He’s played both hero and villain in some of the most memorable films of all time, but never a victim.
When he wasn’t facing down the biggest badasses in movies in The Terminator (1984) and Aliens (1986), Hollywood icon Michael Biehn was often playing them in films like The Abyss (1989) and Tombstone (1993) over a 35-year career that has recently reached a new level.
OBX Entertainment got to sit down for an extended chat with the legendary actor back in April at the Blood at the Beach (BATB) Horror Convention in Virginia Beach, VA, where we discussed what lead to The Victim, Biehn’s dark and dirty directorial debut that just had its theatrical premiere in New York on August 24 and arrives on DVD this month.
“We came together and shot it in 12 days,” Biehn says of The Victim. “It’s inspired by working with Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino in Grindhouse. A grindhouse film is all about sex and violence, all those things that don’t cost much money, but I didn’t really know much about grindhouse until then.”
He says the 2007 Grindhouse double feature, in which Biehn starred in Rodriguez’s Planet Terror, served as an early blueprint for how to make a movie with little or no funds, but it was Rodriguez himself who ultimately pushed Biehn to direct The Victim.
“It was such a small amount of money,” he recalls, “but I didn’t want to look foolish, and I wanted all artistic control. So I had the same contract as Spielberg or Cameron. I got final cut. I had a lot of help making it, but ultimately it’s mine.”
Biehn is quick to acknowledge that the film is not for everyone, but is obviously pleased that most of those who have seen early screenings “got it”.
“There’s a lot of graphic sex in this film,” said Biehn, “and I was kind of worried how it would play to some of the older audiences, but I was surprised to see that it’s nothing new for these 60-year-olds who have seen it, because the were part of the sexual revolution.
“Before each screening we tell the audience, ‘If you don’t like fighting and f#*!ing, you might want to get up and leave, but no one ever leaves.”
Biehn says the key to enjoying a film like The Victim is to enjoy the rush and the escape.
“Don’t take it seriously,” he said. “If I can take your mind off your problems for 81 minutes, I’ve done my job.
“It’s been a lot of fun out watching people enjoy it. I feel like I got lucky. I’m more proud of this effort than anything I’ve done before.”
That says something after more than three decades of making movies that started with a mostly forgotten, early exploitation film called Coach (1978), in which he plays a young basketball player who is seduced by an older woman.
Biehn also stars in The Victim along with his real life wife Jennifer Blanc Biehn and another genre icon Danielle Harris (Halloween 4, Rob Zombie’s Halloween), and he says that working with Jennifer on set was not too different from their life off set.
“We had acted together before,” he said. “It’s pretty much like our relationship at home. It’s volatile and then we get over it.”
He adds that it was Jennifer (also a producer on The Victim) who first discovered the project.
“She found the original source material. At the time, I thought it was going to be too much work. Then she found a guy to fund it, but it was still not enough, and then years later Robert Rodriguez said, ‘Just go do it.'”
Biehn said it was that final push from maverick director Rodriguez (From Dusk Till Dawn, Desperado, Spy Kids) that ultimately inspired him to take on the task of directing his first feature. He also recalls previewing The Victim for another big name director pal, who had a few ideas of his own.
“James Cameron saw it,” said Biehn, “and he may have thought it was unfinished. He suggested two cuts. It felt like showing Michaelangelo a stick figure, but he was very supportive. He has an idea for a sequel, another strong female.
“He is a good friend. We’re not afraid to talk honestly. When you become that successful, you get a lot of ‘yesmen’, so he knows I’ll give it to him straight. I always say I’d take a bullet for Cameron.”
So is Michael Biehn looking to get behind the camera again soon?
“If I can do it like that again I would love to continue,” he said. “If it’s successful I will do it again, but I need that (creative) control.”
The Victim arrives on DVD on September 18.
You can view the latest trailer and the official poster below!