without question, because they know he's the king.  So you don't play the villainy.  It gets in the way."[1]

Playing the hero, he says, comes just as naturally: "Growing up, whenever my family had a bill they couldn't pay or got scared of anything, they would get into an argument about it.  If I went to them with any kind of problem, they would respond with anger.  They would make themselves larger than my fear, in order to diminish the importance of my feelings.  That's how poor people handle the fear of defeat.  They try to make themselves bigger than their fears.  That's how I was brought up... and that's what I do sometimes in these movies.  It's very easy for me to fight against insurmountable odds, because I never really believe that I will lose.   I can make myself bigger than the monster.  I was trained to do that as a child.[2]

Fighting monsters is what he does best as criminal profiler Frank Black, a fan-favorite role that he played for three years in the TV series "Millennium" (1996 - 1999).  In the years since, Henriksen has solidified his reputation as a reliable "heavy" in genre films, matching wits with Ghostface (in Scream 3), Predator (in AVP: Alien vs. Predator), Pinhead (in Hellraiser: Hellworld) and even Bigfoot (in The Untold, Abominable and Sasquatch Mountain).  Today he is recognized as a horror icon on par with the likes of Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Vincent Price.  Whatever the role, Henriksen's sincerity and integrity shine through.

[1] Henriksen, Lance & Joseph Maddrey.  Not Bad for a Human: The Life and Films of Lance Henriksen.  Los Angeles: Bloody Pulp Books, 2011.  pg. 84

[2]Ibid.  pg. 309

lance

An excellent actor

Lance Henriksen

While Henriksen's career in films is pretty amazing, my favourite character of his is Frank Black on the Millennium television series. Given a good project/character, Henriksen always gives an excellent performance.

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