If you’re a horror fan, then you should know who Lance Henriksen is. From Close Encounters of the Third Kind to Aliens to Near Dark to Pumpkinhead and more, Lance has earned his prominent spot in the horror community. To celebrate the release of his latest film, Alpha Rift, I was lucky enough to chat with Lance via Zoom, and honestly, this was one of the best interviews I have ever done. I don’t hear this often, and it was nice for him to end our conversation with, “I’m really glad we did this interview.” Here is what we discussed.
PopHorror: What intrigued you about Alpha Rift and made you want to be a part of it?
Lance Henriksen: I think, to be honest, Dan Lantz is what attracted me to it. He would show me little indicators before we actually worked, and it was a keychain or a coin that he made with the Alpha Rift symbol on it. Or it was… I’ve got something here that’s really interesting. [holds up an item] This is the first model of the helmet that’s used in the movie. And it’s also a kid’s movie.
PopHorror: That’s so cool!
Lance Henriksen: Yeah, he gave it to me. He spent a lot of time developing all the aspects of the movie, like the swords and everything. Every prop he had worked on and figured it all out. This guy was so determined to make this movie that I thought this could be pretty fun. It really could. It was. He went so far as to get a McLaren car, which is a million dollar car.
Lance Henriksen: The one that we used actually sold for $10 million. He was able to get that. So, you look at the extreme. “I’m going to create the armor, and I’m going to get a McLaren…” And he did it all. He did it all. So I was happy to be on board with it. I really was. It was a different kind of movie than I’ve ever done. It’s a real kid’s movie, so I thought this would be a new adventure. That’s all. That’s what went through my mind. And I liked him because of his tenacity, you know? And so, here we are.
PopHorror: I do. I’m sure that makes it more fun when you like the person that you’re working with, and the project is different than what you usually do.
Lance Henriksen: All the young people were wonderful. They gave it their heart. How could I not enjoy that? I don’t know how I was in it. I really don’t. But I’ll find out.
PopHorror: Alpha Rift is wildly imaginative, and it looks like it was a blast to be part of. What was your favorite time on the set?
Lance Henriksen: I think driving the McLaren. Seriously. I would never get near a car like that. I don’t know that I would want to own one, but it was like sitting in the cockpit of a jet. It was a jet. it was so fast. The fight scenes and the choreography and all that kind of stuff that was going on, I liked all of that. I never know how a movie is going to turn out. I think it takes the person directing it and producing it to pull it off.
PopHorror: We briefly spoke about how we met at a convention. You are a fan favorite on the convention circuit. What does it mean to you to have earned so much love and respect by your performances?
Lance Henriksen: Listen to you. Really, you’re getting all of that? Wow! Let me tell you something. Every person at a fan convention is bringing a dream in their pocket. They’re carrying their dream. And if you treat them with the respect they deserve and give them a moment just to fulfill that dream—whatever it is—just to talk for a minute or take a picture with them, whatever it is, it’s very fulfilling. The dream they’re carrying is a movie they saw or that I was in. To meet and just realize and prove once and for all that we’re kind people… We’re good people.
When I was in London, they were doing pictures, and they were rushing. I stopped the whole thing and said, “Guys, you can’t do this. These are fans. This is not a group of cattle being inoculated.” You know what I mean? You shoot them and walk away. They need a moment to relax, just to stop. We’ll talk to each other for a second. Recognition that they’re wonderful people that are happy to be there. I keep referring to it as a dream in your pocket, that it’s yours. And if you discourage them, what happens? They don’t come back. Why would they come back? I’m always on the side of the fan. I don’t even like the word. Friends of the movie world. Something different has got to be more appropriate. So anyway, just fighting for my brothers and sisters, that’s what it is.
PopHorror: And that’s why you’re a fan favorite at conventions! I see you announced, and all the comments on social media are just ecstatic because you’re going to be there, so you are definitely doing it right.
Lance Henriksen: Thank you, thank you. Everybody needs a boost!
PopHorror: What do you think you would be doing in life if you hadn’t become an actor.
Lance Henriksen: I would be a potter, which I also am.
PopHorror: I did not know that!
Lance Henriksen: I make pottery. I’ve been doing it since 1960.
PopHorror: Wow! That is impressive.
Lance Henriksen: Yeah, I’m accomplished with it, so I’m happy. I always have something to do, believe me. My house is about 3,000 square feet or more. Maybe a little more. And my studio is 5,000 square feet. I built it all.
PopHorror: Do you sell the work that you make?
Lance Henriksen: I’ve taken off about a year from selling, because suddenly I realized I was shipping and packing and doing that, and that was taking away from what I wanted to do, which is make pottery. So it makes sense, but it doesn’t make sense. I make a living another way. I don’t have to make it with pottery. I love doing it.
PopHorror: That’s so interesting! You have established yourself with the help of some really memorable roles in the horror genre over the years. What do you find appealing about horror?
Lance Henriksen: It’s morality plays. Horror films, the character that you’re doing, is part of a bigger thing, which is where are we all at this point in our lives. And if I go see Near Dark, let’s say. I look at it and I go, “I would like to be doing the prequel.” How did we meet?
PopHorror: That would be amazing!
Lance Henriksen: It’s an ever-expanding story. I think there’s a time. I know blood on the screen is brutal, but there is such a thing as, “We can’t fight. We can’t act out like these characters do.” Some of them you’re connected to because they’re like a part of something else in your life. But you’re dealing with it by watching the movie. “Yeah, I’m on that guy’s side,” or “He’s a monster, but I like him still.” It’s psycho. I’ve done some wild ones, believe me.
PopHorror: What’s up next for you, Lance?
Lance Henriksen: You know, I’ve done three movies this year. One is a movie called Artifice Girl, about a 12-year-old created with AI, to communicate with pedophiles to get them arrested. As a character, I spent my whole life developing this, and it’s unbelievable. It’s a beautiful movie. Wait until you see it. The girl who’s in it, I create her as a robot, an independent character. I called her Muhammad Ali. She’s so good. Muhammad Ali, when he punches, he throws it and at the last second, he turns his fist which makes it strong. And this girl is such a fine actress, unbelievable for her age.
Anyway, we did that movie, and I did one in Italy. I did another one called On Fire, and I’m playing the patriarch of the family. It’s a little bit like Paradise where the whole town got burned to the ground. It’s really well done. I’ve been very busy.
PopHorror: You have! I will have to keep an eye out for these. I am most intrigued with Artifice Girl.
Lance Henriksen: Yeah, the guy who did that one, his name is Franklin Rich. He’s in Florida. We shot that in Florida. It’s probably going to be one of the best movies out when it comes out.
PopHorror: It sounds like it’s pretty relevant to what’s in the news now with pedophilia.
Lance Henriksen: We have to stop that shit. And this is a good step in that direction. I’m lucky to get to do that movie, so I’m pretty happy about it.
PopHorror: Do you know when it’s coming out?
Lance Henriksen: He’s just doing the final edit. Now he has to introduce it.
PopHorror: I just have one last question for you today. What is your favorite scary movie?
Lance Henriksen: Someone else made, or that I made?
PopHorror: That you like to watch.
Lance Henriksen: Oh, nobody’s ever asked me that.
Lance Henriksen: Yeah, you did it! Let me think for a second… I remember I was only scared when I was a little kid, and it was called The Thing. The original black and white one. I used to shine shoes in New York when I was a kid, and I remember taking half my money and giving it to my mother, and the other half I would go see movies. She didn’t know what I did. But I remember back in the day when I was a little kid, you could watch the same movie without a break. It would say, “The End,” and then it would play over again. Remember that? I watched The Thing, and when I left the theater, I was so scared that I had to walk down the yellow line in the middle of the street because I thought this thing was going to jump out at me. But that was the kind of scary that got me. I’m really excited by the prospect of other life forms, and that’s scary to me. I watch all them NASA Perseverance videos, and they show a pile of rock and another pile of rock, and they introduce it with something special. Another pile of rock and they zoom in on it, and I’m going, “What’s different?” I think they actually sent Perseverance to Arizona, and that’s what you’re seeing.
Thank you so much, Lance, for taking the time to speak with us. Be sure to catch Alpha Drift on OnDemand now.