“One thing I know for sure: God didn’t bring me this far to drop me on my ass.”
Lance Henriksen is well known to SF and horror fans for such films and TV shows as Aliens, The Right Stuff, Millennium, Pumpkinhead, Aliens vs. Predator, and much more.
In his autobiography, Henriksen depicts a childhood fraught with poverty and insecurity with a mother who survived a succession of failed, and sometimes violent, marriages. His brief service in the U.S. Navy was no less problematic and ended in his arrest and discharge after going AWOL.
Wandering across the country and through Europe with a strong passion for art, Henriksen finally found his calling in acting—despite illiteracy. He eventually used scripts to teach himself to read. Over time, he moved from stage to film and, reluctantly, to television, becoming close friends with directors and actors such as James Cameron, Bill Paxton, Ed Harris, and others.
Most of the narrative focuses on Henriksen’s method of embodying the characters he portrays and often breathing life into them by going off script and improvising lines that he feels would be more natural than what had been written. On many occasions, his directors were receptive, other times less so. Many pages are dedicated to his experiences making Aliens, The Right Stuff, and Pumpkinhead while an entire chapter is devoted to the arc of Frank Black, his leading character from the Chris Carter series, Millennium.
Frequent mention is made of Henriksen’s enjoyment of pottery as an art form. When filming on location domestically or overseas, he frequently sought out potters who were creating the most original work. At one point, Henriksen himself had created so many pieces that his wife prompted him to open an online shop.
Though he admits to making a string of low-budget films simply to pay the bills, Henriksen tried to find something redeeming in nearly every character he portrayed and to this day, the septuagenarian still enjoys learning and growing as an actor and exploring new concepts.
It should be noted that I acquired my signed hardcopy edition of Not Bad for a Human directly from Mr. Henriksen at Monster Mania convention in August 2011. In fact, we swapped books. I gave him a copy of my first novel, Testing the Prisoner, and we chatted briefly about independent publishing.