Michael Biehn fought off hordes of aliens. He helped take down the Terminator. He squared off with Doc Holliday.
In a career that has spanned more than 40 years, he’s played police officers and soldiers as well as doctors, criminals, cowboys and a host of other roles.
But before all of that, he was just another Nebraska kid.
“I had a great childhood in Lincoln,” Biehn said. “I really like Nebraska.”
Among many other roles, Biehn played Kyle Reese in “The Terminator,” Johnny Ringo in “Tombstone” and Corporal Dwayne Hicks in “Aliens.”
And on May 24, Biehn will return to Nebraska for a Q&A, a signing session and a screening of “Aliens” at Joslyn Art Museum. Presented by Omaha film historian Bruce Crawford, the 7 p.m. screening will include a talk with Biehn before the film and a meet-and-greet session afterward.
Tickets, $24, are on sale at Omaha-area Hy-Vee stores, and proceeds will benefit the Nebraska Kidney Association. More information will be available at omahafilmevent.com.
“Aliens” holds a special place for Biehn, who also worked with the movie’s director, James Cameron, on “The Terminator” and “The Abyss.”
Another actor was originally cast to play Hicks, the space marine who teams up with Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley to combat an infestation of alien xenomorphs (and, uh, an alien queen).
Biehn was passed over for the part, but when things didn’t work out with the other actor — James Remar — one of the film’s producers phoned Biehn, who they knew from “The Terminator.”
He arrived on set after production had started. The other actors and crew had been working together for weeks, so he was new to everyone. But Biehn found the set to be friendly, fun and full of energy.
“When you’re on a set and you see how talented (Cameron) is and you love the script, you love the characters, there’s a feeling of like, ‘Hey, this could be something special,’ ” he said. “ ‘Aliens’ is the most successful movie that I’ve ever been in. And, without a doubt, it holds up.”
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Walking through the expansive sci-fi sets at Pinewood Studios in London and gearing up for battle scenes reminded Biehn of playing war when he was a child.
“As far as I’m concerned, I was basically doing the same thing on the set of ‘Aliens’ as I was doing in my backyard in Lincoln, Nebraska, with my brother,” he said.
Though Biehn was born in Alabama, his family moved to Lincoln when he was young. His first memories are of going to preschool in the capital city, he said.
“I basically consider myself a Lincolnite,” he said.
He remembers walking past William Jennings Bryan’s house on the way to school. He remembers trips to Omaha for wrestling tournaments. He remembers seeing Nebraska basketball players like Stu Lantz at the gym. He especially remembers Saturdays in the fall.
“I know that stadium,” Biehn said. “Nebraska football games, that was pretty much the height of the week. Nobody missed a Nebraska football game. ... Everybody with their red and ‘Go Big Red’ stuff — thousands and thousands of people — that was always a fun time.”
(Biehn’s family’s ties to Nebraska go back even further. His father, Don, was born in Fairbury, but later moved to Illinois. After college at Rutgers, Don Biehn graduated with a law degree from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln before joining the Army. After he was discharged, he moved to Lincoln with his family, including Michael. Don even served on the school board for the Lincoln Public Schools.)
Later, the family moved to Lake Havasu City, Arizona, where Biehn went to high school. He then briefly attended the University of Arizona — “from 1974 to 1974,” he joked — before heading to L.A. to pursue acting.
Biehn landed an uncredited role in “Grease,” a recurring role in the TV series “The Runaways” and a few more minor roles before starring in “The Terminator,” which he considers one of his favorite roles. His prominent roles in “Tombstone” and “Planet Terror” (Sheriff Hague) followed, along with numerous TV roles.
Biehn also reprised his role as Hicks in an “Aliens” video game.
These days, the 62-year-old Biehn continues to act, and he’s producing films with his wife, Jennifer Blanc.
When he returns for the “Aliens” screening, Biehn said he plans to head back to Lincoln to check things out.
“I know Lincoln like the back of my hand,” Biehn said. “It’ll be fun to go back and see how much has changed.”