If there’s one face people will recognise amongst the cast of unknowns in “Alien vs. Predator”, it’s Lance Henriksen. The only returning star from one of the franchises, Henriksen is best known for his work as the android Bishop in 1986’s “Aliens” and reprised a human version of the role in “Alien 3”. Other credits include such films as “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, “Scream 3”, “Near Dark” and the cult hit series “Millenium”.
In AVP, he plays Charles Weyland, a billionaire industrialist and head of Weyland Enterprises (those who know their “Alien” mythology will be familiar with the name). His character sets events in motion by organising and funding the expedition. During a break on-set in Prague late last year, Lance took time out for a smoke and a quick interview:
Question: What is like being back in the franchise?
Answer: Oh, it’s tops, this is closure. This is for keeps (laughter). I’m the guy that started the robotics that goes into the future –
Question: There is a link to Bishop…
Answer: Bishop, Charles Bishop, yeah…When Paul and I talked about this, I thought it was a great idea because this is such an adventure. What happens to Weyland while he’s doing this is that it’s his last hurrah, in a sense, so he thinks it’s just a pyramid and then we get down here and, uh, the shit hits the fan. If you like that word (laughter). But it’s an exciting adventure and that’s why he’s (Weyland) doing it. You should see some of the stuff we shot in “Antarctica” already, unbelievable stuff, it really is “real”.
Question: Are you nearing the end of your shoot?
Answer: No, I got another two months.
Question: Are you running around a lot?
Answer: Oh yeah, for sure.
Question: In the third Alien Movie, were you human or –
Answer: Well, they were leaving that open, because they weren’t sure what they were going to do with it. What I saw was that it was a more advanced model certainly. I love the idea of it being an advanced model. This is a prequel so you have a well-rounded…
Question: Even though it is prequel and it ties into the mythology, it definitely has a feel unlike any of the other alien movies.
Answer: Oh yeah, that’s for sure, it really does. Paul’s a different breed, he loves and respects those movies, but his approach is definitely his own and his affection for the whole genre– he knows them both really well.
Question: What is it like working with him, what’s his style like?
Answer: He’s a great director; he’s so full of details. He said something to me that said everything, that if he hadn’t been a director he would’ve been an engineer or a designer. Cause you can see it, he had a hand in this too (points around the chamber we were standing in), all the imagery and all of the concept, he’s way ahead, way ahead.
Question: There was one thing about Bishop; he was such a pacifist. Do you get nasty in this?
Answer: No, I’m a good guy. I love playing bad guys, but the good guys that have a good thing going on, I don’t like passive good guys – Bishop was non-violent but he wasn’t passive.
Question: Is this the first time you haven’t had to sit for a life-cast?
Answer: No, I did, I did (laughter). ALIENS was twenty years ago and when I saw that life-cast I went: “Oh no, no, no”.
Question: The merging of the two franchises, does it feel natural or does it feel forced?
Answer: It feels very natural. You know, I worked with Arnold when we did TERMINATOR and I went and saw PREDATOR, not knowing what it was; and another guy that I had worked with before designed the predator, Stan Winston, so it was almost like a family affair. I was rooting for it so much, I loved the movie, I thought it was great. But this is taking it to another dimension; remember that’s an old movie too now, so they have moved all that technology that they used in that – way ahead. This thing is like – you’re not going to believe what they’ve done. I mean, the predator vision and all that stuff is a completely, completely, different deal. It’s actually very, very, very good. I saw some of the stuff the other day…
Question: With so many of the sets being practical and having less CGI probably makes it a lot easier.
Answer: There’s not much CGI, you don’t notice it. It’s used wisely, we’ve done so much live stuff it makes it interesting, but they’re going to really put the icing on the cake with the CG.
Question: Have any of the cast or crew hit you up for any stories and things like that?
Answer: I’ve been really greeted nicely, we’ve got quite a cast, they’re nice people, we’re really getting along. We really make each other laugh a lot, you know, kill time between takes. But they’ve seen all the movies already, one of the things Paul did was give everybody all those movies to see. But this is a whole new world – this is another major step.
Question: Besides your character, are there nods to the other films?
Answer: Oh there’s a lot of nods in this, but they’re more treats though, so, Sigourney’s not in it or anything like that and the character that Lex is playing is totally different than anything that Sigourney was ever doing, you know, it’s got nothing to do with it. The only similarity is, you know, the heroine.
Question: Do you think it’s important for the continuity of the franchise to have a strong female lead?
Answer: I think so. I mean, there are guys in this too. I don’t know what the psychology is behind it, but there is something very comforting about a matriarchal figure battling. It’s like they always say about a mother lion, there’s nothing more fierce than a mother lion.
Question: Which one is worse, the alien or the predator?
Answer: Oh man. The predator is more human, but to me the aliens were always such a mixture of like a tick, or a parasite of some kind that was just indestructible but it evolved to its next way of survival. The predators, believe it or not, they’re more romantic. I know that sounds strange.
Question: They’re lovers of man.
Answer: Yeah, they’re lovers of mankind, for sure. (laughter)
Question: But they have a culture…and a sense of honor.
Answer: Right, where the aliens don’t – their code is survival, that’s it.
Question: Now you don’t need to do any research obviously, but were you at all familiar with the comics, the video games?
Answer: Never looked at ’em, no.
Question: Did you go and watch your old movies again?
Answer: No, no, no. (laughter) The first thing I did was I tried get a Mueller watch because I knew Weyland, being a billionaire, would have the finest and so I do have one, I’m using it. I was trying to structure what a billionaire is, I tried to call Bill Gates and say: “Look, let’s just have lunch” (laughter). He wouldn’t even call me back. (laughter) You know, I was just trying to see all the conditions this guy (Weyland) has, he’s very ill and he’s got a clock running, my whole thing in this is there’s a clock running and I just gotta keep going – the train has left the station and you can’t stop until it’s over. Which is a strong thing.