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Aliens & more with Michael Biehn
December 30, 2018 Chris Gordon

Michael Biehn rejoined me where we first met 2 years to the day, prior to Wales Comicon, at his hotel with his lovely wife Jennifer Blanc-Biehn. We chat about their independent film company and recent films, his role in the upcoming series Curfew, the fact that James Cameron once again owns the rights to Terminator franchise and the excitement to see what he does with it, as well as Aliens, Michael shares his memories of Bill Paxton and much more! We even got interrupted for 30 minutes by the Backstreet Boys!! (Although this has been edited out)

Episode Transcript

Speaker 1:0:00Hi, it's Michael Mann. I'm here with Chris Gordon.

Speaker 2:0:03Yeah, the

Speaker 1:0:48everyone. I have the honor and the privilege and yeah, definitely the honor of Michael Bean and Hellblazer beer. So good evening Michael. You are. Good evening. How are you? I'm great, thank you. It's nice to be in person again. I think you did actually say the other day. You were my first face to face interview I'd ever done. I've done them on skype, but the first time we'd actually met and that was pretty much two years ago today. This weekend. I. congratulations on your success. Thank you. I'm hoping it goes up moreover. Yep. So welcome back and thank you two years. It's been busy. I've noticed we both in your production of your blank been productions and also acting yourself. So block blank. Sorry.

Speaker 3:1:31Yeah, I, you know, uh, came over here. It was may. Then there's a new show that's coming out called curfew at A. I worked on that. I think that is, I think it's going to be a really, really awesome. So yeah, and I didn't have much to do, but what I did was kind of a story inside of a story and it was a really good character. What was the name of the character?

Speaker 1:2:01I was thinking I was really interested in intriguing name. Yeah,

Speaker 3:2:05yeah. Road Roadkill, Jim. And uh, I've been kind of, you know, we have a three year old son and uh, especially with my twins, my older boys who are now 33 united really get a chance that much to spend as much time as I as I could and I just, I kind of have different priorities in life now. So work wise, I um, you know, when you look at my, you know, my resume and you look at this stuff that I've done, like there's no reason for me to be um, you know, go down and do like 10 episodes of the walking dead or you know what I mean? It just, it doesn't really make any sense for me to be away from my family. The rest of my kids were in la too. And, uh, so it's gotta be something, something kind of special that, uh, comes along and, you know, uh, the production company thing, you know, I think it's been interesting and uh, you know, we, we, you know, we started with the victim, we started with the victim and for me, uh, we have a lot of, you know, we're able to introduce filmmaking too, a lot of young people, kind of Roger Corman like so they get an opportunity to work in a business and, you know, they're not getting paid anything.

Speaker 3:3:24But, uh, as it turns out, we're not getting paid anything either, you know. And uh, one of the things that is discouraging about independent filmmaking is the distributors, you know, I mean, they just like, they just eat up the money somehow. And that always seemed to be like empty handed. He goes onto the big studios, goes on at a know in television series, you know, basically people just stealing your money. But you have all these young kids that are working from us, nothing. And you're saying, well, listen, if we get some money back, here's your share. You know. And, uh, a lot of people that do do some work but are willing to come in and work for you and then, you know, when the, when the movie make some money back, we're able to give them some of that and you know, if you want to get rich, don't make independent films, you know. And uh, not north south, you really got to really kind of love. That's kind of a young person's game. If you asked me, I'd been around. I mean I've been doing this for like 45 years. Yeah. So recent releases if you want, we have altered perceptions, Cortez and um, we have, she rises during Angus macfadyen and he wrote it and there's two other films and they can all be found on Amazon. They just released in the last month to three months.

Speaker 1:4:51Fantastic. Thank you. Jen. I know what you're saying about the Internet. I mean a lot of the, a lot of the conversations that have recently with the independent British independent movies circuit and there's some, I actually prefer independent film and a lot of in Hollywood blockbusters, you can't deny the obviously the spectacular ism of it, but what I always talk to with filmmakers from the independent circuit is the full of heart. Like you've just explained that it's because people want to do them. It's a project that everybody involved really wants to do and obviously making money at the end of it's a fantastic thing, but if it didn't it you've got the passion in that film that you've made something that you really, really wanted to make and that shines through in the film. I think a lot more because everybody chips in. Everybody has to, you know. I mean I've, I've talked to several people. Were the lead actors have also been Carlton Cards in the set around in the back?

Speaker 3:5:44No, I mean this was not really like a low budget film in terms of low budget films these days, but in the day, the first terminator was a low budget film. Now it was six and a half million dollars, but back then that was a low budget movie. And um, you know, if I, you know, I, I might be biased or whatever, but, you know, I think it's the best out of all five that they'd done. What's great now is that, um, everybody loves to youtube because of all the action and everything, but I just think that the heart of that story and the love story and everything is just really, really great thing that's going on now with terminator. Every, everybody that listens to you or a reads, um, should know that, like Jim Cameron, who's got the rights back now and uh, so he's made one with.

Speaker 3:6:42And I think they just wrap that in that movie is, I guarantee you, you know, it's just all of a sudden we're going to have like great terminators again because Jim Cameron now owns the Indian Jay. He just never misses. He never, never, ever missed it. And so I'm sure that that's going to be great. And then he's working with a Robert Rodriguez and uh, he's uh, he's got a battle angel coming out and uh, Robert is also an amazingly talented, amazingly talented guy and a battle angel, which I'll tell you a story, quick story, it's like, uh, about 15 years ago, I was in the Fox lot and you know, going in for some meeting or interview or something. And Jim Cameron hurt. I was on the lot and his offices there. And he said, Michael, why don't you come by the office, say hi. I know, yeah, sure, I'll come by, come by, and we're sitting around.

Speaker 3:7:41And uh, so I said, well, this was right after the titanic. And I said, okay, Jim, when he just won best picture, best director, whatever that thing, you know, one and made more money than any of the movie in the history of movies. So what are you going to do now? And uh, he opens his doors up and he pulls out two scripts. One was called battle angel and the other one was called Avatar. And this is 15 years ago when he system. So I, I go, well, which one are you going to do? He goes, I have to wait for the technology to catch up to my vision the way I want these movies made. So he basically didn't make another commercial big budget film for 10 years while that technology caught up, he was off doing all the underwater a of I'm going down filming like underwater, going down to such such depths would and, and, and he had lights and cameras, like they're picking up like a fish and things that nobody's ever seen.

Speaker 3:8:56It's discovered so much discoveries I made. Yeah. And uh, so, so I mean, but just that kind of mindset that he knew that he was going to have to wait to do it. And in between he did that and then 10 years later it does have a own, of course it makes more money than any of the movie in the history of film. And now it's, you know, and now it's, I think there are, they finished two and three. They're working. Maybe I'm four and five even. And, you know, it's an amazing, you know, he, he's got, he's got the avatar franchise that Terminator Franchise back the battle Angel. I mean, when I went online and looked at that, um, I think, I don't think he's releasing it February now, but I went online and I looked at that. I'm like, this looks really exciting, like nothing I've seen for a long time, you know, I mean the marvel movies are like, tomorrow we'll movies but this slip intense.

Speaker 3:9:56So, um, but he doesn't have a very unique vision of. Yeah. And he's working with Robert too. And Robert is about it. Used to talk to Jim about Robert and Robert and Jim said, you know, the, the thing that's brilliant about Robert and Jim throws around that were brilliant and very often you know, is that he said, Robert just doesn't understand that you can't do something. Just didn't. It just doesn't even enter his mind that he can't do it. So it just somehow plows thrown in and get stuff done. You know, if you look at early in his early in his career and his book and everything, you know, rebel without rebel, without a clue. Great. Interesting. Both of them are just like fantastic filmmakers. Definitely. And it's just sitting here listening to you just took them out, you know, you can't, you with conversations with Jim Cameron when you speak to him.

Speaker 3:10:47I was just like, wow. Well I still see him quite a bit because we, uh, we work out together and when I feel like getting up at, you know, a very, very early time, he works out 5:00 in the morning and he finishes or works out at quarter of five in the morning, finishes at quarter of six, takes a shower and then goes to work at six in the morning and then it works all day. And then that's kind of guy he is, that's the Kinda guy he's always been. And uh, so, uh, it's kind of fun to be around him. But as far as I mentioned, when you got the tree, somehow I feel like if aliens ever gets made and if they ever do another one, somehow it's gonna. It's gonna have to come through him because, um, I, you know, uh, Neill camp script, I know that Keith read and said that he likes, so if you can turn the terminator around, which dropped like 90 percent in its first weekend or what second weekend if it didn't turn the terminator franchise around.

Speaker 3:11:49I think you can do the same thing with, uh, with, with uh, aliens, but, you know, uh, you know, we'll see. We'll see. But he's like, to me, he's a very young and very, uh, uh, you know, healthy and, and still, he has the same energy he had when he was, you know, 35 years old and you know, as I have a feeling he's just going to be his own studio. He just really, you know, he's now what other people direct things that he's written, you know. And of course he's never, he's never directed anything to name but else's ever written. So if I was a studio, I would spilborghs kind of like that decade beforehand or whatever, and so he's getting a little older, but you know, I would try to hook up with Jim and I would give him any projects, say, you know, see if you can turn this around and see.

Speaker 3:12:38Yeah, it's called the midas touch. Everything you don't see, I'd love to sit back with another idea. Ends as well. I was going to ask you about that because we took two years ago. We spoke about that too much into that because obviously that's something we've seen before. But here's the thing about it is that, uh, you know, basically they were going forward with it and um, you know, basically they announced it at Fox, then Neil was going to do it and it was going to be the executive producer and I know that they are already sending money out to visual effects houses and so on and so forth. I ran into people that said, oh yeah, we're working on it. And then something happened. I don't know what happened, but I just really decided he wanted to do his. He's, well, he did the covenant and you know, whether you like to cover it or not, it dropped 90 percent.

Speaker 3:13:29It's second, second weekend. So that's the end to really Scott and aliens. Nobody's going to give Ridley Scott another chance at aliens and he's a talented guy, but you know, you just, if you're an executive you just can't, you can't work like that. And even with that franchise name behind it for a drop, like that same thing with terminator, but watch Jim's terminator and it'll turn that franchise around. And I think he, I think he could do the same thing with, uh, aliens. Uh, now you know, it's Disney either. Now they're in the middle of like Fox and Disney and people talk about Disneyland getting pg movies and that's not true. They do, they do. They've done quite a few arm will be a long time ago. They did one called pretty woman. That was, I think one of the first r rated movies that Disney did.

Speaker 3:14:18So, you know, I think that it could be. I know sigourney wants to do it so bad. I think up probably feels that like there's anybody, he kind of owes a little bit of, you know, you've given me so much, giving you something back. It would be sigourney weaver she sees and she wants to do now. We've been really said he was going to do it. First of all she was, she was promoting and promoting and promoting and like, like every comic con that I should be all over the place talking to. And then, um, when Ridley decided do his, you know, like she went radio silent, you know, and then about two weeks ago, three weeks ago, she came, she came in. There's a lot come out.

Speaker 4:15:04Yeah. It wasn't just one or two articles. There were about, I mean, and again, like Michael and scored. He didn't jump on a call. We just, you know, we're doing our usual morning and all of a sudden there were about seven articles, but it made sense because when he goes and works out with Jim, they're only avatar and she was being asked about, you know, that. And all of a sudden it came out that, uh, you know, what Michael's talking about and there were about seven, maybe even 11 articles that covered the same, just mentioning that she talks about it, she talked about it and that, uh, you know, there, there was all of a sudden that it was being talked about again with her and that there was this sort of opening there. And, you know, I was around to when Michael had talked to Jim during the aliens are union.

Speaker 4:15:48We were promoting movies at comicon, but really only because there was an Allianz for union and we got the opportunity to go there and uh, do watch him do the 30th, was it 30th or 20 slash 20 slash 25th year reunion. And during that time, uh, Jim spoke about, you know, how much he loved that script. So I firsthand heard that. And um, you know, I think a lot of people that, uh, started to, to either read it or support it or be involved, we're really excited around that time. So I don't doubt, I haven't had any doubt that this was going to come back around, you know, so obviously who knows, but,

Speaker 3:16:30and you know, if it doesn't, the way that I look at it is I was the leading man in the best one that was ever done.

Speaker 2:16:38Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I mean it would be nice. It'd be awesome to see. I mean obviously they're just done it for Halloween. They've it tastefully with Halloween because they exactly the same thing with Jamie Lee Curtis back and they've just like exactly what that would do that I didn't, I didn't notice that. Yeah. Halloween came out and made some money. Right? Yeah. Did pretty well. Give the fans what they want. Yeah. Right. And that's why, that's why it was in terminator that Linda didn't.

Speaker 3:17:13The only reason Linda's back in it is because gems, you know, involved.

Speaker 2:17:17Yeah, we'll do that for Jama. So that's what the fans, right? Yeah, yeah, exactly. We will not combination the bands would love to keep out of reach, but you know, a pop back up and never been a conversation that he's told me about. But in my mind,

Speaker 4:17:36um, I would love to see that happen because even if it's in a dream or in a, this is what he would be like today or whatever because I think that would be a dream of the fans and now that it's back in Jim's court again, who knows what's in his mind. But it seems like that would be a really fun thing to see happen as well.

Speaker 3:17:57You know, I've always been asked about that and I, I don't really ever see how he died in the first one, you know? And I get a bit difficult to do. Yeah. So I am like so happy. I'm so happy with the chance that I, you know, I mean just like with that, like to work with Jim again, shame on a friendly basis, we work out and so forth. But to watch somebody like that is like watching Spielberg movie, you know, it's like, you know, it's, it's, it's fun to watch a master, you know, doing this work because I'm over this filmmakers. I really, I mean of course my favorite filmmakers do. But yeah, there was some mild strokes and yeah, and Karen and Jim Cameron and she'll say rugged rotary. You guys up there, there's guys like just pure musters thing is things happened is after the seventies kind of Deniro, Pachino Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford and I'm Jack Nicholson, Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, those five guys.

Speaker 3:19:15I mean that was a time I think the filmmaking for me was like when I look at filmmaking, look at it and I go like, that was the best. I mean it's hard to go back to like thirties and forties and kind of like. But to me that was like, you know, the dog day, afternoon one flew over the Cuckoo's nest and I'm a and godfathers and that's when the really good films were being made and yet you look at what's being made now and like it's so much of it as has to deal with like making money. So everything's like, you know, fascinating, furious, part eight, you know, and, and, and you know, the marvel movies, which I think are great for, for kids, but not type of thing that I, I necessarily, you know, really I haven't seen what we've seen lately that I went like, wow, that was really good. While the deadpool movies we really liked it.

Speaker 4:20:07He was talking about having a family and how are our priorities change and, and you know, Wayne work and I just got the most incredible because he just started school in the US today because we're eight hours ahead and I just got the most incredible picture and email from his school while Michael was talking and our son is not a very um, he's very picky eater and he won't eat and all of a sudden this new school he's at, I mean he's just trying things and I get this picture of him eating this big bowl, apple crumble pancakes and you would never think a parent would be happy about that. But I'm thrilled because my son wouldn't eat pancakes even like all he wanted and was like, these little yogurt melts or like a piece of toast, you know? And so, um, honey, our son's eating pancakes, I'm thrilled

Speaker 2:21:05because my son is, he's going to call, he's got a condition and its eds and ever since he was three, he had his tonsils and adenoids out when he was about to end because he couldn't swallow and he choked. And ever since then he's been really, really picky. So I know exactly where you're coming from. When he tries to kids' parties and the older kids, burgers, fries and chicken nuggets, he wouldn't touch them. We had to bring our own sandwiches, sandwiches. How old was, he was having nightmares and I'm sitting right next to them. Oh by the way, every time something comes up and I go, okay. So he had that going.

Speaker 4:23:06My little son will watch these bigger people movies, but he'll turn to me and I'll say, mommy, can you fast forward that part? And you don't have to go to a machine and find it and stopped you because it's streaming. You can just put that little button on your streaming on your TV and no sound, so there's no, no scary music. And then I say, which part do you want me to start it? And that's where we started it and then he doesn't have to endure the, you know, where you turn off these devices now to make it a little easier to show children

Speaker 2:23:38movies. Skip around. The only problem with my son is like, like, like he'll see Jurassic Park. Right. And for the next three weeks. No, no, I'm not in the humming humming. Oh my God. His own film. Like he, he takes his, his dogs, his little interrupted, like done, done the music with the dol, living the movie out there. Point, you know, you want to hear different songs for about three weeks now. My son is building Lego ghostbusters nearly Christmas present. The whole family from Newcastle, that's where they filmed the outside of the northern California. That's a giant apartment. Lockwood know drastic, drastic world and Jurassic world falling kingdom. And probably the one that's coming out in 20, 21. Sorry. National Trust House up in Northumberland takes place in northern California, but I don't think it'll be able to wrap his head around that. It keeps saying we're in America last year. Well, what'd you call it? A broomstick lessons. Two years

Speaker 3:26:44coming up I think in like two years already in February or March. And how quick things kind of time does it since we lost the weight, the, you know, the Great Bill Paxton from aliens and. And that must have come as a head because you think the aliens itself was obviously, like you say, the best film, best film. They're not saying it's sycophantic Lee because I'm sitting next to Hicks and. But it was and, and Bill Paxton, you game over guy. It's iconic roles all across that film as well. So you guys must be kept quite close as well in the years. Well a bill and I actually did five movies together, so you know, when you consider each movie is usually about three months. So we're seeing each other every day after we did lords of discipline, which is the first one that Frank Rod. I'm directed David keystart in. He asked where I met bill and um, you know, when we were younger we weren't working as much, but as after aliens, which, um, you know, get pretty well, you know, he's totally picking up work and then I started picking up a lot of work and so we didn't get to see each other so much.

Speaker 3:28:02But uh, he, uh, people always asked me who's my favorite actress or who's my favorite director, whom I never asked her to work with. Yeah. And my favorite actor to work with as always, Bill, because bill was a, he brought an energy and joyfulness into a room whether he was working or whether he was, you know, meeting you at a restaurant and whether he was like, you know, he was just about a lot of people. There was just no one quite like him. He's just not somebody that walks into a room do you don't notice and go, wow, that guy has got a lot of energy and it seemed very friendly and fun and very approachable. And, uh, he uh, he, he worked real hard and he was about as close as anybody in the business that I did. I've worked with so many times with the tombstone. We did a terrible movie called Navy seals together. Oh, I enjoyed that. Seriously the best field. But I liked it and know of course it was in the terminator, the Terminator and a tombstone. We spent a lot of time together and uh, I miss him, I imagine he said, yeah, it was someone who didn't seem like a big personality as well. So it's just a big personality. But like, yeah, Bill, big personality,

Speaker 4:29:42but I'm kind of pushing it. It was just like fun to be around. I mean, it wasn't always. He was like he would embrace the people that were around him and kind of energize the people, whether it's me or Michael to five movies with bill and knows very well. I knew bill very well and they were good old friends, like great old friends, you know, through my, through ups downs and the left. Right. You know, Mike was there and dom that his wife. But as somebody who admired bill's career, knew about him through my husband and was excited to meet him myself, he made me feel good, you know, and I can just say when he talked to you, I mean, I have tears in my eyes talking about it now. I felt like I knew him really well. I felt like he was my friend and I felt um, like what I was saying was important in that moment.

Speaker 4:30:41And I'll remember that. I can remember the last moment that I saw bill before we were at his memorial, was at the COMECON and La after the aliens reunion I saw gale Hurd in the lobby with my little son and I ran into bill who is waiting for his daughter going like, oh, girl long, you know, I'm so glad to have seen you. And, and you know, the way that he was was he just was a heartwarming person and he was always the one trying to rally the dinner's always the one training. Get everybody together and keep everybody together. Um, the few times that I was around him with Michael and, and I just want to say that as somebody who spent way less time with him, he made me feel like a friend and good and so you can imagine the amount of people affected by this one human being, actor fucking see how emotional it, there's only I know many people out there who've got that kind of a personal thing about them.

Speaker 4:31:44So it may just make it more special, makes it obviously more sad. Uh, when something like that happens. So yeah, it was way too young to. So moving on with Alex, I just want to just speak to it because it's easy for Michael or Jim are so close to bill to have those feelings. Of course you're going to have those feelings, but for somebody to touch people in such a level. So in the smaller cases there's so many people like that I've met that are like, oh my God, Bill, he did this for me and he did that for me. And I mean, mark had a through that we've run into everybody that I know of that met bill, who maybe has been, has met me, said like, oh, I got to, you know, I met bill packs and he was so great. I've never, never

Speaker 3:32:40heard of a negative thing about him and I'm just nothing really I can answer great family, a beautiful wife, two great children, uh, you know, just, and just smart and fun, loved art, loved directing. And in his movies were, you know, the one, uh, the, especially the small one that he did so good. And uh, so I mean he just loved movies and he just loved being. He loved life. He never seemed like he was in a bad mood. Never seemed like it was like having a tough time. He's just always just a,

Speaker 2:33:25yeah, my mother comes to the end of this, Michael, because obviously I don't know. I'll give you your evening back. I've taken up enough. Is there anything you'd like to say to people who are listening? Just final parting words to the people who are listening to this? Well, a lot of encouragement,

Speaker 3:33:48you know, it depends whether I'm talking to film makers or from talking to fans, but uh, you know, these days films are being made by everybody and uh, if you're a young filmmaker, you want to be a young film maker instead of like waiting and, and, and thinking that you have to like move to la or New York or something like that, meet the right people and casting directors and all that stuff. You know, you can basically take your phone out and make movies. Now they have film festivals for people that make movies with their phone. So, you know, if you're a young person, you've got a good story, you want to tell it, you know, they'll fund a lot of people that will want to act in it with you and you can make your own movies. You know, you can use the source music and start that way. Yeah, that's what Robert Robert, that's what the brilliance of, of, of, of, you know, that's what I said earlier, you know, just, just do it. Go get it done. Movies, make one.

Speaker 2:34:45My son went to show him recently because he made me this as well, him and me. I was the camera man for. He made sure he will need to the Harry Potter one for the whole of north Wales Difference district. Sorry. And then from there he ended up being screened in a film festival. Okay. So he's on his way. I'll start recording now my, but that. It's actually been absolutely fantastic. Again, I really appreciate me back and I really appreciate your time. Hit me up in another two years.

Speaker 1:35:14I'll just take this time again to Michael and Jennifer for that time at the hotel. This was done on their own time in the hotel prior to the whales comic con in December, which is fantastic. So some great chat. Great Laugh. I still very fondly in remembering being interrupted by the backstreet boys and sons of anarchy. Walking around in the background couldn't be better and thank you very much. I hope people have enjoyed listening. This has been Chris Gordon on Hellblazer base with Michael Bean and Jennifer blog. Been.

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