‘Aliens’ veteran Lance Henriksen talks about his role in TRON: UPRISING

TRON: UPRISING is an upcoming animated show that bridges the gap between the original 1982 TRON and the more recent 2010 sequel TRON: LEGACY. In the show actor Lance Henriksen (Aliens, The Terminator, Alien vs. Predator) voices General Tesler, the “eccentric power hungry” villain, who is a cutthroat dictator, stopping at nothing to fulfill his master Clu’s task in bringing order and control to Argon City.

Recently Collider caught up with Henriksen and was able to interview him on his new role in  the TRON franchise.

What do you like about this animated series?

LANCE HENRIKSEN: What I like the most about it is that I’m computer illiterate, but I get it. Charles Bean is a brilliant director. I come in with an idea and try to do it, but I fall on my face. And then, he says, “Wait a minute, there was a little moment in there. Let’s try that moment and expand in that direction.” Because I’ve done a lot of theater, I know what power is and how megalomaniacs are, since I’ve certainly played some. That opened it up and expanded it. When you get into TRON, you have a very fundamental story. I’m not saying it’s Red Riding Hood, but it’s as fundamental. It’s power, it’s rebellion, and metaphorically it’s like what people are doing in America right now, with getting mad at the government and the bankers.

I find that Tesler is so frustrated and twisted about the power that he wants and what he’s willing to do to get it. It’s very much like a megalomaniac politician. So, the details of the world started resonating. I don’t change any narrative. That’s written in stone. They’ve got the formula. But, in order to personalize it, I just have to give it the energy it needs. Clu is really Tesler’s enemy, but it’s the unspoken enemy. Tesler would never relay that to Paige because that would be his undoing. He’d get deres-ed, like anybody else. There are also very strong women in this. Usually the male control and domination that tends to be in our genes gets around a powerful woman who has the ability to make choices different from guys, it throws you off and you get frustrated. I’ve done a lot of video games and stuff, and I’m getting better and better at it. I don’t have a prejudice about it being a different medium.

What’s it like to bring a character to life by yourself, in the recording booth?

HENRIKSEN: Nobody does this alone. Charles Bean made the experience for me. I was very happy to keep coming back to do more. There’s a pathetic nature to Tesler, too. He can’t do everything. He would love to be a real good fighter, but he’s only got a couple of tricks and, once you get on to them, they’re not as successful.

Is Tesler just a pure villain, or is there a level of heart?

HENRIKSEN: Not a drop. Not even for himself. That’s what makes him a tragic figure. There’s something weird about Tesler. If the series goes on, I will have no input. There’s not a word they want to hear from me. There’s nothing more terrifying than an actor who comes with an idea. It’s fine when it’s intimate and you’re in the booth, working the narrative. But, I love doing it. My daughter says that Tesler has got the best wardrobe because he has a cape. That makes him capable.

The 10-part mini series TRON: Uprising will air on Thursdays on Disney XD, starting on June 7th.

You can check out the first episode here.