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 Evel Knievel (2004) (TV), 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" (1996/I), Fox-TV's critically acclaimed series created by Chris Carter ("The X-Files" (1993)). 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".
Born in New York, 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 (1975), followed by parts in Lumet's Network (1976) and Prince of the City (1981). He then appeared in Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) with Richard Dreyfuss and François Truffaut, Damien: Omen II (1978) and in Philip Kaufman's The Right Stuff (1983), in which he played Mercury astronaut Capt. Wally Schirra.
James Cameron cast Henriksen in his first directorial effort, Piranha Part Two: The Spawning (1981), then used him again in The Terminator (1984) and as the android Bishop in the sci-fi classic Aliens (1986). Sam Raimi cast Henriksen as an outrageously garbed gunfighter in his quirky western The Quick and the Dead (1995). Henriksen has also appeared in what has developed into a cult classic: Kathryn Bigelow's Near Dark (1987), 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 (1998) (TV).
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. He resides in Southern California with his wife Jane and their five-year-old daughter Sage.
|Jane Pollack||(22 April 1995 - 16 May 2006) (divorced) 1 child|
|Mary Jane Evans||(10 February 1985 - 1988) (divorced) 1 child|
Gravelly deep yet commanding voice
Intense understated performances
Has two daughters: Sage Ariel (12 October 1999) and Alcamy (b. 1987).
Was illiterate until the age of thirty, when he learned to read by studying movie scripts.
His father was a Merchant Marine seaman nicknamed "Icewater".
Parents divorced when he was two.
Dropped out of school and left home at age 12.
Served in the United States Navy.
There was talk of having him reprise his role as Detective Vukovich in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003). The idea was to have his character bound in a wheelchair (after having survived the events of the original film). However, that idea was eventually rejected.
Was considered for the title role in The Terminator (1984), but was ruled out when it was decided that Arnold Schwarzenegger (who was reading for the role of Kyle Reese) would be the perfect choice as the Terminator.
Has had at least two franchise characters written for him over the years. James Cameron originally wrote The Terminator (1984) character with him in mind, as did Victor Salva with the Creeper from the Jeepers Creepers (2001) movies.
In addition to having faced off against lethal aliens in the "Alien" and "Predator" films, he has also appeared in a film about more benevolent aliens: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).
As a young man, he hitchhiked across the United States.
He was James Cameron's original choice for the title role in The Terminator (1984) when the concept was for a machine that could blend into a crowd. Cameron had even made concept drawings of Henriksen as the Terminator. When the concept was changed, and Arnold Schwarzenegger was cast, Henriksen was re-cast as Det. Vukovich. When Cameron made Aliens (1986), he cast Henriksen as Bishop, an android.
Lived in Borneo for three years when he was a kid.
Enjoys pottery and has been doing it for over 40 years.
He has filmed over seven movies in Romania.
He was walking through a hotel lobby in Romania (where he was wrapping up another film) when he was offered One Point O (2004).
Is a big fan of Eminem's music.
Loves to vacation in Hawaii.
He and Bill Paxton are the only two actors to face off against a Terminator, an Alien and a Predator.
He is the only actor besides Sigourney Weaver to appear in more than one "Alien" movie.
The Irish electronica group Machines of Love have a song entitled "Lance Henriksen". The group's frontman P.A.L.A.S has said that he's a huge fan of his films and says that he's "criminally underrated".
Bears a striking resemblance to actor Stephen McHattie, with whom he is often confused. They even once played twin brothers, on an episode of the television series "Beauty and the Beast" (1987) called "Snow".
Lives in Santa Clarita, California.
The part of Frank Black in "Millennium" (1996/I) was written with him in mind.
Claims to have improvised his entire role in Stone Cold. He still believes it to be among his best roles.
Broke his hand while filming Piranha Part Two: The Spawning (1981) in Jamaica after jumping 40 feet out of a helicopter doing his own stunts. A crew member took him to the local hospital, but the sight of chickens rooting in a dumpster full of bloody bandages prompted him to reconsider medical treatment. He finished the shoot (in extreme pain) with a broken hand.
Spent four and a half months in Miami's Dade County Jail at age 17 for being an accomplice to a vehicle theft and alluding police in a car chase (the man driving, and guilty of the crime, was a person that had picked him up hitchhiking). Also spent a short stint in a Tucson, Arizona, jail for vagrancy in 1960.
The western The Big Sky (1952) was one of his biggest influences to get into film as a young man.
By the time he was 8 years old, he had spent time in two orphanages, a boarding school and a foster home.
I always wanted to be an actor, even when I was a little kid. When I used to run away from home, I'd go to movies and sit all night watching Kirk Douglas. When I was 16, I tried getting into the Actors Studio and they told me to get lost. I said "I'll come back when I'm a man", and I came back when I was 30. I went to sea, I traveled the world . . . I was waiting.
You can't do every movie - although I do a lot of them - and the thing I'm longing to do is . . . it's not that I think I'm funny . . . but I long to do a situation comedy.
The challenge for me in a part is if it's something I haven't done.
If I'm going to have a rough time doing it, then that's what I'll do. If I'm in the comfort zone, I can't. I have to get off-balance enough to be alive.
I'm pretty slapstick in my life but nobody sees that. You get typecast. I'm from New York and I have a shit-detector that's outspoken. I'm very streetwise and the producers detect that. So they get me on a movie and kill me. I go into their offices and I'm sure when I leave they say, "You know, he'd be great to kill". I've been killed every way you can imagine.
I've always known from the beginning of my acting career that you only get an acting job if you've got something to learn about it. If you don't do it well, you'll be condemned to doing the same role over and over and over again. If you do it mediocre you'll have to do it again. Once you've done the role really well, you don't have to repeat it , you don't have to go back there.
[on what he won't do as an actor] I won't do slasher movies, and I won't play child molesters or men who beat women. I can't rationalize "Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Friday 13th" films because they're too one-note. And besides, I've been killed in so many movies in so many ways over the years that to be dealing out that kind of death would be terrible. I'll play a bad guy, but he has to be a character with a purpose.
[on his success] I appreciate the idea that anybody would think of me as a star. But I'm really not career-oriented in the sense that I want to be a star. It's not in me. It's not what I do. In fact, I'm amazed that I've even gotten this far.
[on his instincts as an actor] When I first read the script for Hard Target (1993), I thought, "I'm gonna glue my ears back for this role", and I had no idea why at the time. In my mind's eye I saw the character as being linear, sleek; he looked like a Doberman. So I got my hair cut in a certain way. The thing I hate most in acting is asking permission to do things. What you really want to do is say, "This is my need; this is what's going to get me further; this is what's going to be alive". I don't ever say, "Do you mind if . . . ?" I just come in and do it.
[on working so much] You know something, if you're not acting, you're not an actor - you've gotta work. No way around it. I remember Andy Garcia - we had done Jennifer Eight (1992) together. And Andy, I think, was probably making a couple of million for that movie, and he looked at me one day and he goes, "Hey Lan, you work too much, you shouldn't work so much". And I said, "Alright Andy, if I was making a couple million a movie, I wouldn't work too much. I wouldn't need to work 'too much'!" Everybody has their own life to live, and I love doing the work, so what I am I gonna do? He hasn't done the same kind of roles I have. But it's lucky for me, because I'm really having a good time.
Acting is still tough for me on a certain level. Every role for me is like going back to zero. I have to decide what I'm going to do or if I can even act anymore. It's rough when you're constantly challenging yourself to do better and better work, rather than merely going through the motions.
I've broken bones doing stunts, I've always been one to have a go. But after a while I realized that there are some things not worth doing. Stunt men pay a price, some of them can hardly walk when they're older. John Woo set me on fire twice for Hard Target (1993). It burnt my ears! But I would've done anything for John Woo.
When I start working I go back to zero again literally. It's the only way, because if I approach a film without being at zero I'm not having the experience. I'm just bringing my tricks - and I'm not gonna do that. It's risky because you end up on an adventure that you weren't expecting, and I like it. That's why I do acting. I am still enthusiastic about acting. I'm not bored. I'm not doing a George Sanders: poor guy killed himself. His note was, "I'm bored". Poor guy. But, no, I love it.
When you do a low-budget film, you gotta let your intuition fly.
I never understand with movie companies, why they don't think of where to spend money. A lot of the time they throw money at things that don't work. They just keep throwing money at it: "Well, this movie, if it didn't work with that much money, this will make it work!" But they don't know that if they paid actors for a couple of weeks to rehearse, they would save hundreds of thousands of dollars on the set.
[on leaving his role as Frank Black in "Millennium" (1996/I) behind him] Man, it took me a year to get out of that. With effort. The first thing I did was go to Hawaii and get two tattoos. One is a shark, the other dolphins. I felt attacked, and I felt like a beast. It was dark stuff. I think if we had gone on another year, it really would have taken hold.
[on playing real characters] The hardest part about playing a real person in a movie is that it makes you very self-conscious. But once you start working then you're OK, you get into it and don't think about it. It's different if you meet them beforehand, it would make it easier. But I've only ever played guys I've never met. It would be better to meet them beforehand.
[on how he got started in the business] I started in theatre, my first job was designing sets. I didn't know what I was doing, but I had a talent for making dramatic sets; I had been a painter for years. The first play I did, I got the job because I had built the set! And I didn't even know I got the lead part. The key thing to remember in this business is that they don't invite you in, but once you're in they won't kick you out. So start small and it will grow.
[on inspirational actors] Certain actors' performance even in bad films can be incredible, and inspiring. Some of my favorite actors weren't very well noticed in their careers: John Lone was a great actor, he came from the Peking Theatre. And Yun-Fat Chow. John Woo is a great guy and an inspiring person. Along the way there are moments from all kinds of movies, if I find five minutes in any film worth watching it is worth watching the film. I love finding that gem of a performance. There are so many actors who are so talented. The one best thing on "Millennium" (1996/I) was meeting new actors every week. I always tried to make them feel welcome.
[on creating characters] There's a way that the Actors Studio works, they want you to create character based on some experience from your own life so you personalize it. If you put that in your role your gonna do it: once you commit and make it personal, it's like a thread. That thread, once its pulled - channeled - you don't know where it's coming from. You start this 'channeling '. And it starts coming at such a speed.
I just feel lucky to get as many shots as I get at good roles. Really lucky, indeed. I always loved movies as an escape. I just wanted to be an artist, because I don't just want to come and go and have no one know I ever lived. I wanted to make a record of my existence. For some people it doesn't happen, even if they're wonderful talents. Knock on wood, it has happened to me, but I know many talented people who aren't working.
I had no idea I would make my career in film, but I always knew from my theater work that I would be an actor. To be honest there are hard parts to being an actor. I'm still coming to terms with being away from home, being in a hotel for months on end, losing girl friends and wives because I'm not there to maintain such relationships.
It does seem like some of my films have become cult movies and have done very well in the long run. In several cases, they have proven themselves without any help at all.
If you're not acting, you're not an actor.
My feeling is, I do a lot of low-budget films. I don't do low-budget acting. I have no interest in just goofballing my way through, thinking ah, no one's ever going to see this anyway ... And you know, most people don't set out to do a bad movie. There are a few exceptions -- what I call "alimony films," where the whole point is to pay some bills -- but mostly people are trying to do their best. What's frustrating to me is when, on a low-budget movie, people don't take chances. A big-budget movie, that script's your bible, nobody's going to risk going off the page. But when you're doing a very low-budget film, why not take some chances, intellectually, artistically?
(2011, on Stone Cold and improvising his entire role) Craig Baxley came in, I met with him in the lobby of the hotel, and I said: "Craig, if you notice in the script, every line that Chains says comes directly from the Bible." I said, "The minute I open my mouth and say the first one, the audience is going to back off. They won't listen to a fucking thing I say after that, because it's ridiculous." He said, "What should we do?" I said, "Let me improvise the entire role. I'll stay within the structure of the script, but I want to improvise every line."... That was a moment where I decided to stop being afraid of whatever was coming that I didn't know about yet. I just said [to myself], 'I have confidence now. You've either got it or you don't. I have it. I have to rely on the unspoken things - the instincts that are in my body that only I know about.' That's how I was able to walk up to the director and say, "This role is really about something else...." That was the first time I ever said that to a director. I was really taking a chance - because I wasn't on film yet and I could have been fired - but he said okay. After that, I got so deep into the role that I'd just say whatever came into my mind.
(2011, on his role in Tales from the Crypt in the episode "Cutting Cards") It was one of my favorites. I asked them to dress me all in black and put the piping in such a way that the guy looks totally non-physical - because gamblers spend all their time at a table. Then I got that little stupid-ass mustache. Walter Hill let me do whatever I wanted, because he understood that sometimes the smallest thing can help me find the character. What happened on the Crypt set was that everyone would say, 'Let's try this!' or 'Let's try that!' We never wanted to stop trying new things... even though we were working twelve, fourteen hours a day!
(2011, on working with Ellen Barkin in Johnny Handsome) As soon as I got there (to New Orleans), we went out drinking together. She took me to a place to get my ear pierced. She said, "You need an earring, you need a big fucking earring." She bought me a battleaxe [earring] and she said, "That's what you're going to use to play your character." We created our whole dynamic during that one evening of carousing the French Quarter. We were the couple from hell. We were constantly berating each other - making scenes. We created the whole thing out of that. It was great. She was probably the strongest actress I've ever worked with.... And not only was she a great actress, but she was so sexy that she made me shy.
(2011, on always being pegged as the villain) A friend of mine wrote a script and he wanted me to play a character who was the most offensive human being - I mean, he was raping women and butchering them. I said, "I can't do it." Another guy called me out of the blue once, and he actually said, "Hey Lance, I've got a role for you. You were born to do this role. It is you." So I said, "What is it?" And he said, "Well, it's this child molester..." And I said, "Do you realize what you just said to me?"... How am I supposed to respond to that? I said, "I'm not interested in your fucking movie. Don't ever call me again." I couldn't react any other way.
(On almost being killed filming Piranha Part Two: The Spawning in Jamaica) There was a cement pier going out into the harbor, and we put the camera right out on the end of that pier, so the harbor would look like open ocean. And we were hovering in the helicopter while they set the shot up. It took so long to set the shot that nobody noticed this big sailboat with a high mast coming into the harbor behind us. And when we turned to go out, the mast was right there. I looked down and saw my feet only two feet away from it. If we'd hooked it, we would have been dead. Luckily the pilot was a Jamaican Air Force pilot who had chased drug smugglers, and he reacted instinctively and put that thing straight up in the air. He just yanked back on the stick and we went up until we lost air speed. Then the engine stalled. He flipped it around and dove straight into the ocean to re-gain air speed. We just barely managed to fly out of there. It was a miracle we didn't hit the water.... We went over to a nearby field and landed. When we got out of the helicopter - it was just the pilot and me - we were shaking. It was a hell of a fucking ride. I remember Jim [Cameron] said afterwards, "I thought you were fucking dead." Everybody was so shocked that they dropped the camera in the water. We had to send for a new camera.
(On filming Tales from the Crypt episode "Yellow" with Kirk Douglas) I had to tell Kirk Douglas that his son was a yellow bastard...He called me over and he goes, 'Lance...Such power...such power.' To get that kind of compliment from him, of all people, was overwhelming. I couldn't even answer.
(2011) The predominant feeling I have at the end of a job is that I don't know who I am. It's a distinct feeling of not having any identity at all. None. This has been the biggest problem of my life, especially in relationships with women. Because when I go into that phase, where I don't know who the fuck I am, what have they got? They're standing there on the sidelines going, "What about us?"... It's the price you have to pay for this kind of work. At least, it's the price I have to pay. You have to shed the role, you have to absolutely shed it, and then you need time to heal.
(On filming The Pit and the Pendulum with Oliver Reed) I remember the day when Oliver Reed came in. He was playing a cardinal, sent by the Pope.... He was such a loose canon. When I met him, we said our hellos and then he said, "You want to see something?" I said, "What?" And he out his dick. The head was tattooed with what looked like an ace of spades - it was a quick glance. I said, "Put that ugly fucking thing away." He just laughed. That night, we all sat down for a big welcoming dinner - the director, the producers and the cast. There must have been thirty of us. And there were these bowls of apples on the table. And lots of wine! Oliver took an apple and he put it on the table in front of him. Then he slammed his fist down and turned it into applesauce. It just went everywhere. That was exactly the kind of release I was looking for. I just wanted to let (my character) go, because I felt so restrained. I felt like I had wound the watch too far, and the spring was so tight. So I grabbed an apple and I did it too. I slammed it and it went everywhere. Everyone at the table was appalled. And I thought, Perfect. After that, I took Oliver's lead for the rest of the night. We proceeded to drink all of the white wine on the table - about ten bottles of local wine - and then went into this evening of oblivion. I remember literally climbing the wall outside the castle - this 150-foot high, almost completely vertical wall. We climbed all the way to the top and stood on the edge, screaming down at the town below. That's the last thing I remember. The next thing I remember was waking up in bed the next morning, and my clothes were hanging on the doorknob outside my room...and they were completely shredded. I don't know what the hell the story was there.
(2011, on his character in Hard Target) I was in a bar once with this guy who was provoking everyone around him, including me. He pushed people right to the point where they were ready to fight. Then he would get happy - because when everybody around him was operating at a certain adrenaline level, he felt normal. That was my motivation for the character in Hard Target.
(2011, on The Outfit) He sent me the script in California, and I thought I was playing an FBI agent in it. When I got to the East Coast, he said, "No Lance, you're playing Dutch Schultz - one of the most famous mobsters in American history." I had twelve hours to prepare, so I stayed up all night reading about this guy in my hotel room. It was a crash course. I got one hour of sleep that night.... In the morning, I decided just to for it. I thought: This is the only opportunity I'll ever have to play this person. You don't get to play a famous person twice. Just go for it...I got to shoot a Thompson sub machine gun from back in the 30s. It kinda ruined one of my ears. We were moving so fast that I forgot to put earplugs in, and that baby is loud... Yeah, I had fun with it. I got to push everybody around... but I got sick of the sound of my own voice.
(2011, on filming Delta Heat and working with Anthony Edwards) The director would just say, "Hey man, don't worry about it. It's a happening thing." That's how he would direct us! And then Tony and I would look at each other like, "What the fuck?" Then we would work our asses off figuring out the scene, and he would go, "See? I told you! It's a happening thing, man!" He did the whole movie that way... We just surrendered to it...The producer was so cheap he wasn't even feeding the crew breakfast. Tony called up a catering service and for a week he paid for the catering, to embarrass the producer into giving them breakfast. And it worked. Tony Edwards impressed the shit out of me.
(2011, on working with Uma Thurman on Jennifer 8) At one point, we were shooting in an old abandoned mental institution. Uma brought a Ouija board and we went up into the scariest part of the building. We asked it: "Who killed Kennedy?" And the thing almost leaped out of our hands. It spelled: "LBJ, LBJ." Then we asked, "Who are you?" And the thing said, "I'm the guy that did it." He said he had been put in this Canadian syphilitic ward to keep him quiet, and he never got out. He died there. We got so scared that we threw the Ouija board away. That was fun. Uma was great!
(2011, on Jennifer 8) I thought that the character I was playing had gone through a phase where he wanted to be the super-cop. He was an L.A. cop, but he got fed up after a while and transferred to this small town, Eureka. Now he's getting close to retirement. He's got a wife that he loves. He goes fishing on the weekend. He was very at peace... I don't normally get those kinds of roles. I usually get roles where the guy is carrying the angst of the world in his fucking soul. Playing Freddy Ross was the happiest I've ever been on a movie set...On the second day of shooting, I was doing this scene on my boat. I look up on the pier and I see Jon Voight standing with the producer. I immediately thought I was gonna get replaced. I know Jon, so I should have said hello - but I couldn't because I thought he was there to replace me. It went through me like a cold breeze, and I thought: Oh no, I really like this role... In the end, it turned out that I was just being paranoid.
(2011) Every love affair you ever have, that chick leaves a mark on you. And whenever you have a good laugh, your DNA is altered. Those things make you who you are. For me, it's the same thing with acting. Every role alters my cell structure. Those films are in me. I am who I am in relation to the characters I've played. There are times where I'm playing a role and I think: I like this guy's life more than my own. And then I hear the director yell "Cut!" and I think: Fuck! I was just getting somewhere. It's crazy, isn't it?
(2011, on Hard Target and his character) I was getting really dark when I was shooting that movie. I was hanging out with the scum of New Orleans - I'm talking about gangsters and killers. I was so into that role, and I was looking at the world like I had night-vision or something. It was crazy.... And for what? When I saw the movie, I thought: Why did you do that? Why did you put yourself through that dark place? I didn't have to do that. It didn't even show in the movie. That guy [Fouchon] was all style. I could have had much more fun with the role. I really could have. I didn't need to lick the lint off of the floor to prove that I was willing.
(2011) I was in Tangiers, all of the hip writers - guys like Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs - were living there in this apartment building. Everybody was always on the roof, smoking hashish and philosophizing... I didn't have enough education for it to be entertaining to me, so I watched it as a voyeur. I thought I was wild, but these guys were bizarre. But they were good people, you know. They accepted each other. It was an era of connection.... I remember I had a buddy in New York whose name was Johnson, and he was a painter, too. He used to ride this little scooter around the city. One day I went to McSorley's Ale House to find him, because we all used to meet there, to talk art and drink beer. I went in and said, "Where's Johnson?" And everybody said, "You didn't hear? He got killed - he was riding his scooter and he got hit by a truck." I was devastated. I walked out of McSorley's and I was weeping uncontrollably. I was really upset, because Johnson was one of the few friends I had that I felt really close to. I ran into Allan Ginsberg, and he took the time and tried really hard to talk me down from the absolute devastation I was feeling... That's the kind of guy he was. The artists of that era - the poets and the painters - they were good people.
(2011, on A Message from Fallujah) I was shooting a commercial in Australia and, the day before I left, the director said to me, "I have this idea for an anti-war film." He described it in vague terms and said, "Would you be interested in doing it?" We were at the height of the [Iraq] war at that point, so I said, "I'll do it but I don't want any money for it." We communicated over the next couple of months and got the script to where we wanted it, and then I jumped on a plane and we shot it in a week... I played an American engineer who's done six months of contract work [in the Middle East] and he's getting ready to leave. Everybody is going to the airport, but he stayed to have one more cup of tea. If he had gone with them, nothing would have happened, but he was enjoying his tea. That was important to me because it showed this guy appreciating little things about the culture. I wanted that contrast between the beauty of the culture and the insanity of war... I also used Saddam money to pay for the tea. I had been in Romania making a film, and I met these two soldiers who were on leave from battle. They were staying in the same hotel I was staying at. And one of the soldiers gave me some Saddam money. I was very touched by it. He was trying to give me the only thing he had to offer. And I felt really grateful that they were sitting there - alive, not dead. So we used that in the movie.
(2011, on making three Sasquatch movies) the end of the Sasquatch movies. If you've done three, there are no more expressions you could possibly have left towards a Sasquatch that would be new, unless he steps on me. Don't even mention Sasquatch to me. If I get another script that says "The Sasquatch looks around the tree," I'm going to go, "No way, leave me alone, man."
(2011, on all the Pumpkinhead sequels) I know that character's pain. I know his disappointment. And I was revisiting an experience that I understood really well.... That's why I crawled out of the theater when I saw those. They were gonna have a Q&A at the end of the third Pumpkinhead, but I got down on the floor and I crawled out. When the lights came up, they said, "Well, we have Lance... Lance?... Where's Lance?" And my agent was laughing because he'd seen me crawl out. That was fucking embarrassing... but I just wanted to get the fuck out, because I knew that the director was gonna get up and talk moon talk about this movie that I didn't care about, and I didn't want to humiliate the memory of the original Pumpkinhead by getting up there and waxing eloquent about bullshit. I mean, look at the situation: I'm a ghost of what was originally there. Why would I want to get up and say, "I'll tell you what it feels like to be a ghost of the original. This is a piece of shit." I didn't want to say that. I'd rather get out and let them have their little party... When people bring up those Pumpkinhead sequels, it's like saying, "You know what you did when you were drunk last night?" That's what it feels like.
(2011, on Beautiful Wave) I understood the role immediately. When you get out on a board, all you have to deal with is the movement of the ocean. For the first twenty-five years of my life, I never stopped moving. As a kid, I was always either running from something or to something imaginary. When I was on the road, I always felt that I was arriving somewhere right after something happened, or right before something was going to happen... but never when it happened. And I connected this to surfing, because that's all about movement - and movement can be a reassuring thing when you're doing it in solitude. In pottery, it's the same thing. I have solitude when I'm working. There are no limits, no boundaries. It's all created by me. When I'm making pottery, my boundaries belong to me. And that's the great escape.
(2011, on The Last Cowboy) The easiest movie I ever made...I'm working with an actress, I get a sense of how she sees the world and where she is in life. I'm getting to know the person, not the character. Once I do that, I start to realize that we all have much more in common than we think we do. A lot of people think of themselves as utterly different and utterly isolated, but the truth is that we're all going through the same things in life. We're all trying to figure out how we fit into the world. In a situation like this, that father/daughter relationship becomes automatic. It happens off-screen, and then hopefully it happens onscreen.
(2011, on his love of pottery) I have a strong attraction towards discovery. That's what pottery is about for me. I ceramics as a recording device. It records everything you do, from the moment you pick up a ball of the clay to the moment you take the finished-fired piece out of the kiln. Everything is recorded in it - every touch, everything it's been exposed to. When I look at a pot, that's what I see. I don't look at a finished pot and go, "That's a great pot." I look at a pot and see the experience. I've thrown away more kiln-loads of pottery than any potter I know - thrown them away, taken them to the dump - but I didn't throw them away before I saw what was recorded there. The finished pot records the whole adventure, and that's what I love about it. From the lump of clay to a bisque-fired piece to a glazed piece to a finish-fired piece, I like to prolong my involvement with a piece. And I'm experimenting constantly, at each stage, because I want to surprise myself...It is meditation in a very broad sense. You create your environment - you create your studio. You know where to find your tools. You know where you mix your clay. The environment is structured and so well-lived in that you come to depend on it. You go there for comfort. You go there for escape. You go there for all the things you can't get anywhere else.... Acting doesn't offer the same security, because you're part of someone else's cosmos. In pottery, I create my own cosmos. I'm in it as soon as I walk through the door of my studio. It's compulsive. I have a compulsive desire to pursue the things in life that make me feel like I own myself.
(2011) I went through a phase where I was being invited to Eastern Europe to do these movies. And I thought: It's a payday. It's an adventure. I never thought they'd be shown in America. I really didn't... I call them jet-lag movies, because I always got there feeling jet-lagged and then we'd start shooting the next day. I wouldn't even get an eight hour turn-around before I had to start reciting all this shit. They don't give you any time. It's just, "Get in there and do it." And you know what the feeling of jet-lag is like. You're physically there, but your soul is somewhere else.... That's how I felt making those movies.
(2011, on Antibody) That movie was so cheap that the whole ship was made out of wood. Even the chairs were wood. Everything was wood. Every fucking thing. Instead of using a little leather here and there, or a little plastic.... Robin Givens and I went into a laughing jag in one of those scenes, and we almost couldn't get out of it. It was the scene where the ship was bouncing and we're [reacting with minimal movement]. I look back and I see this Argentinean actor [bouncing around exaggeratedly] and I'm thinking: What the fuck is he doing? It made me laugh so hard, I had trouble for the rest of the day. Every time I thought of it, it made me start laughing again.
(2011, on filming movies in Romania) You step into another world and you feel the vibe of that country. With Romania, I hadn't seen all the pain and tumult that made it like it was, but I was still sensitive to it. It's surprising how much you take in, and how that affects your work.... I spent a lot of time talking to the people of Romania about what it was like when (Dictator) Ceausescu was around. I actually stayed in Ceausescu's old library building, and I went on tours of the city.... The first time I went, there were packs of wild dogs running around that would attack people in the streets. Because when Ceausescu moved people out of their houses [to put them in working-class apartment complexes], people had to let their pets go because they had nowhere to put them. I heard a story that, when the Army executed Ceausescu and his wife, they were shot so many times that their heads were blown open, and a stray dog came into that courtyard and ate their brains off of the ground. When I went back to Romania the second time, most of the dogs had been killed.... That sort of thing makes a strong impression.
(2011, on his career) I've always wrestled with the feeling that I'm not worthy of everything that's been given to me. I'm a shoe-shine boy from Manhattan! How the fuck did all of this happen? I didn't plan any of it. Everything that's come along has been like a kiss in the dark. Even now, I don't really know where my next job is going to come from or where it's going to take me...The miracle of my life that I was able to hang in there long enough to outlive my bad behavior. When I was young, I was really angry and fucked up. The arts drew me right out of that, and gave me choices... Though the arts, I've worked with some of the most talented people alive today. And they are the making of me - because they've helped me to embrace all these wonderful ideas and concepts that have furthered my growth as a human being. That's why I'm still in it. For me, art has been the difference between life and death... If a child is in an unhappy place, they go somewhere to seek out what they need. Otherwise, they're not going to survive. They're not going to flourish. My whole life has been this pursuit. I guess all people's lives are like that. That's what we have in common. You use all of your experiences, and you get some lucky breaks, and people help you. I haven't done this alone, that's for sure. If I'd had to do all of this by myself - trying to learn all of the life lessons that we have to learn if we're going to go out with any grace - it would have taken me ten or twenty lifetimes.
(2011) The real result of doing a movie is a feeling of satisfaction. As soon as that happens, then you step into the waiting room. Now what am I going to do? Am I going to celebrate? Am I going to reward myself and go on holiday? Okay, that lasts five minutes. Now what? Now I wait. I start feeling like I don't know who I am. I start that cycle all over again.... One of my favorite thinkers, Gonzalo Lira, wrote a blog the other day where he said, "I'm down. I'm really down. I'm waiting for something. I don't know what I'm waiting for, but I'll know it when I see it." That's a beautiful thing. I felt really moved by the fact that this brilliant guy could stop in the middle of everything and admit that. No bullshit; just sharing the truth. People responded and started telling him what he should do with his life. They were all trying to be rescuers... But he didn't need rescuing. He didn't need to be fixed. He was just being honest. To me, that's the real power of all of this... We're sharing ideas. We're sharing the truth...My worst enemy is waiting and isolation. In a way, all actors live a life of quiet desperation, because you don't have a solid routine that you can depend on... until you're working, and then you're as solid as anybody.
(2011, on Mangler 2) I had to pay some bills.
(2011) My influence on these lower-budget movies has always been to say that you can't compete with the blockbusters. We don't have the money, so let's use our imaginations. I've done enough of these movies to know that we are not going to be able to compete with a hundred million dollar movie. So let's use our imaginations and turn this film into something original. Even a tiny, simple scene - let's turn it into something different. That's always my goal.
Jim (James Cameron) is one of those directors that every dollar goes up on the screen and what he was doing with Terminator was in a lot of ways way ahead of its time. It was a five million dollar movie but looked like twenty. (On The Terminator (1984))
[on a simple but continually useful exercise learned from Sandra Seacat in the 1970s, from a 1993 Film Comment interview] I had a wonderful acting teacher, Sandra Seacat, and one of the things she taught was she'd put a book on a chair and all you did was ask questions about that book: is it a good book or a lousy book? Who made the binding? Why don't I want to read it? Why would I want to read it? How long has it been sitting there? It's a very simple exercise but I do that all the time, constantly question myself and my surroundings, not in a negative way but in a positive way that leads toward my character.
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