Once deemed “the American Max Von Sydow” by cinematographer Robert McLachlan, it wasn't until the age of 30 that Lance Henriksen appeared in his first film, 1972's It Ain't Easy (streaming for free on Tubi).
Prior to his screen appearances, Henriksen had a varied youth. He left school after the first grade, having endured a difficult childhood in which his mother banished him from the family home at just seven years old, leaving the young boy with nothing but his birth certificate. The young actor quickly joined up with the United States Navy for three years in the mid '50s, where he achieved the rank of petty officer third class. After serving, Henriksen worked as both a muralist and a laborer in Europe. (To this day, Henriksen continues to craft art, working in clay that he sells on his personal website.)
After his years of bouncing around, Henriksen eventually graduated from the Actors Studio in Manhattan and began performing in local repertory productions, while occasionally finding time to travel to Boston and Chicago for the odd stage gig.