Lance Henriksen Was The Original Terminator, See His Version In Reality

Lance Henriksen is brought to life as the first Terminator thanks to a talented artist and sculptor using James Cameron's concept art.

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated


Lance Henriksen is one of the greatest character actors alive, but when you mention him in the context of a badass ‘80s monster film, most people will naturally think of his appearance as the android Bishop in James Cameron’s 20th Century Studios film Aliens. However, Cameron originally wanted to cast him as a different kind of robot: originally, the veteran director wanted to cast Lance Henriksen as the Terminator, a role that eventually went to Arnold Schwarzenegger and solidified his career as a Hollywood heavyweight.

Now, thanks to the hard work of artist Peter Murphy, we can see what Henriksen would have looked like as the Terminator…

It’s very striking (to put it mildly) to see the famous face of Lance Henriksen merged with the metal skull of the Terminator. One of the things that stood out to us right away was that Henriksen would have made a great Terminator because it’s always hard to tell what he is thinking based on his bland expression and cold eyes.

This was, of course, what made him so good in Aliens: we couldn’t tell until the very end if he was a good guy or not, and we shared Sigourney Weaver’s concerns based on her character’s run-in with the murderous Ash in the first film.

Over on Facebook, the artist shared more of his thought process in bringing Lance Henriksen as the Terminator to life. It all started with a sculpture of the actor that was then cut in half, making room for the T-800 endoskeleton skull. But it took a lot of modifications to get the look just right, including re-molding, casting, and sanding until the proportions were just right.

The artist knew right away that one of the most iconic things about this movie monster is how shiny the creepy chrome of his body is, so to make his Lance Henriksen Terminator complete, he had it plated with aerospace chrome Rhodium. After that, he added an iris and LED for the creepy red-eye effect and a servo in the back of the head. Ironically enough, the gun was the easiest part of the process, requiring only a bit of 3D printing, molding, and casting to complete the sinister look.

Perhaps our favorite detail about this vision of Lance Henriksen as the Terminator is that the artist made it as close to James Cameron’s vision as possible, and we mean that quite literally. Cameron is a fairly gifted painter in his own right, and he once created a sinister painting of the robotic monster as concept art for his movie.

Look closely at the concept art, and you’ll see that it really does look a lot like Henriksen and very, very different from Arnold Schwarzenegger (who will soon reunite with Cameron for Avatar 4).

While it took a devoted and talented fan to finally show us what Lance Henriksen would have looked like as the Terminator, there is always a chance we could see something like this on the big screen before too long. Each new Terminator movie feels like a wild attempt to do something different, and giving us Henriksen as an aging metal stalker rather than Schwarzenegger would definitely set the next film apart from the rest of the franchise.

The de-aging technology made famous by Marvel could even make Henriksen look like he did back in the ‘80s, and it might even fit the horror motif: after all, the only thing scarier than these uncanny movie monsters is the uncanny valley itself.