Paul Rudd Happily Passed The Halloween Kills Baton On To Anthony Michael Hall

Paul Rudd is one of Hollywood's biggest stars, and while fans may know him as Josh from the 1995 teen comedy film "Clueless," superhero Ant-Man from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or even as Phoebe's husband from the sitcom "Friends," I first saw the actor in "Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers," one of his earliest roles. Funny enough, that was the first "Halloween" movie I saw, so for a while I regarded Rudd as the original Tommy Doyle; of course, that distinction goes to Brian Andrews, who played the little boy Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) babysits and protects from Michael Myers in John Carpenter's 1978 original. But whenever I saw Rudd pop up on TV, I'd yell, "Aye, that's Tommy Doyle!" 

The role, however, is just a footnote in the career of People magazine's 2021 "Sexiest Man Alive." Not long ago, some of my friends considered my revelation that Ant-Man once starred in the sixth installment of the "Halloween" franchise as an "odd fact." Rudd's performance in the 1995 slasher flick gained more recognition after the reboot renewed interest in the franchise, and a "Halloween Kills" featurette revealed a reunion of original characters. Furthermore, longtime franchise director Malek Akkad and the director of the reboot trilogy, David Gordon Green, revealed that they originally wanted Rudd to return to the "Halloween" universe to portray Tommy Doyle once more. Scheduling conflicts got in the way, and the role was awarded to Michael Anthony Hall. But Rudd was more than happy to pass the baton. "A couple of weeks into production David called me and said he had just spoken to Paul Rudd," Hall told GamesRadar. "I admire Paul's work a lot, so he gave me his blessing on the film, which was nice of him to do."

Anthony Michael Hall takes the reins

Anthony Michael Hall also told GamesRadar that his version of Tommy Doyle would be different from Paul Rudd's, and he couldn't have been more right. With The Shape back on the loose in Haddonfield, Il. in 2021's "Halloween Kills," a now middle-aged Tommy Doyle vows to protect a wounded and bedridden Laurie from the personification of evil. "Evil dies tonight," he exclaims as he rallies a group of vigilantes to hunt down Myers. This version of the character is way more headstrong, which isn't necessarily a good thing.

Though well-intentioned, his reckless pursuit of Myers makes him the most insufferable character in the film; he leads the charge as the vigilantes drive an innocent mental patient whom they presume to be Myers to jump to his death from a hospital window. While some have interpreted this as a commentary on mob mentality in response to the January 6th insurrection at U.S. Capitol, and Jamie Lee Curtis openly discussed the storyline's social relevancy with Variety, I saw it as also an homage to 1988's "Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers," in which vigilantes search for Myers but gun down an innocent man. Honestly, I just wish it wasn't Tommy Doyle who drives the vehicle to get these points across. We saw him get traumatized by Myers as a kid 40 years prior, so he deserved to grow up to be a true hero. 

Perhaps, my disliking of the character is rooted in a deeper issue, which is that I never wanted to see Anthony Michael Hall as Tommy Doyle. This is no knock on the iconic "The Breakfast Club" actor, trust me. It's just that I had someone else in mind for the role.  

Will the real Tommy Doyle please stand up?

What I enjoyed most about 2021's "Halloween Kills," other than the well-done flashbacks that transported me back to John Carpenter's 1978 masterpiece, was the return of the original characters. But I was bummed to learn that not all the original actors would reprise their roles. Sadly, Brian Andrews, the original Tommy Doyle, didn't return. I'm not sure if he was even considered for the role for "Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers," let alone "Halloween Kills."

According to his IMDb page, Andrews appears to have taken a near 30-year hiatus from acting. But he has been slightly more active since 2014. As of 2022, he is scheduled to star in a horror movie called "SamHain." The synopsis on IMDb reads: "A small town is turned upside down when a little boy is kidnapped and murdered while trick-or-treating, on Halloween night." That sounds a lot like Haddonfield. In fact, the word Samhain appears in the 1981 "Halloween" sequel and was used to plant the seeds of the  heavily scrutinized Cult of Thorn storyline that critics say almost killed the franchise. Interestingly, the Cult of Thorn storyline culminates in the "The Curse of Michael Myers." I wonder if Andrews happily passed the Tommy Doyle baton to Paul Rudd back then. 

Though getting Rudd's blessing was a big deal for Anthony Michael Hall, I imagine it would have been a bigger honor if he had gotten the thumbs-up from Andrews. Though I have childhood nostalgia for Rudd's Tommy Doyle, I must be unbiased. Andrews' portrayal is more iconic and memorable by far. Unfortunately, since Tommy Doyle is apparently killed by Michael Myers in "Halloween Kills," it's almost certain that we fans won't ever get to see Andrews reprise his role.