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Tuesday, July 6, 2004


Today The Continuum begins a series of stories on Alien vs. Predator -- the movie due on Aug. 13 from 20th Century Fox -- with coverage of a recent appearance by star Lance Henriksen at WonderCon.

Henriksen answered questions from both a Fox representative and fans. Following is an edited transcript.

Question: Can you talk about the connection the character in Alien vs. Predator has with a character in the earlier films?

Lance Henriksen: In a sense, this is a prequel to Alien and Aliens and all of that. My name in the movie is Charles Bishop Weyland. This time, I'm playing a billionaire who is dying. And he decides to have one last hurrah in his life and do something that is worthwhile.

So his satellite discovers a pyramid under the ice on an island, and I get this group together to check it out because I want to be remembered for something besides money. And we get there, and it's like stepping into the mouth of a crocodile without knowing it. That's where it begins, that's where it starts.

I think what Paul Anderson, the director, and I were talking about is that Bishop because sort of a tribute to Charles Bishop Weykabd, and I think it really works in the movie. And I'm grateful because I thought Bishop was put to bed. There were no more pieces left.

Question: What was it like returning to this world of Aliens?

Henriksen: So much has happened over those 15 years. When I saw Predator the first time, and I had already worked with Arnold (Schwarzenegger), I thought, "What a great movie." I was thrilled. And here we are, he's the governor, and I've moved on. (laughs). A lot has happened.

Also, the mindset of people has changed. Because anyone of you people sitting here today probably has a digital camera and maybe one of you will make a movie that's dear to you, close to your heart, and you'll be in the business because you did it. Anyone can make a movie now. You can use your Mac, and edit it. It's a fantastic thing. New minds, new ideas and new work.

So here we are, making Alien vs. Predator after all that history, 15 years of history. And Paul Anderson (director) really pulled it off. There's a lot there and you better have a seat belt. You better see it with somebody. You might even need an airbag. The only thing that's going to be missing is the smells; the rest is all going to be there.

Question: How much CGI is used?

Henriksen: When we did Aliens, there wasn't CGI being used, really, so everything was practical. Jim Cameron used every trick in the book, from little popping arrows, all kinds of things.

What Paul did was made everything real up to the very second where you needed that little extra where you couldn't do it any other way. It's CG, but you'll never know. It's seamless. And it's also not depending on it. Because a lot of the times, I find CG that's badly used to be in a vacuum. And it kind of makes me bow out of the movie from watching it. But this is not the case with what we did. The schedule will tell you we were there for a long time, 4-1/2 months.

Question: How did you become involved?

Henriksen: It's a good story. Paul and I met at the Beverly Hills hotel in L.A. and we're sitting in the garden, and I wore my best shirt. And I said, "Paul, what's the movie about? What is it?"

And he literally spent two hours in describing every scene of the movie. And I thought, "Wow, man, this is a first." Usually, they give me 10 minutes and I got to show the goods and they rush me out the door. But this guy was so focused and wanted me to understand exactly where he was going, and he blew me away. Then Fox took two months to close the deal, and I was a nervous wreck. But it went very well. He's a very, very focused man. And I'm proud to be part of it, really.

Question: Can you compare Sanaa Lathan's character to the Sigourney Weaver role?

Henriksen: Everybody starts with that one. "What's it like, compared to Ripley?" Ripley isn't ever born yet when this movie takes place. Sanaa, the last I heard of her, was climbing a frozen waterfall in Northern Italy -- this is for real -- with a couple of ice axes.

In the film, she becomes a hero not because she wants to be but because she responds to this incredible thing that's going on. And this girl, Sanaa, has got it. She really worked hard and has a style of her own, that has nothing to do with the other film. Yet when you think of a lioness, there's nothing more ferocious. It's even more ferocious than the male lion. The matriarch, in some cases, is very powerful, and I think Sanaa gets that across. Just push her buttons the wrong way, and you find out.

Question: Were the physical parts of this as grueling as, say, Aliens and Alien 3?

Henriksen: When I first walked on the set it was a deja vu. It was really strange. The first Alien I saw, it was like no time had gone by. It was like meeting an old friend (laughs). You can't forget it's a dangerous old friend. You can make a pet out of an alligator.

I'm in good shape, and I can convince the director to let me sit down once in a while. I remember this one scene where Sanaa and Raoul (Bova) and I had to run up this gigantic set of stairs like 200 times. And we were dying -- and that was just the first day. And it just got heavier after that.

Question: Is this like a tribal war?

Henriksen: All I can is that what the title implies will be totally fulfilled.

Question: How do your characters compare?

Henriksen: Bishop, the synthetic person, was not real. So when he saw people, he marveled at life. He saw it maybe in a way clearer than we do because we're so used to it. And when the character is dying, there's a connection. The connection, you see with blinding light, the beauty of the things you're going to be leaving behind. So there's the connection, I think.

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