EXCLUSIVE: BacktoFRANKBLACK interviews LANCE HENRIKSEN

PART ONE: Man In BLACK

BacktoFrankBlack.com was thrilled when Frank Black himself, Lance Henriksen, offered an exclusive interview on behalf of the campaign. We were very fortunate to get this opportunity on Thanksgiving day to speak to the actor on a variety of topics. In this first part of the interview, Lance talks about Millennium, its potential future and the work that went into creating Frank Black.

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BACKTOFRANKBLACK: Do you think the return of Frank Black is a possibility? Are you still interested in playing Frank again - you were very optimistic at the conventions this past year.

LANCE HENRKISEN: Yeah, I know, I would absolutely love to do it and I really think it is a possibility, but it's really up to Frank Spotnitz and Chris Carter.

BTFB: If Frank Black and Millennium returned in some form, what would be your preference in the form it would return and why?

LANCE: A movie would be very different. With a movie you have an end in sight - you can gear your energy for it, but when you have a [TV] series that goes on for ten and a half months - there is no way to really have that "end in sight" because you know you'll be coming back next year. It's very tiring.

BTFB: So would a movie be ideal?

LANCE: Yeah. Ideally.

BTFB: Aside from Millennium your career has been movie orientated. Comparatively you've not focused much on television.

LANCE: No, not very often. The reason I've always believed it [Millennium] should be a movie on the big screen or a channel like HBO is you have more freedom with language and the things that can happen. You are allowed to talk about more and that's more natural to me as opposed to being kind of the sanitized guy. I'm not very good at that.

BTFB: Yes, it could be said your movies do not reflect a "sanitized" film career!

LANCE: [laughs] No I don't go for it. I've tried everything you can try in films and having fun, and it's a wonderful expression. To be locked into a thing like TV is really tough - I don't mean to whinge about it, believe me, I loved every minute of Millennium, but it was tiring... it was like.. despair, it was so tiring. I was so tired, but everyone in TV has felt that. I don't feel very special about it.

BTFB: Both yourself and Chris Carter spoke candidly about the concerns over the stylistic and narrative changes to season two on the Millennium box-set - it would be fair to say that the comments have energized the issue of the second season within fandom - would you mind speaking a little further on your feelings towards the second season?

LANCE: Well, it wasn't hated! We felt the second season was subversive to the show. The first thing that happened was when Glen Morgan and James Wong put out a t-shirt saying "98% less serial killer"! What? The whole premise of the show was solving crimes that were almost impossible to solve - we felt it was subversive in a real way!

Remember, I couldn't watch the show while I was doing it! I couldn't - I didn't have the time. I didn't see the shows themselves until the box-sets were coming out. As I got deeper into season two, I felt that the writers were trying out some very unusual work - some very strange events! I started to see one or two of the episodes were very creative! That took the sting out of my original feelings.

BTFB: Can I ask you about Frank's gift? It's another fan favorite for debate! Chris has said on the DVD it was originally intended in season one to be simply a depiction of Frank's intuition, yet even in season one there is a flavor of something more mystical going on. Were you briefed on this possibility?

LANCE: Well let me say this: you know how a great chess player works, right? They study, they study, they study - they know all the moves of different great chess players? I always felt Frank Black had morphed into a person who put abstract loose ends together in his head in a way that other people couldn't. He could take threads of an idea and they would suddenly appear to him almost a linear story. In other words, walking into a room he would see pieces of a puzzle like a great chess player and he would string them together. And that's what I always thought - that the Gift was intellect and intuition - not psychic. I don't know how you would describe a psychic actually - I couldn't describe one - except a gift from God, like Moses talking to him or a luminary or some stuff.

To me, it was something much more.. kind of pragmatic. I always felt Chris understood that I didn't want to judge anybody. I didn't want Frank Black to be a judge or a puritan who sat on the edge of "this is good/bad". No Gift would work in your brain if you had judgments going on. The Gift was only about discovering the intent and the function of what was happening.

BTFB: Do you think giving Frank this non-judgmental aspect to his personality has helped make the character so unique and iconic?

LANCE: Right, because I read all the books on what different kinds of serial killers there are and the things they go through, how they cover their tracks and all these things. I always felt the "art" that would come out of this is in the impartial acceptance. In a way it's like raising a child - you don't ever want to break the self-esteem of a child, you want to nourish and nurture them, right? In a sense, in pursuing someone doing terrible things you really want to know why to stop them from happening again. Because these people are not well, they're really not well.

BTFB: This seems to be what makes Frank so internationally compelling, he is a man not looking for justice through revenge, but simply to stop people doing horrible things.

LANCE: Right, exactly, you do know they have to be put away, but that's somebody else's job - that's not his [Frank's] job, his life. There is a great phrase, and the phrase is "I don't really like religion so much because it's for people who are afraid to go to hell, a spirituality is for a person who have already been there." And I think that's more about what Frank Black is - he's already been there.

In fact we based it [Millennium] on a man who actually was working on over a 100 cases and he had a stroke and almost died. They found him in the hotel room and he was almost dead. And he came back, he was fine after they got him back on his feet - but once you come that close it changes you.

Part two of this interview will be posted in the next couple of weeks. Watch this blog for more updates or join the BACKTOFRANKBLACK mailing list for regular updates.

In the second part of this exclusive interview, Lance speaks more on his role as Frank, the character's role in the show and more on the campaign!

Please support Lance's kind contributions by supporting the campaign to the full and sending a letter to FOX - more details here!

2 Responses to "EXCLUSIVE: BacktoFRANKBLACK interviews LANCE HENRIKSEN"

John Kenneth Muir said... December 13, 2008 at 4:31 AM

Great interview with Mr. Henriksen. Terrific job! Looking forward to Part 2.

muldfeld said... December 17, 2008 at 12:51 AM

Thanks very much for doing this. Although I preferred Season 2 in high school, upon rewatching the series on DVD I realize how bad it was and how incredibly subtle and beautiful the character of Frank Black was in Season 1.

Season 2's main problem had to do with Morgan and Wong's approach to story. While Chris Carter and others left some ambiguity, Morgan and Wong's work, even on The X-Files, contained the notion that one could understand the entire world; that a plot could be tied up neatly and with moral simplicity. The once subtle characters collapsed in Season 2 into melodrama and extreme behavior. Frank Black's wife was so extreme in her convictions that she separates from Frank out of disgust that he killed the man trying to kill them both; this was such simplistic characterization.

Peter Watts and the Millennium group were similar to the "Lost"-type dichotomy of Terry O'Quinn's other character, John Locke. He becomes a man of all-encompassing faith; there's no practicality that is common to all human nature.

Kristen Cloak portrayed an irritatingly, self-consciously "moving" character who was always on the edge of tears.

The show just became a conspiratorial farce. Even the Polariod man made no sense in terms of motives.

Any notion that there is both good and evil in all of us -- which was at the root of the show's sympathetic and realistic portrayal of serial killers was gone.

And the neo-Nazi plot in "Owls" and "Roosters" was just preposterous.

The only stuff that was worth a damn in Season 2 were the Christmas episode by a couple of women writers; Darin Morgan's episodes, and the amazing "The Mikado" by Michael Perry, which was very much along the lines of Season 1.

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