What the Hell Happened to Michael Biehn?
Michael Biehn has starred in some classic science fiction/action movies. Even if you don’t know his name (and odds are you don’t) you know his characters from James Cameron’s early hit movies. If things had gone just a little bit differently, he would have been a household name. Instead, he’s doing voice work for video games.
What the hell happened?
Come with me if you want to know.
Biehn made his inauspicious debut on the 1977 TV show based on the 1976 sci-fi movie, Logan’s Run. The show, like the movie, was set in a dystopian future (is there any other kind?). The world has been ravaged by war. Rather than sending Michael Biehn back in time to save humanity as any sensible person would, this future society puts its citizens to death at age 30. A reasonable back-up plan, I suppose. Anyone who decides that maybe they want to live past 30 is called a “runner”. The agents who track down runners are called “sandmen” because apparently the rulers of the dystopian future have a wicked sense of satire.
Logan, our hero, is a sandman who becomes a runner in order to infiltrate their sanctuary. He is aided by a girl named Jenny and pursued by a fellow sandman who used to be his best friend. Biehn played a nameless sandman named… Sandman. I told you he was nameless. But if it makes you feel better, you can call him Kyle Reese. I’m sure he’s used to it.
Biehn’s role consisted of two lines. Actually, it was one line repeated. Biehn remembers being nervous about delivering the same line twice on TV:
I was scared. I only had two lines, and they were the same line: “Runner headed toward Quadrant Four!” I haven’t seen it in 35 years, but I remember doing it, sitting there and going over it and over it until they said, “Action!” And when they did, I said it the first time, and then my mind went blank. I was like, “Oh, my God, what’s my other line?” And then I went, “Oh, right: ‘Runner headed toward Quadrant Four!’” [Laughs.] So, yeah, I managed to get through those two lines, and that was my first time on film.
In 1978, Biehn made his big screen debut opposite Cathy Lee Crosby in the sports comedy, Coach.
Before I talk about Coach, let’s reminisce about its star, Cathy Lee Crosby. Crosby was cast as Wonder Woman before Lynda Carter in a 1974 TV movie. For some reason, she looked like this:
Later, Crosby would go on to host the hit 80’s TV show, That’s Incredible.
In Coach, Crosby played an Olympic Gold medalist hired to coach the boys basketball team. When the school’s sexist principle realizes that he has hired a woman, he tries to sabotage the team so he can fire her. Biehn played her star player.
Biehn talked about what it was like to hang out with the future host of That’s Incredible:
Well… You know, I was very young, I was very enamored with Cathy Lee Crosby… [Laughs.] As I think she was with me. I haven’t seen that movie in 20 or 30 years, but I think it was cute enough, I think it was fun enough, I don’t think there was anything horrifically stupid about it. It was an exploitation movie. It used sex exploitation. But I think I had a character in there who was attractive, and I had a lot of fun making it, playing basketball and hanging out with Cathy Lee Crosby. It wasn’t too bad for a 19-year-old kid from Arizona.
Seeing as Coach is an exploitation movie, of course it has a fan in director Quentin Tarantino. Internet legend has it that Tarantino invited Biehn to his house for a screening. Biehn denies the rumor. He says he has been to Tarantino’s house, Tarantino does own a print of Coach, and they have discussed the movie in detail. But he has not watched the movie with Tarantino.
Later that year, Biehn played another basketball hopeful. Only, instead of making out with the blonde Wonder Woman, he got punched in the gut by John Travolta in Grease.
Next: Teen Idol and The Fan
Posted on March 8, 2014, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actor and tagged Aliens, Bill Paxton, James Cameron, Michael Biehn, navy seals, The Rock, The Terminator, Tombstone. Bookmark the permalink. 115 Comments.