A Nocturnal Nomad: Near Dark With Lance Henriksen

Published on September 29th, 2011 in: Canadian Content, Conventions/Expos, Halloween, Horror, Movies, Science Fiction |

A film Henriksen actually did appear in, though just barely, was Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. “I was the fart-catcher,” he tells everyone, then elaborates: “You know the guy with the big part who goes (here he adopts a phony ‘actor’ voice and points out into the distance), ‘So, is that the sun setting?'” Then he mimes holding something up with his arms and puts on a goofy smile and subservient posture: “And I go, ‘Oh shit, yeah!’ And I catch the fart. ‘Oh, that’s a great line, and you’re so great’.” He blows a raspberry. “Oh, now I caught it.”

But there’s more to the story. “I was making scale plus ten for six months which is a lot of money, and I learned how to fly. My rationale was this character would know how to fly.” He laughs. “It’s a good excuse, even for the IRS.” He drops into a “serious” voice: “My character needed to know how to fly.” Then he adds, “I was going to jump out of the plane in a parachute and Spielberg sent people over there and said, ‘Lanc,e you’ve gone way over the limit. You know, flying is okay, but jumping out of a plane . . . you know, we might need you’.” Beat. “They never did . . . but they thought they might.”

lance and crouse2

So what about Near Dark? Henriksen praises director Kathryn Bigelow as “matriarchal,” detailing the tale of seeing her at an early screening of her 2008 film The Hurt Locker. “It was years and years ago that we did [Near Dark] and she still looked the same. I asked her, ‘Are you a vampire?’ and she just smiled. And I said, Ohhhh shit . . . ”

Henriksen and fellow actor Bill Paxton (who played Severen in the movie) were “obsessed” with where their characters came from. Henriksen explained the backstory he developed for Jesse Hooker: he was in the Southern Navy hundreds of years prior and after losing a battle at sea, he and the survivors drifted through the marshes until harpies started feeding on the dying. He didn’t call Jesse, Severen, or the other characters “vampires,” because “you can’t play a vampire; you only play a nocturnal nomad that is thinning the herd. . . ” At another point he says, “I hate Twilight, man” and the crowd applauds and cheers. Yet he praises 30 Days of Night, saying, “it tested my masculinity.”

Back to Near Dark: before they started filming, Henriksen picked up a hitchhiker who, at about 220 pounds, was much bigger than he was. “I said to him (adopts creepy Jesse Hooker voice), ‘Roll me a cigarette’.” So he rolls the cigarette and he gives it to me, but it looked like shit so I threw it out the window, ‘What the fuck is that?’

“And he’s looking at me like (warbly voice), ‘What?’ And I said, ‘Try it again. Put some mood music on.’ I’m ordering him all over the fucking place. . . . And I said, ‘What kinda music is that? It’s shit, turn that shit off.’ I take one puff and I go (spits), ‘Oh fuck this.’ He’s so nervous because of my staring at him . . . like he was a meal . . . ‘I wonder if I should take his face, his ear, what do I do? Do I rip his throat out?’ You know all those thoughts were going through my head, but in an artistic way.” Everyone laughs hysterically.

When they finally approached some lights, the hitchhiker pointed them out and said, “That’s where I get out. That’s where I’m going.” So they pulled over and there was no one around. Feeling bad, Henriksen asked him why he was hitchhiking and he replied, “Well, I’m broke.” Henriksen: “I took all the money I had in my left pocket (I had more in my right pocket) and gave him the money . . . I felt so guilty, for torturing this bastard for probably 70 miles, 70 miles of real Jesse Hooker horseshit. And so that was my voyage to go to work.”

lance photo from interview
Photo from NJ.com

At the end of the night, Lance Henriksen addressed us all and said, “I’m grateful that you saw [Near Dark] and enjoyed it. Let’s leave each other wanting.” Based on his discussion of a potential Near Dark prequel in comic form, we are definitely wanting more. According to him, Dark Horse asked him to write a comic after several comic artists contributed illustrations to Not Bad For A Human. Since he and Bill Paxton started writing a prequel script “the minute we finished shooting” Near Dark because they were “so enamored with each other and the movie,” this could be excellent. Henriksen says he has asked Kathryn Bigelow for her blessing.

I’ve tried to give a taste of what it was like to watch and listen to Lance Henriksen tell stories, but it’s hard to capture it in words on a computer screen, so there is much I’ve omitted. You can watch some clips of the event on YouTube here (thank you Vandelay77!), but I’m going to guess it’s also worth it to check out Not Bad For A Human.

The evening could be summed up, however, by Richard Crouse’s opening quote from the book, which was Henriksen’s assessment of his decision to turn down that $50,000 voice over job. “They probably thought, ‘This guy is an eccentric fuck.’ And they were right.”

For more on Lance Henriksen, please check out his Blog, Not Bad For A Human.

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One Response to “A Nocturnal Nomad: Near Dark With Lance Henriksen”

  1. Popshifter » The Killing Floor: What Happened At Rue Morgue Festival Of Fear 2011:
    October 1st, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    […] schedule of events. This year they presented a Near Dark screening with Lance Henriksen (read more here), a Q&A with Tom Savini (read more here), a 30th Anniversary cast and crew reunion for My […]

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