Alien 3: Haven't a clue about Bishop 2

Leading from

Bishop 2 with the side of his head hanging open

a) Looking for a way for Henriksen's return
Lance Henriksen was living in New York, and he was called by Billy Hopkins the casting director to do an another instalment of the Alien series. 

He came to read for David Fincher who offered him a part, curiously he was offered the role of Junior,  the leader of the group of inmates who attempt to rape Ripley. 

Henriksen was actually hurt by this because he didn't want to play the role of someone who had to rape Ripley.

It seemed rather curious to wonder how fans would have responded to another character who looked like the android Bishop, although shaven headed amongst the cast, and the rape scene was the only real scene which Junior had and later he was going to get killed.

He didn't mind shaving his head to play a bald headed character, he's willing to play good guys and bad guys, and even character that are very dark.

He found himself thinking "My god, I'm going to go to England and be bald and be there for five months and all I'm going to do is this one scene where I rape Sigourney, then I get killed and oh no it didn't seem like it was going to be particularly satisfying as an actor, Do I need this kind of an assignment?

So he declined and then David Fincher called him up.

Fincher said to Henriksen "Listen, I know that in er the original, in the script that you have, this character only, only had this one scene, but you know, I just want you to know that I have, I have you in mind for a lot of different things in the film, and I'm going to shoot with you a lot, and I think you're going to have a great experience."

Henriken was very impressed, since Fincher had gone through all the trouble to do that and he himself wasn't a big star.

b) Invitation for a short visit, a coffee and a doughnut
Discussions about Lance Henriksen returning to the Alien franchise had taken place as Bishop the android earlier in development. 

There was a script by William Gibson in which he has been repaired after being ripped in two by the Alien Queen from Aliens, and is now main character but by the time of Alien 3, Henriksen had physically aged a lot so it was almost out of the question. 

However there was another way to bring him back, although briefly as another character labeled as Bishop II in the final script mostly written by Walter Hill and David Giler, who at one point had an impressive death.  

It seems that the new Bishop 2 character had been pulled out of a magic hat to be put into the script and it was a fairly small role at the end of the film, Henriksen still had some reservations about it
he thinking "Why revisit something like that?

He dd it once and that was enough. It took Walter Hill to talk Lance Henriksen into the role, saying "Look Lance, why don't you go do this movie, go to London, have a cup of coffee  (years later remembered as tea) and a doughnut and come home; we just want you to be in it. You're going to be playing Bishop 1 and 2." .

Lance felt that he was being asked nicely and couldn't say no, but he didn't know what the value of what he was doing was. 

What started out as an invitation for a short visit soon turned into a month. 

However he felt that the only he was asked to do the picture was for product recognition and his character would have drawn fans in who recognised him from the original Alien. 

He wouldn't be used again this way. 

He also felt that if the part didn't work, he would quit acting. 

But he played the character along the corporate line and this would be different from the way he played Bishop the android.

c) The nature of the confusion 
Bishop 2 was a threadbare character, and was supposed to be a company employee who was the man who built Bishop from Aliens, his name as Bishop 2 only turns up in the credits.  

He turns up as a friendly face to convince Ripley to allow the company to remove the chestburster from her, and one thing he has to do is persuade her that he really has shown up as a friendly face of a real human rather than the friendly face of another android.

He claims to be the prototype of the Bishop android, the man who created him.

Ripley: : No more bullshit. I just felt it move.

Bishop II: You know who I am?

Ripley: : You're a droid, same model as Bishop...sent by the fucking Company.

Bishop II:  No. I'm not the Bishop android. I designed it. I'm very human. The Company sent me here to show you a friendly face... to demonstrate how important you are to me.

Ripley: : You want to take it back.

Bishop II:  We want to kill it and take you home.

Ripley: : Bullshit.

Bishop II:  You're wrong. We want to help.

Ripley: : What does that mean?

Bishop II: We're going to take that out of you.

Ripley: : And keep it?

Bishop II:  Can't let it live. Everything we know would be in jeopardy.

What exactly is it that they know that's in jeopardy?

In the Alien script known as the Cylinder script , after half being accused of having a reason to keep the alien alive,  Ash says to Dallas "The Alien is a dangerous form of life... It killed Kane... I want it dead... as much as anyone does"
And then in the comic book version, when Dallas voiced his suspicions against Ash, there was something that Ash said to Dallas "I don't want it alive any more than you do ."

And perhaps anything that Bishop II has to say is about as valid as anything that Ash has to say as one of the company's special employees of one kind or another.

Ripley: You don't want to take it back?

Bishop II:  Ripley, time is important. We've got a surgical bay on the rescue ship.
Come with me. You still can have a life. Children. Most important, you'll know it's dead.
Let me help you.

Ripley: What guarantee do I have... once you've taken it out...
that you'll destroy it?

Bishop II: : You'll have to trust me.

Ripley: Please?

Bishop II: :Trust me?
Ripley: : No.

Bishop II: What's this going to achieve? 

However Aaron, one of the employees of the prison, is suddenly convinced that he must he an android, and hits Bishop 2 around the back of his head, resulting in the side of the face is hanging open and blood pumping out from his skull. 

A scene that should have resulted in Bishop 2 being killed soon transforms into a scene where he seems unaffected by the injury as he calls out to Ripley to not kill herself.  

Aaron had accused him of being another android when he went to attack and after he's hit, Bishop II cries out out "I'm not a droid!", but does that really prove a thing?

Bishop II:  Ripley, think of all we could learn from it. It's the chance of a lifetime!
You must let me have it. It's a magnificent specimen. What are you doing?

Bishop II seems to let down his cover, he just really wanted the alien creature did he really intend to kill it?  But Ripley plunges to her death

d) Different versions of the script
In one version of the script that had been filmed, Bishop 2 has been mortally injured and bleeds to death or falls over the side of the railing and dies. 

In the reshoot he continues to live, but the side of his head had been ripped open, with blood is gushing out at the side.

Still he continues to remain on his feet crying out for Ripley to give the company the chestburster.  

e) Response to the confusion 
It may have been the director and the scriptwriters intention to make sure that people knew that Bishop 2 was a human.

Those intentions failed to have the last word when many many audience members asked the question from then about whether he was an android or a human

They would argue about it for a long time to come. 

The actor Lance Henriksen could not explain exactly what his character was standing around for with the side of his face hanging open like a flap after he was hit in the head.

He thought that it was all up in the air about what this character was when they were making the film, that they weren't sure and they wanted to leave doubt. 

He stated that they came up with the scene where he gets hit on the back of the head with a pipe very late on. 

And since they had not prepared for it, they cobbled together a prosthetic appliance for the flap like injury that had one of the couple of Jack Nicholson's ear left over from his role in the Batman movie a few years before, instead of his own, and the prosthetic ear was also much bigger than his own

f) Another point of confusion 
Above this confusion was the fact that David Fincher revealed later in 1996 that in his original story for Alien 3 he told the studios that got him the job, he mentioned that there were three Lance Henriksen's running around.  

In light of what we got where we discover that what we assumed first was another robot is revealed to be a human being and then the closer we inspect the injury, many people are left confused about which it should be. How would have David Fincher explained away the confusion?
g) The fantailing 'Is he or isn't he' situation 
In 2004, Lance Henriksen talked about the confusion for the Alien Vs Predator publicity, how it was up in the air what Bishop 2 was, and along with Paul W.S. Anderson personally preferred to think of him as an advanced model of android.

Henriksen's rationale developed into the idea that if you're going to continually make an android or an artificial person, then they would advance it to the point where they say "Okay, let's give him red blood instead of milk". 

He also talked about how the confusion was the same with Jim Cameron when he talked about doing another Alien movie, pondering on the idea of what he might do to Bishop, saying that maybe somebody messed with his brain to make him dangerous. 

In 2010 he added that Cameron had the idea that Bishop was aware that someone had fooled around with his brain and was constantly worried that he would do something dangerous, so it was an  'is he or is he not' situation, and Henriksen found that he liked this conflict.   

By 2015, Henriksen was quite convinced that Fincher's idea was that he intended to leave people guessing

h) Tumbling into the darkness 
If we were to value the confusion about whether Bishop 2 was an android or not, we might take a look at the film Blade Runner which was released in 1982 where the director Ridley Scott talked about the character Deckard being a human and would also reveal about how he thought that Deckard was really a Replicant

Although the main clue to the fact that he was a replicant had been taken out, there were still subtle clues indicating this to still be a truth, and the French audience were known to have picked it up immediately. 

However many members of the audience who had invested in the idea that Deckard was a human through and through, couldn't handle the idea the revelation in the interviews that he was a replicant, and this idea was unleashed onto the public in a much more prominent way when the first director's cut of Blade Runner was released in 1992.

Meanwhile David Fincher had a great interest in Blade Runner to the extent that he was brought cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth the director of photography from that film into the Alien 3 production, until he became too ill to work. Jordan was then was replaced by Alex Thompson, a man well experienced in this field who kept the style of photography as close to Cronenweth's as possible. (See also Blade Runner: Rick Deckard: human or replicant?)

Source Quotes
  1. Lance Henriksen: Lorsque Walter Hill m’a proposé de reprendre du service dans Alien3, le déception a été grande de m’aprecevoir que je n’avais que quelques minutes à l’écran. Walter m’a contacté pour me dire : “Allez Lance, pointe-toi, fais-le, prends un café et rentre chez toi, fais-le, prends un café et rentre chez toi“. Il avait besoin de moi pour une séquence bien précise, une scène capitale. Bien sûr, je ne pouvais pas refuser en prétextant la modestie de mon apparition.  Maintenant, je suis fier de la scène. En fait, j’incarne l’homme qui a créé Bishop, à son image, un type en fait bien moins humains que sa créature  (Google translation: When Walter Hill asked me to resume service in Alien3, the disappointment was great to realize that I had only a few minutes on the screen. Walter contacted me to tell me: "Go Lance, tip up, do it, get a coffee and go home, do it, get a coffee and go home." He needed me to a specific sequence, a key scene. Of course I could not refuse, claiming the modesty of my appearance. Now, I am proud of the scene. In fact, I play the man who created Bishop, in his image, a guy actually much less human than his creature) (Ecran Fantastique, # 126 p31, ,August 1992)
  2. Lance Henriksen: Bishop II genuinely wants to save her, and the story changes really helped Alien 3, The part grew while the material was being developed, yet Bishop's fate was always in the hands of the gods. I'd read the scripts where he was a star and others that had Bishop walking through. I never knew if he would survive until the final draft. (Fangoria, #112, May 1992)
  3. Lance Henriksen: Actually, that's  only part true. Or maybe it's more than part true. Oh you know what I mean. I get to play what's left of Bishop, and I play Bishop II, his human creator. (Starlog/July/1992, p46)
  4. Lance Henriksen: After I finished ALIENS, and it came out and was a big hit, they wanted me to sign up to do III and IV. I wouldn't do it. Without scripts, everything is in someone else's court. I had no choice in the matter once I say yes. So honestly I wasn't sure I would even be in Alien 3. (Starlog/July/1992, p46)
  5. Lance Henriksen:  There were five scripts done. I would be written in, then written out. In one, Bishop was an enormous character. So I never knew(Starlog/July/1992, p46)
  6. Lance Henriksen:  I was really disappointed in a way. Walter Hill called me up and said "Look, Lance,  just go and do it, have a cup of coffee and come home." They needed me for a reason, a dramatic reason. Besides, I wouldn't say 'No, the role is too small for me.' It wasn't a matter of that. All  of the sentiment about Bishop is there. The key scene with Sigourney is really good, beautifully written, and the way they shot it is unbelievable. So it's a small role, I'm very proud of it. (Starlog/July/1992, p46)
  7. Lance Henriksen: It's hard to tell, Bishop II gets clobbered on the head with a piece of steel. It almost takes my ear off. It opens the side of my head up, but I don't die. They think I'm an android and they realize after they clobber me that I'm not an android. I'm a person, the guy who created Bishop. (Starlog/July/1992, p46)
  8. Lance Henriksen: Judging from having done it, I would say Bishop is much more humane than his creator. When I did Aliens, I found a humanity in playing that role. All I could work on was Bishop's humanity. For him anything that's alive was really magnificent.  He's like a misunderstood 14 year old. (Starlog/July/1992, p47)
  9. David Fincher: There was a whole section where they actually cut three minutes out of the end sequences when Bishop comes and presents his case. I always wanted it to play like she listens to him and is really tempted by it. Originally that scene played out much longer and there was a 40 second pause from the time he said "Please trust us" and she made this decision and then she finally looked up at him and said "No" (Imagi Movies vol 1 #1, 1993)
  10. Lance Henriksen: They asked me really nicely, and I couldn't say no. So now I just have to live with it.  (Aliens, Vol 2, Number 22, 1994,"Regarding Henriks" by David Hughes, p46)
  11. David Hughes: Nevertheless, Henriksen feels that the only reason he was asked to do the picture was for product recognition - the studio knew that his name would attract the many fans of his character from ALIENS to the second sequel - and he is determined that he "wont be used that way again."(Aliens, Vol 2, Number 22, 1994, "Regarding Henriks" by David Hughes, p46)
  12. Lance Henriksen: My deal with myself was, I was going to quit acting if that part didn't work. (Aliens, Vol 2, Number 22, 1994, "Regarding Henriks" by David Hughes, p46)
  13. Lance Henriksen: My scene with Sigourney (Weaver) was good but I wish it had been fuller and given a bit more substance. (Aliens, Vol 2, Number 22, 1994 "Regarding Henriks" by David Hughes, p46)
  14. David Hughes: In Alien 3, fans are still unsure whether "Bishop 2", the company man sent to dissuade Ripley from suicide, was on the level or not and don't even seem to agree whether or not he was playing an android or a human! (Aliens, Vol 2, Number 22,  1994 "Regarding Henriks" by David Hughes, p48)
  15. David Fincher: The story I told them, that got me the job, was cool. It was a fucking David Lean movie. It wasn't about tough guys in outer space, it was about paedophiles in outer space. It was a huge movie and it was very complicated and political. There were three Lance Henriksens running around, Paul McGann was a serial killer, and at the end of the movie you had the alien running around and you've got 3,000 stormtroopers on their way. It was a massive and strange idea that was great. I went 'They gave me the work, so they're going to let me make this movie.' Then it was like, ' We can't do that, we can only have eighteen guys show up at the end. ' And so at a certain point they cut the fucking balls of the thing. (Empire, p85, Seventh Hell, February 1996)
  16. Lance Henriksen: I remember Walter Hill saying "Lance, why don't you go do this movie, go to London, have a cup of coffee and a doughnut and come home: we just want you to be in it." Then it turned out to be a month... The original script had it as a monk's planet which would have been awful. Then it turned into an prison planet (Total Film, November 2004, p102, Fright Club  2004)
  17. Lance Henriksen: When I worked on Alien 3, it was up in the air as to what Bishop was. Was he an android or a human. Nobody knew. It was the same with Jim Cameron, when he was talking about doing another Alien movie. He often pondered about what he might do with Bishop, saying that somehow they messed with his brain to make him dangerous. or not."(Total Film November 2004, Fright Club, p102)
  18. Lance Henriksen: Well, they left that open, because they weren't sure what they were going to do with me. What I believe is that Bishop II was a more advanced model. I love the idea of 'advanced' models. And this the prequel, so I'm well rounded! (Starlog/July/2004, p32-33)
  19. Lance Henriksen: The third Alien was a really different one for me because it dealt with a despicable place and many despicable people. I didn't know who to root for. Sigourney falls in love with a doctor who's a little like a serial killer in a way. He shot everybody up with some bad medicine and killed them all. So I did not know what to do. I played that Bishop along the corporate line (Starlog/July/2004, p32-33) 
  20. Lance Henriksen: I also remember Jim saying to me, if we ever did another one that what he would have done is probably had that character realize that somebody had fooled around with his brain and make him constantly worried that he was going to do something dangerous. And so I thought, well, what a nice piece of conflict that is. ( 2010 01 01)
  21. Lance Henriksen: There was some confusion at the moment of execution, makeup found an ear from Jack Nicholson, left after his batman appearance, and used it on the flap of the skin wound, I think the unresolved questions adds to the entertainment, is he or is he not, Fincher was content with the issue. ( Lance Henriksen's Facebook page, 27th October, 2010)
  22. Lance Henriksen: They weren't sure, they wanted to leave a doubt, and they came up with a scene where I get hit on the head with the pipe very late on. They hadn't prepared for it, and the make-up is actually a Jack Nicholson left ear left over from a Batman shoot. He's got a lot smaller ear than I do. (Empire, November 2009, p116)
  23. Interviewer: How did you get involved in Alien 3

    Lance Henriksen: I was a young actor, living in New York, and I got called from a casting director, whose still around, a very nice guy named Billy Hawkins/Hopkins, and he said er, we're going to do ah, another installment in er Sigourney Weaver's your know, Alien series, and er, that this young director was somebody that was considered like a genius, 'cause he had started his career, as you know, with seventeen years old he was an intern at George Lucas Industrial Light and Magic, and that he was, you know, had directed videos and commercials and everybody thought that he was really brilliant and, and of course he turned out to be the very brilliant David Fincher, and so I came and read for David, and erm , he offered me a part, and it hurts. believe it or not, I declined, because in the, in the original script, the only scene that my character, named Junior, er, you know, one of the convicts,  one of the space... let's see, well not space monkeys, space monkey and fight club, what were we in Alien,  what were we in Alien 3? Or was it something else?

    Interviewer: You're just er, space monks instead

    Lance Henriksen: Right, space monks there you go. So er, you know, he er, he offered me this part. When I, when I read the full script, the only thing that erm this character really did was rape Sigourney Weaver, and you know when I play a character, I'm willing to play, to play good kind of guys and bad guys, I'm willing to play characters that are very dark and characters that are . the thing was, the only scene that this guy had, you was, was this rape scene. You know, when you had to go to England and you had to shave your head bald, none of that really bothered me but, oh god when they were asking me for a five month commitment, I was like "My god, I'm going to go to England and be bald and be there for five months and all I'm going to do is this one scene where I rape Sigourney, then I get killed and oh no it didn't seem like it was going to be particularly satisfying as an actor, Do I need this kind of an assignment?" And so I declined.

    And to give him all his credit, I got a call from er from David Fincher, he called me from England, he was already over there and er, he said "Listen" he said "I know that in er the original, in the script that you have, this character only, only had this one scene, but you know, I just want you to know that I have, I have you in mind for a lot of different things in the film, and I'm going to shoot with you a lot, and er, I think you're going to have a great experience." So I was very impressed by the fact that he had erm gone to the trouble to make that kind of a call. You know, I wasn't erm a big star or anything, needless to say, like my second movie I think, so erm, anyhow, I said yes and I went over and true to his word, David really er, you know, David really used me a lot in the film, and I have a lot of very memorable scenes, including an incredible death scene which did not make the final cut, because sadly the studio stepped in and took the film away from David in post production and re-cut it themselves, and er, any any scene which did not feature Sigourney hit the floor, and frankly it er, it was a terrible tragedy, because David is one of the world's great directors, and er, if they would have allowed him , just to er, realise his vision, it would have been a much better film, um you know he had the last laugh, because he came back and made Seven which is a phenomenal movie and of course he made Fight Club which is iconic and since then he has become you know one of the most successful directors in Hollywood. But at that moment that, was his first movie, and he was kind of a young upstart, and then I think the studio thought it was too dark and they didn't get it and you know, they didn't like him, and so they took it away from him, and then you know , all my scenes really hit the floor, except for a few little, you know, pieces, ah, but the rape scene is still there. So erm, I don't regret it. David hired me again a few years later for one of his films, and I consider him a friend, you know, er , and that was kind of like, a first step for me toward being in a kind of bigger studio affair.  (
  24. Interviewer: You don't tend to do a whole of sequels in your career but you have come back to do kind of the Bishop role a little bit, like through other means
    Lance Henriksen: Yeah, but they're, they're like different manifestation, it's real.., it's pretty cool actually
    Interviewer: Was it, always given that you were going to be in Alien 3 when that came out? (what came out?)
    Lance Henriksen: No, I don't think so, i think when they write about Bishop , they, it's usually like 4 in the morning and the writers are sitting around with a block, and they go,  "what if we bring Bishop, , in some, you know. manifestation? Yuh, okay
    Interviewer: Yeah, you kinda are a little bit of a deus ex machina at the end there
    Lance Henriksen: yeah
    Interviewer: I know this is a really dumb question, but I have to ask it anyway, and I apologise in advance. Was Bishop 2 a human or an artificial person?
    Lance Henriksen: I think he was an advanced model, because one of the things that happened was, that, that, Fincher came up with that on the moment and we didn't have an ear , you know he wanted me to be hit in the head and have the flap open up, and, but, we didn't have an ear, so Jack Nicholson had just finished er, the Joker, and they had a couple of his ears made of polypropolene or whatever it is, and we used one of those. So my left ear was big, and my right ear was little. It was a little, a little ear. But I thought, yuh, okay, if you're going to continually make an android or an artificial person, that they would advance it to the point where, okay, let's give him red blood instead of milk, so that was my rationale, you know, but I, I thought, I thought Fincher's idea was a good one, that you, you leave it, leave people guessing.
  25. Interviewer:You returned for a cameo in David Fincher's Alien 3, but you weren't that keen to reprise the role, were you?
    Lance Henriksen: I love David Fincher and thought he was a brilliant young man, but I thought, "Why revisit something like that?" I did it once - it's enough! But [producer] Walter Hill called me and said "Go to England, have a cup of tea and a doughnut, and come home.  You're going to be playing Bishop 1 and 2." Fincher was so bright and I genuinely liked him. I just didn't want to revisit it. When I did Millenium and played Frank Black every week and every show for three years it felt like one long movie, so that was fine. I guess my first feeling was out of nerves. I didn't know what the value of what I was doing was. I certainly wasn't playing him the same way I was playing Bishop (SFX #115,  p115 , 2016),


  1. Fincher asking Lance to play one of the convicts puzzles me. Did Lance misremember?

  2. I don’t think he’d aged that much in 5 years to be unable to play the same role