Hey Fiends! I have yet another amazing interview for you to check out. . maybe under the warm covers as you protect yourselves from the frigid air of the night and all of the creatures lurking around you. I would love the pleasure of introducing you all to one of my favorite actors of all time, and it was such an honor for me to have the chance to speak with him as well. I recall being an extremely tiny terror when I first viewed Jame’s Cameron’s sequel, ALIENS. I absolutely loved the concept even then. . action. . space marines. . awesome creatures. . more action, it was incredible to me even then. But then the night crept in, and the Geiger created creatures mostly crept into my thoughts. . on my walls. . my ceiling as I lay in my bed. Mostly. Haha! I was absolutely enamored with this film that scared me out of my wits at the same time.
But just like we were supposed to love and look up to “heroes” like Chuck Norris, John Rambo, or even Mr. T as children. . I saw something powerful in the character, Corporal Dwayne Hicks. He was the standout for me. . and of course Sigourney. . but Dwayne rocked my little world! He was a caring, intelligent badass who would only give in when the mission was finished. He was what every soldier should be. Then, in a strange order I watched Terminator for the first time. I was a little bit older by then and perhaps maybe a little bit wiser. . and the character of Kyle Reese blew my young mind yet again! I honestly thought that the actor playing in these films was truly a goddamn warrior in his real life. Of course, if you have not guessed already, I am talking about the awesome Michael Biehn!
The fact that I had a chance to speak to this man is just absolutely a high mark in my career. . as well my entire existence on this planet. And it’s yet another thing to call Michael and his amazing wife, Jennifer Blanc true friends. Someone wake me, really! Alright, so now that you know who this interview focuses on, let’s attend yet another Science Fiction Picture Show shall we? I spoke to Michael about his thoughts and stories about working with James Cameron, his unnecessary speed bumps, and of course, his true return to the action film, the postapocalyptic thriller, The Divide as well as his badass nod to the grind house genre, the self directed, self produced labor- of- love, The Victim, which also stars his significant other and co- producer, Jennifer as well as the killer Scream Queen, Danielle Harris.
Delamorte: You were of course raised in Lake Havasu in your later years. So could you tell me, did you have the feeling at an early age that you wanted to be an actor or had the idea evolved only as you became much older?
Michael: No. No. About the time I was fourteen I moved to Lake Havasu, Arizona. When I was living in Nebraska, to keep us all out of trouble my parents put us into after school programs like sports and things like that. Then I also got into drama. . but it was for the girls. . it was always for the girls for me. (Laughs)The Dean at the Drama Department gave me a scholarship for college. So even though college was not really something I planned to do. . I went anyway. I attended college from 1974. . to 1974 practically. (Laughs again)I attended the University Of Arizona but I didn’t really want to do any work.
When I was in high school I was kind of the ADHD kid. . I always cheated, I only wanted to play football, and talk to girls. So in college, right away I attended a Fraternity. . for the girls, of course. I just partied alot. And in the meantime I attended a small drama class. . Drama 101 and whatnot. I just did not do well in college so I left after a year or so. My mother was a lawyer, dad a doctor, my brother a doctor so I didn’t want to come back with my tail between my legs about failing college so I told my parents that I was going to move to Los Angeles to become an actor. So, I worked small jobs, I saved what little money I earned, and ended up finally doing it. Basically, I got started because of my flunk out of college, and I basically had no real idea what the f*ck I was doing.
Delamorte: You of course played Kyle Reese in James Cameron’s 1984 release, The Terminator. Could you tell me what the audition process was like, and when the film had wrapped did you automatically think to yourself that the film was going to be the well well received box- office monster it would become?
Michael: Yeah, you know, well it basically was like any other audition. I went to an audition with Gayle Anne Herd and of course James in the room, and around that time I had just completed another audition for Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. I couldn’t get my southern accent for the role to go away. So, when I went in they said that they did not want someone “regional”. And my agent said right away. “what are you talking about? “(Laughs) So I got the chance to audition again, read and got the role. As far as the movie itself, I read the script, and the story was pretty good.
When I got the part, Arnold Schwarzenegger was not known as an actor. He was a well- renowned bodybuilder and my actor friends kind of snickered at me, believe it or not. But Arnold was opted to act in Conan 2. So while he was off, James took me to his house and started to show me pictures of The Terminator, the robot and everything. Then I began to feel a little bit better about everything. James and I were hanging out all of the time. We shot off guns, James has a huge arsenal and he even taught me how to hot wire f*cking cars. (Laughs again)When I finished, I thought we had a movie I wouldn’t be embarrassed about. Arnold of course became a star and it was just a great, great movie! But I was pissed because Arnold got most of the press for the movie, and I had most of the acting in it. I was really one of the main characters. I just thought that was bullsh*t.
To give you an example, Arnold had really only one line, “I’ll be back”, right? And he took all of the publicity for that. But I loved working on the movie and I loved working with Linda. . Linda Hamilton. I fell in love with her immediately, had such a thing for her but nothing happened. . we were both married. But who knew that this movie about a robot from the future trying to kill a girl working in a hamburger joint would work? But of course it definitely did. It’s a huge franchise now and I’m proud to be a part of it.
Delamorte: You then played Corporal Dwayne Hicks in 1986’s ALIENS. . one of my childhood heroes by the way. (Laughs)So tell me, even though you had acted in a film for James before, were you chosen for this role immediately or was it still an audition situation to receive the part?
Michael: No. I actually was not. I was a little disappointed because of that. Bill Paxton was in it, of course, and we were always really great friends. We played together in The Terminator, he had a small part as a punk and I did another role with him also. So I was pissed when I wasn’t chosen. Actually, Hicks was supposed to be given to James Remar, you know, from The Warriors and everything. He’s a great actor. But if you look at the armor I wear in the movie, I have this f*cking heart and a lock on my chest. Well, that was Remar’s idea. Everyone else got to design their armor. I f*cking had to wear Remar’s armor, kind of disappointing. But around that time, Stan Winston and James were working hand in hand together coming up with all of this amazing stuff. I had such a great time running around in those amazing sets, and of course the aliens themselves were incredible to look at. The movie actually had a very modest opening in the beginning, it got beat out by The Karate Kid Part 2, I remember. (Laughs)But it was a movie I’m definitely proud to have been in.
Delamorte:You played in yet another James Cameron film, 1986’s The Abyss as Hiram Coffy. In my research it said that the studio lobbied intensely to get you a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Why do you feel the Academy denied your place? Which is total bullsh*t by the way!
Michael: Oh. You know, I don’t know. I don’t even remember who the other Supporting Actors were that year. But the studios really pulled for me to basically become nominated for publicity, it would have definitely helped out the movie. They put alot of magazine ad outs and everything. But no. It never happened. I mean the movie itself was nominated for like. . oh, I don’t know. . like fourteen nominations, I think. So it did really well. You know, I never go to the Academy Awards. I don’t think I would ever really go unless I was nominated.
Delamorte: After Aliens, Dwayne Hicks was supposed to become the main character of the series. . which would have been incredible for me! Could you tell me why this did not come to be?
Michael:I don’t know. They just wrote the script and decided to write Hicks out! I was working with Raphael DeLaurentis at the time whose father just passed of course, Dino, I definitely give her my condolences. She’s a great girl. So before Alien 3 was filmed, she walked into the studio and saw a piece of me with an alien popping out of my chest. She told me and I was so pissed off. I thought that Hicks definitely shouldn’t have went out that way. It was probably the most disappointing point in my career not being in the whole franchise. I mean, he was an important character, and something obviously was going on with me and Sigourney, there was so much to add to him. So what happened was FOX had asked me again and again to use my picture, and for the permission rights I got a good bit of change. (Laughs)At least half of what I got for ALIENS. That’s what I get for my likeness in Alien 3, but still a very disappointing moment for me.
Delamorte: You have played a soldier in film about ten times or so. So tell me why do you think you always get chosen for a military character?
Michael: Well, I think it was kind of a classic case of typecasting. Terminator. . I was a warrior. . ALIENS. . I was a warrior in that. Navy Seals. . I was a warrior in that. And I have a huge respect for the guys in the military even though I would never have the balls to do what they all do. (Laughs)But for some reason I had the look that they wanted. Michael Biehn the actor and Michael Biehn the person are two different people. One’s more of a pacifist. (Laughs again)In the meantime, I did different stuff but those movies didn’t do well. They didn’t want me to do that kind of stuff, they always wanted me to do action. I did Seventh Sign with Demi Moore. . it failed. I did Shallow Grave. . it failed. Nothing else that I did was received and people just thought I was only good when I was working with James. I don’t consider myself to be a huge movie star. When I think of that I think of Tom Cruise. . or Nic Cage. . not someone like me. I’m more of a blue collar actor. But yeah, who knows why I always got the warrior part. Then I did The Rock and that did really well. It’s just something about me playing a soldier in action films.
Delamorte: Now, I want to ask you some questions about your new films, The Victim and The Divide. And I have to tell you I am really f*cking excited to see you in both. Let’s start with The Victim. I of course talked to your significant other, Jennifer about her producing duties as well as her starring role. You not only act but you also wear the hat of director as well. So tell me how did this idea for you directing come to be and did you actually enjoy it?
Michael: I of course did Grindhouse with Robert Rodriguez. So much fun to do! I had the greatest time on that. The atmosphere was just like a grindhouse film, it was very laid back. Robert used to stop during takes and sit there with his guitar trying to come up with tracks for the movie and everything. We always had a great f*cking time! But when I worked for Rodriguez, Cameron, and even Friedkin, I was always allowed to make rewrites on their script. And it always felt so good to take a script from a master like Cameron, and put my different thoughts on it. (Laughs)They also told me when I was working with each of them that I should definitely do something of my own.
So, I decided that I wanted to do something finally. But I wanted to do something in tribute to working with Robert, and Robert himself. So I just wanted something with sex, violence, hot chicks, and a serial killer. (Laughs again)Reed Lackey had written a novel but it was more like a novella. you know. He wanted to work with me, and I remember he wanted to do a movie about Burt Lancaster. But, we didn’t have the money so we decided to work on The Victim together. I started writing a screenplay and trying to give it a bit of a grindhouse feel. Then we had four weeks of pre-production. That meant casting, that meant getting the equipment and all of it. We shot that entire thing in eleven f*cking days.
Delamorte: Eleven days? Holy sh*t! (Laughs)
Michael: Yeah, eleven days. But we love it and it has all of the grindhouse elements like something in the sixties. Like Vic Morrow in Route 66. (Laughs)I got some really great deals on the film. I got a great cinematographer, he lit the movie and had previously worked with David Lynch. I think I got really good performances from Reed, from Danielle, and from Jennifer of course. Some of the other actors were a little bit green at first, but I just worked with them and tried to get them up to their best ability. I’m really happy with the performances.
Delamorte:So tell me what is your marketing campaign for The Victim looking like? Is it going to be a massive amount of promotion to try to grab people’s attention?
Michael: We have a company called DLT working with us. They started doing graphic design work and movie posters, and whatnot. Now they do posters for Cameron and Spielberg, and they also did the huge promotional campaign for Grindhouse. My friend Rick actually made the logo for Spielberg, the kid on the moon with the fishing pole, you know, that one? Well, DLT became a three floor company in the CNN building and they are massive now. So these guys are going to create our website and everything else. I think they are incredible designers, and I think their work will definitely help us get the movie out there. But we’re definitely not taking ourselves seriously with this. Actually, as the movie starts, I want to have a title thing that says This Is Not Based On True Events. (Laughs)You know, that kind of thing. It’s kind of tongue in cheek but it’s also a very taut thriller. It’s gritty, it’s beautifully shot, I think it’s going to be great. And the soundtrack is going to be kind of like Grind house, a Lynnrd Skynnrd- like slide guitar, like Robert Rodriguez stuff.
Delamorte: Tell me a little about your character Kyle in the film. And I hope this isn’t a stupid question but was that name in any way a nod to one of your own personal favorite characters to play, Kyle Reese?
Michael: (Laughs)Actually the character in the original screenplay was Kyle. His name was originally Kyle Lamado who was based on the last name of my agent who had just died. That was really a difficult thing for me to deal with.
Delamorte: I’m really sorry to hear that. So would you say he’s a terrible guy in the film. . perhaps even dangerous?
Michael: No, I wouldn’t say he was. He is a guy who has been in trouble in the past. He’s been to jail and he’s basically on parole. He moves into a cabin very far away from everything. He was originally the kind of guy you would see in a bar and then he would say something to you like, “Hey! What the f*ck are you looking at? ! “And then try to beat your ass for no reason. But, he goes away and really tries to change his outlook. He starts reading things like the Dalai Llama, starts reading The Bible. Then of course, Jennifer knocks on the door yelling, “Help! Help! “(Laughs)And it’s all downhill from there man.
So of course he lets this hot woman in not knowing the cops are after her. He then of course starts falling for her, and decides he wants to help her. He gets caught up in a murder and a situation with two corrupt cops. One of these guys is like a smarmy. . Elliott Spitzer type. If you had the goods on Elliott Spitzer during the time of his New York thing. . you wouldn’t really be able to do anything. And that’s how this cop is. But Kyle is not a serial killer at all. I think he was in prison for some kind of assault. But it was more something along the lines of self defense that went wrong. But yeah, he’s definitely prone to violence, but he’s not a violent man unless absolutely necessary.
Delamorte: You also have a post- apocalyptic film called The Divide which I am really pumped about. Could you tell my readers who maybe don’t know a little about that film?
Michael: Well, The Divide is basically about a guy who owns a bomb shelter in an apartment building he runs. He was a firefighter during 9/11, and he kind of fell off the deep end after that. He’s racist against Muslim people and stuff, loses his family, loses his job, and kind of becomes this hermit. He was always afraid of something like September 11th happening again so he builds this huge shelter in the basement of the apartment building where he’s a super.
So when it does happen again, people try to start duct taping the windows and everything, but then of course they begin running out of food and all their other necessary supplies. So they try to get into the shelter that I built. And I let a few in who begin complaining about the conditions they’re in. So yeah, my character becomes a bit of a prick. But you know, could you blame him? (Laughs)It’s his f*cking shelter, he let them come in there! Then later in the movie, a group of guys in these protective suits, you know, to protect themselves from nuclear debris? Well, we don’t know who. . or even what they are first. They lock us into the shelter by sealing the door. Then all f*cking hell breaks loose, and the people inside really begin to change. To show a worse side of themselves. It’s just f*cking incredible and I am so happy and proud to be a part of it. I really am, man.
Delamorte: And could you let my readers know who The Divide’s director is?
Michael: We have a French director who of course did FRONTIER(S). . Xavier Gens. Xavier also directed HITMAN. He has a very stylized way of filmmaking and it’s very f*cking cool looking. The movie becomes this mess of rape, murder, and pillaging. . it’s all of this stuff that begins to happen. It’s very. . very stylish and there is alot of action throughout. Lauren German is so good. Rosanna. . Arquette of course, who I first read the The Terminator script with, she was of course amazing. Milo from Heroes. . but you have never seen him in a role like this. . he’s so great in this also. I would say a dream cast for this picture. Everybody got to work with the writers. They were very flexible, they were all just so great to work with. It’s just been a great year for me, I’m on cloud nine, definitely.
Delamorte: That sound so damn awesome! So tell me, would you consider The Divide to be a horror film and if so do you enjoy the horror genre? I mean you were in Grindhouse, and Sheriff Hague was yet another awesome character.
Michael: I. . it’s hard to say! It’s psychological horror but it’s not like Saw, not like Halloween. It’s not like your classic cut em’ up gory horror film. . it’s definitely more of a possible event. And yeah, I love the horror genre. To get to put your character in a bizarre situation, I think it’s great! I think both The Victim and The Divide are both very suspenseful though. The Victim is a great thriller even though it’s supposed to also be this fun thing to watch. And The Divide, Xavier’s movie, has some very intense scenes, some brutal scenes, scenes that will kick your balls into your throat visually(Laughs)But these movies are both pieces I am very proud of.
Delamorte: Could you let myself and my readers know when we can see The Victim and The Divide?
Michael: Well, I don’t know really. The Divide was entered at Sundance, so it hasn’t really been bought by a studio as of yet. And The Victim we will probably play at a Midnight Madness Show during South By Southwest. But I would have to say mid to late next year for both. Yeah. . mid to late next year. (Laughs)
Delamorte: You have no idea what an honor it was to speak with someone I have been a huge fan since. . basically half of my childhood(Laughs)
Michael: Hey! It’s been really great talking to you too. I can’t wait to read it.
Well, there you have it! An incredible interview with someone I have thought of as a screen legend for an extremely long time. Thank you so much Michael for allowing me to delve into your amazing film history and for just being so goddamn cool. You can see The Victim and The Divide when they are released sometime next year! You can show your support for The Victim by visiting the official site which is GRINDHOUSETHE VICTIM.COM.
Let’s try to rally to place a great and fun thriller into theaters. I loved Hell Ride and of course Planet Terror, and Machete and this concept reminds me of that feel. But they never got the chance. . let’s not let the same thing happen to Michael, Jennifer, and Danielle and anyone else who broke their ass on The Victim. So there you are, Maniacs. I will soon have more for you including my talk with the horror punk hellcat, Linnea Quigley of Return Of The Living Dead and the original Night Of The Demons! And of course my first column for the site. Hope you dig that also. You can also see my very own torture chamber, Delamorte’s Dungeon Of Deadly Delights on Facebook. . 900 friends and 8, 000 daily hits. . it’s the only place where pain and punishment can be enjoyable! Well, off to the crypt to type away. . so till’ we congregate again. . remember my motto. . the only thing that can impale your dreams is your own negativity. Scare ya later, Fiend Club!
Interview: Michael Biehn (The Victim, The Divide)