LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Brand New - Exclusive Interview With Actor Lance Henriksen Part 2
By James Whittington, Tuesday 21st December 2010
Lance Henriksen is one of the most respected and best loved actors working today. He has appeared in many movies, most notably Aliens, Terminator and Near Dark. The celebrated series Millennium has returned to the Horror Channel with Lance in the lead role of profiler Frank Black. This acclaimed show is quite simply stunning so we decided to catch up with this very busy man for a chat about his career so far. In this, the second part of a two part feature, Lance talks about how hard gruelling the schedule was and his hopes for the return of Frank Black.
HC: Is it true Chris Carter created the character of Frank Black specifically for you?
LH: That's what I’ve heard. I don’t know but that’s what I’ve heard.
HC: It soon gained some serious critical acclaim and a strong fan-base; did that add more pressure on you and the crew to deliver even more than you were?
LH: No. No, if anything it gave us hope for another season and also that we realised we were working 14 – 15 hours a day sometimes longer and that. We all became an American/Canadian family; we were shooting it up in Canada and we were just determined just to stay at it. I remember once a year for the three years that we did it the studio that we were shooting at had a mock theatre with the marquee and everything and three times in three years I walked out of my trailer and they had put up on the marquee “Lance Henriksen Gets Nominated For A Golden Globe” and it was like a little lift for us all whether I got it or not it was still a lift.
HC: The series was at times bleak and raw, what was the atmosphere like on set?
LH: Bleak and raw! For real. Oh yeah, man. There were some scenes where Brittany [Tiplady] who played my little girl, there was a real danger of her really getting scared. There was one with a clown in it and that clown was hideous to me I didn’t like to look at it even. It looked like insanity but Chris and everybody else on that set were protecting her, we wouldn’t let her get scared. She was a wonderful, free little actress and there was no reason to get her scared to play the scenes. All children are wonderful actors, they really are. Her family were there and they were really wonderful people and supportive of her and protective of her, so was everybody on the set really. The point is that when it gets dark like that you take it home. I remember working basically 6 days a week. On paper it says 5 but on Friday a long night into Saturday. But anyway on a Sunday I was a basket case, I was so physically drained. I was sitting in a restaurant with my wife because I had to make the attempt to keep the marriage going, to give her the attention on my day off instead of just snoring at her. I remember sitting in this restaurant and almost falling asleep sitting at the table waiting for the food to come and she woke me up and said, “Baby, baby. You’re snoring”, (laughs), and I said, “What am I doing here?” it was like I had literally fallen asleep and woken up in a scene I didn’t know where I was. And I thought we’d better eat up and go. It was tough on her, very tough on her.
HC: How did you feel when the show came to an end?
LH: I’m going to blame this on myself again. Between season one and season two I played Lincoln in a thing for the Turner network, it was The Day Lincoln Was Shot. I flew from Canada home for a couple days and then I jumped on a plane to Richmond, Virginia that’s where we shot it and I became obsessed on Lincoln of course as he’s a very intriguing character and the wonder of his mind and his speeches, all of those things. I didn’t get a chance to rest but was totally obsessed with who he was. And I finished it, jumped on a plane home for about a week and then I had to go back to Canada to start the second season and then worked my ass off that season again and I was determined to not work between those seasons. So I went home and laid on the beach which was the smartest thing we ever did and I could really tell how tired I was when I got to Hawaii.
The ironic part is that when you’re making television there’s no end in sight. If I’m making a movie and they say its four months and that’s a long movie and I have done them six months long you always know that the end is in sight and you can pace yourself. You know that you can walk out of it at the end. I went to Hawaii and I was so beat up and we’d started the third season and it was really rigorous and even in the stories my friends were becoming my enemies and there was this and there was that and I ended up shooting one of them it was like an emotional roller coaster so when we’d finished my wife had told me at the time at the end of the season that she was pregnant and I was really overjoyed because we really wanted a baby. We’d quit smoking a year before that as we really wanted to get pregnant and we wanted to give the baby a chance. When we left at the end of the third season we were in my truck heading back to LA and they called us on the road and they said that the show wasn’t being picked up next year and my wife and I started laughing and giggling we were so happy (laughs) and they heard it over the phone and they said, “You’re laughing (!) We don’t feel good about that”, and I said “Well, I’m sorry, that’s the way it goes” We were relieved and we went home, had the baby and took off for the year to help nurse the baby, not me, help my wife. I was happy and not because Millennium was over but Millennium at the end was getting chaotic it was almost like there was no goal anymore or the goal wasn’t clear and it didn’t have the focus of the first season or the interesting challenges that the second season brought on. And now after the break from Millennium that I started to really think what a film would be like because we were trapped without language. If we had been on HBO and we had more language capacity we would have been an entirely different show what I think was natural for that. That’s what a movie would do.
HC: If the series was to return would you be up for resurrecting Frank?
LH: Sure, sure I would but again the ground rules would be different now because when we did it was dark and I had grown men in supermarkets come up and say, “Man, I watched some of Millennium I liked it but it scared me too much and I can’t watch it” It was like he was in his house and it scared the sh*t out of him and he couldn’t watch it, it was a taboo. I said, “Come on, you’re a grown man. I survived it (!)” (laughs). Anyway things would change you know the dynamic in the country in terms of entertainment has radically changed and I think man, there’s fans and there’s money on the table I don’t understand why they don’t just jump on it. Because it’s such an exciting prospect it really is.
HC: There’s a group named Back To Frank Black who are campaigning to bring the show back, have you been involved with them in any way?
LH: Oh yeah, oh yeah. I’ve been involved for months, almost a year now. James [Mclean] he’s an awesome guy and Troy [Foreman] and others and even that group has grown. There’s Joselyn [Rojas] she’s down in Venezuela, we got people in Boston, it’s a phenomenal group. My beliefs are my direction and everybody else’s is there’s but one of the things that we have in common is we want to see the movie made and we have developed certain strategies that we’re trying to get the attention of Fox and Chris Carter and everybody to understand that this is a distinct possibility. That is the part of the reason for me of writing a book. Also I have other irons in the fire having to do with films that are going to be coming and those things are going to tip the scale. I’m doing anything I can to tip the scale towards getting this movie made. And a lot of good is coming out of it. We are doing auction on the internet for Children Of The Night we’ve got all kinds of plans to reach out and keep us all in the fold the fans and ourselves.
HC: So what’s in your immediate plans at the moment?
LH: My immediate plans are all in action and if new ones come up then I kind of jump on them but right now we’re finishing the book. Jim Cameron gave us the title which is great and he allowed us to use a line out of Aliens and so we got that title and the book is almost completely done. We’re doing a final, final, final polish on it and remember I only do one autobiography I won’t be doing a second edition. So its kind of important I get the points out and what Joe Maddrey (co-writer on the book) wants so it’s a very exciting process. And that’s not full-time. I’m also the voice of Droid and I’m very pleased about that as they do very creative stuff and in its own way its lucrative and it makes me able to choose between the alimony films (laughs) And apart from that all the strategies are in play and that’s a lot of work for Back To Frank Black and everybody that I know so that’s what’s happening.
HC: Lance Henriksen, thank you very much.
LH: You’re welcome, James. Very much.
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