|Born|| 5 May 1940|
New York City
Henriksen was born in New York City. His father, James Marin Henriksen, was a Norwegian merchant sailor and boxer nicknamed "Icewater" who spent most of his life at sea. His mother, Margueritte Werner, struggled to find work as a dance instructor, waitress, and model.[ His parents divorced when he was two years old, and he was raised by his mother. As he grew up, Henriksen found himself in trouble at various schools and even saw the inside of a children's home. Henriksen left home] and dropped out of school at the age of twelve. He would not learn to read until he was 30, when he taught himself by studying film scripts. Henriksen served in the United States Navy from 1955-1958 and attained the rank of Petty Officer Third Class.
Henriksen's first job in the theater world was as a designer of theatrical sets; in fact, he received his first role because he built the set for the production. In his early 30s, Henriksen graduated from the prestigious Actors Studio and began acting in New York City. In film, he first appeared in It Ain't Easy in 1972. Henriksen went on to portray a variety of supporting roles in noteworthy genre films such as Dog Day Afternoon, Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and Damien: Omen II (1978).
When James Cameron was writing the movie The Terminator (1984), he had originally envisioned Henriksen, whom he had worked with on Piranha II: The Spawning, playing the title role. Cameron was to paint a picture of the Terminator using Henriksen's face. Regardless, the role ultimately went to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Henriksen did appear in the film, albeit in the minor role of Detective Hal Vukovich. Henriksen is perhaps best known for portraying the android Bishop, an artificial life-form, in Aliens (1986, another Cameron film) and Alien 3 (1992). He would go on to play Charles Bishop Weyland, the man Bishop's appearance was based on, in Alien vs. Predator (2004).