Cheers To Lance Henriksen On His Birthday!

Lance Henriksen was born in Manhattan, NY, on May 5th, 1940. This month brings us his 80th birthday and we want to pay tribute to the man who brought us six decades of work in the horror and sci-fi genres. He has conquered both film and television with classic roles such as Jesse Hooker in Near Dark (1987) and Frank Black on the program Millennium (1996). Not much is written about Henriksen’s childhood other than that he was quite a troublemaker. He did not attend school past grade 1, and therefore, grew up illiterate. When it came time to learn scripts around the age of 30, he taught himself how to read. He also served in the military for a period in the mid 1950s. 

The horror legend is an extremely talented artist as well. The Golden Globe nominated actor has been producing art since 1960, and continues to this day. He not only works with clay and murals, he has delved into writing as well having co- authored an autobiography Not Bad For A Human – The Life and Films of Lance Henriksen (2011). He has also written the comic book series, To Hell You Ride (2012). Henriksen has been married three times and raised four children.  

Henriksen as Bishop in Aliens. A classic scene that completely traumatized me as a child.

Below, Henriksen answers fan questions about acting, voice work and more at a 2017 convention.

Lance Henriksen graduated from the Actors Studio, and his first role was in an off-Broadway play entitled The Plays of the Sea. From there, he began building sets in Hollywood which landed him his first onscreen acting role in the 1961 film The Outsider. As we all know, he went on to star in such classic horror and sci-fi films as Aliens (1986) and Aliens 3 (1992), The Terminator (1984), Pumpkinhead (1988), and Alien vs Predator (2004). 


My favorite character of his is Jesse in the previously mentioned Near Dark (1987). Henriksen plays the leader of a gang of wild punk vampires who love nothing more than to tear up a bar for no reason at all. They wreak havoc everywhere they go, and Henriksen’s phenomenal ability to ease into such a role with seemingly no obstacles or hesitation displays the talent and brand he has honed through his decades of experience in the industry. Henriksen can go from playing a detective in The Terminator, to a hedonistic vampire in Near Dark, to an ex-cop in Delta Heat (1992), to Evil Knoffel in 2004’s Evil Knievel, all with his usual seamless charisma and rebellious charm. Showing no signs of slowing down, check out the 2020 drama, Falling, where Henriksen will be performing alongside Viggo Mortenson.

One thing is certain, the legacy and legend of Lance Henriksen was established long ago and has been cemented into our minds and hearts forever. Once again, Happy Birthday to Bishop, Jesse, Frank, Lance. We love you! 

Read another PopHorror writer’s thoughts on Lance Henriksen here

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