Non-Horror Fan Anthony Michael Hall Shares What Drew Him To Halloween Kills [Interview]

Anthony Michael Hall has had one heck of a career, and is one of those child stars that managed to navigate the tumultuous business that is Hollywood, coming out on the other side, still working to this day. The star, known for his work with John Hughes in "The Breakfast Club" among many other things, is getting a chance to chew the scenery in a big way in "Halloween Kills," which recently hit theaters as well as Peacock. And it managed to do gangbusters business at the box office on its opening weekend.

For Hall, this represents his biggest role in a major franchise to date. While he did have a small part in the acclaimed "The Dark Knight," he is getting to play Tommy Doyle in the sequel to 2018's "Halloween." As many fans surely know, Tommy was one of the kids Jamie Lee Curtis' Laurie Strode was babysitting on that famed night in 1978 when Michael Myers came back to Haddonfield, Illinois. Now, we get to see Tommy all grown up, and he's had enough of Michael's s**t. As has the rest of the town, which brings mob mentality to the city and sets the events of director David Gordon Green's sequel in motion.

I recently had the good fortune of speaking with Hall all about his big role in the horror flick. We discuss how he put himself in Tommy's shoes, how this compares to his work in the "Batman" franchise, and much more.

"I think this idea of people wanting to be shocked, and why is that?"

So we're here to talk about "Halloween Kills," but I've been an enormous fan since the first time my mom sat me down and made me watch the original. My mom was that kind of mom. It was pretty cool. I'm just curious, man. What was your relationship to the franchise like before signing on to do the flick?

So when I saw it, the film came out in '78, so I didn't see it in the theaters. I saw it on cable when cable was new, like streaming. It had to be '79 or '80. That's a distinct memory for me because my parents had left and gone out for the night. I grew up in New York City, where I'm calling you from now. So it was exciting on two levels. My parents went out for the night, I had it on cable. To be very honest, I always had a crush on Jamie Lee [Curtis]. Even then, when I saw her in that film and then years later in "Trading Places" and stuff.

So I remember those images of her walking down through the streets of Haddonfield, those big wide-angle images. She was crossing the street and getting ready for Halloween. Then that John Carpenter, such a good filmmaker, but also that soundtrack left an indelible mark, right? It really is this kind of classic franchise, 43 years and running. I do remember it because I was home alone that night and I was freaked out. I was like, this movie is incredible. It's very intense. So I was probably 11 or 12 years old at that time.

Oh man, that is the perfect time for that movie, too. You're just old enough to know a little better, but you're also still young enough to be very scared by that sort of thing.

That's a great point you just made. Absolutely, man. Absolutely. Over all of these years up in the industry — I'm not a huge horror fan. I don't really follow the genre so much. But this franchise I have. That first viewing of it, as you said, for all of the reasons we discussed, it was fun. It was interesting.

Well, I guess that's why I asked. Because what's interesting, is you talk to so many people. I love horror, but you talk to so many actors and people, and Jamie's this way, where they don't like horror really, outside of being involved in it.

Yeah, No, it is interesting. You know what I think? I thought about this in the weeks leading up to this press tour, but there's something... First of all, the stakes of good versus evil. Whether it's in literature or going back to the Western turn in the movies, 50, 75 years ago. Or the Marvel films. This cost of good versus evil is great. But I think this idea of people wanting to be shocked, and why is that? Whether it's the Day of the Dead festival in Mexico or horror films. Why is it that people unconsciously or subconsciously want that? I think it's for just the thrill of it. It also might be some way of processing this, to be honest. Not to be too heady. Do you know what I mean?

No, totally.

The audiences love the thrill. They love that shock. So I think that you make a good point because I think it's, especially being a part of this franchise now, I see that. Audiences really love it. Again, back to the fan base. They can tell you about every minute, every timeline, every secret. It's such a diehard audience of followers of this franchise. It just added to it all for me. Especially with the delay. I had all this last year to kind of... I was on YouTube like a lot of people every day, and they were looking for stuff and looking for inspiration. I would track all these kind of reaction videos and people with their own YouTube shows and fans of the franchise. That got me even more pumped up, this last year waiting for the film.

So ultimately, I think it's a good thing. The anticipation is what makes it exciting. This added wait of another year, hopefully will pay off at the box office, because there's a real hunger and appetite for people to see it. So I'm just so pumped about that. That's a great feeling in itself. But you're right. The idea of why do people love scary stuff? I think it's as important as drama or comedy, to be very honest, because it's a ride that people want to go on and experience. David really made an audience-friendly film. Even though it sounds ironic because it's a slasher horror film, but it really is, man. It's an hour and 46 minutes of just a freight train coming. It's just terrible. So I'm just so excited, those two things. We know we have a good movie that we're all very proud of, and there's such a great and hungry audience anticipating it. It makes it great.

"We're not all frowning making a horror film."

Well, you mentioned David. I remember, because I had been waiting for a while for a new one, and I remember when they said David and Danny [McBride] were doing it. I just thought they were such interesting choices. You wouldn't have thought of them. But as someone who's worked with them now obviously, or at least David. I don't know if you worked with Danny too much. What was it like working with them, and what do you think they bring to it? Or specifically David, I guess.

Well, let me say a couple of things about that. That's a great question. I saw a real interesting similarity in a few different ways between David Gordon Green and John Hughes, and I'll get back to that in a second. Let me just tell you about working with both of them. I was thrilled. I was a big fan of his. I actually went looking for some of their previous HBO series. I've always been a huge fan of Danny's, as well. I love Danny as a comedian. I just think he's awesome. To me, he's like a modern-day Bill Murray. I just love the guy.

He's incredible.

So, you're right. Yeah, he really is. He's such a funny guy, such a good talent, such a humble, nice, down-to-earth kind of guy. You were correct. We didn't have too much work time [together] but he was there the first week. And here's why, because they're producing "Righteous Gemstones" in South Carolina. So he was kind of going upstate, going north to oversee and run that. But that was one of the things when I first met with David back in August of 2019, Ryan, that was interesting. Was that, first of all, he shows up at the lobby bar. We're sitting there having a beer and he was just cool. He was wearing a Bob Seger T-shirt. He was on a first-name basis with the bartender. He was just so chill and relaxed, man.

So we talked about their process. He went from comedy to this franchise. But again, it goes back to the script, where he did a great job. Because I think what's so cool is they thread all the characters as you know them now with all the kids from '78 to 2018 to the present. They just did a phenomenal job. Danny, David and then Scott Teems, their writing partner.

So it was very cool on all those levels. Back to my thing about David and John Hughes. Their issues are paramount because they're just such nice, affable guys. David Grew up in Dallas. He's a humble, nice guy. So easy to talk to, so fun, and very inclusive in his process and collaborative. So when we were on set, he's in constant conversation with not just the cinematographer, [but] the guys on the crew [as well]. They also have a very loyal crew of men and women that have worked for them for 15 years doing all these shows and stuff. That was very interesting to me and it reminded me, shot me right back to the early '80s as a kid working with John. Because again, the parallels are this, more specifically. Great writer/director, really talented filmmaker. A writer/director people expect to see his films.

Totally.

But then again, just that niceness, that genuine goodness. He's a great guy, man. He was really fun to work with. Also, wants to laugh, too. So it wasn't all seriousness. We're not all frowning making a horror film. We were laughing our asses off, too, sometimes. But then also these distinct departments. Christopher Nelson with the special effects and created the mask. Michael Simmons, our cinematographer. Great crew. Then all these powerhouse women. Jamie Lee, Judy Greer, or Andi [Matichak]. Even Kyle [Richards] was fantastic in the film. Nancy Stephens. Just a real privilege.

It was one of those unique experiences in my career, Ryan, where everything was coming together, all the elements are there. It's so cool when you work with talented people that are really impressive as people. They're humble and down-to-earth and fun-loving, too. So it was a great experience for all these reasons.

"They transcend just being victims or survivors and it goes to this other place."

You're playing Tommy Doyle, who was a kid from the original as fans will surely know. The big thing is this is sort of examining the trauma of that town and these people. If I may, how did you put yourself in the shoes of that traumatized kid, and then come back and have to play him as an adult?

I'll try to make it as spoiler-free as possible. Here's what's interesting about the arc of Tommy. As a kid that you know, he and Kyle Richard's character, which is Lindsey Wallace, are kids that Jamie Lee's character babysits, and then their other babysitter gets murdered.

Yes.

So what's interesting, is he goes through being bullied by Lonnie [Elam]. So he's a kid who's bullied, and at the same time, is experiencing, and Jamie Lee's character, Laurie, is experiencing the threat of my history through his eyes as well. As well as Kyle's, right? Lindsey Wallace's character. So for me, that arc was very interesting to go from and see who had that experience, who also was the first one who introduced that line of the charter of the Boogeyman, that comes from Tommy Wallace in the original. What I did is I set all that aside, because my discussions with David led me early on to believe that Tommy was really going to be the hero of the show.

Basically, everybody decides to rise up. They decide to fight. They decide to unify. So they transcend just being victims or survivors and it goes to this other place. In fairness to my other actors and the other co-workers on the film, that's honestly the arc that he gave to all of us. So everybody decides the buck stops here and we're going to put an end to this. We're going to rise up, we're going to unify and create a united front and seek this guy out. So you have this really interesting convention in the context of good versus evil, where the whole town says, all right, that's it. Now, it's so funny because in some of the recent interviews, Jamie Lee, she references this classic movie from the seventies called "Network" with Peter Finch.

Yeah, I love "Network."

Right? Great film. So it is that classic thing of everybody, remember, "I'm sick and tired, I'm not going to take it anymore."

Yeah. Totally.

That's really what the town of Haddonfield does. So, there are echoes and shades of "Network" there as well. But back to the action. It just takes off. You'll see it when you see it tonight. I think you'll approve and enjoy. It's an hour and 46 minutes, and it's just a thrill ride, honest to God it is. It's a freight train because it just keeps coming at you, this movie.

Obviously, doing what I do for a living, movies are a big part of my life. When this was the one that got delayed [last year], it was the one that I was the most bummed about because I love the 2018 one so much where I was just like, damn it.

Oh cool. Right. Wait another year.

Yeah.

Also what's funny, too, Ryan, is that contributes. It adds to the build-up. The fact that there's such a nice anticipation for it, it's so cool to be part of a franchise when you know people are waiting to see it. That's new for me because other than "The Dark Knight," I haven't been a part of a huge franchise like this. So it's very exciting and new for me, too. As I was joking with you, what's been fun this last year is just going on YouTube and finding all these fan sites and YouTube shows, and these citizen journalists who do these reaction videos.

Totally.

It's given me an opportunity to go to "Halloween" University. But I'm learning about all the 11 other films. They have different actors and characters. Man, these fans are so diehard. It's very exciting to unleash it on them. At home a couple of weeks ago, I texted David to see how he was doing. He happened to be in Venice, Italy right before the premiere. He was too cool and warm and usual, and he said, "Oh, I'm here with Jamie Lee." I just sent them love, and he goes, "I can't wait to unleash this movie on the world." I would quote David there. He said that. I can't wait for it to be unleashed this Friday.

"I would do it again in a second."

That's awesome. Well, I don't want to take too much of your time, man, but you did touch on something I did want to ask you about. You were in "The Dark Knight." Now you're in "Halloween." These are two legendary franchises. Your role in this movie appears to be more prominent compared to your role in "The Dark Knight." How would you compare those two experiences? Being associated with two of these touchstones of pop culture in such wildly different ways?

Honestly, it's humbling. It really is. I'm very grateful for it because I had a very auspicious start back in the early '80s, just a kid with John Hughes, and the fact that those films have found an audience. He became such a great director and of comedy. That part of my career was a great entry point. It was an incredible way to start. As you said, with these two franchises, I was over the moon.

I was finishing up my sixth season of "The Dead Zone" when "The Dark Knight" came up, and I had auditioned months before that. So when I got the call to play that part, I was really excited. I remember going over to Europe, I had an artist friend of mine had been commissioned to do a painting of "The Dark Knight." I mean, the "Batman Begins" poster, where he's sitting there, standing in silhouette with all the bats flying around.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I had a buddy of mine paint that, so I gave that as a gift to Chris Nolan. I flew to London and I gave that to him and his wife as a gift as a thank you. Then we started production. That was actually day one shot on "The Dark Knight" all those years [ago in] 2007. So to your question, yeah. I had the same level of excitement, because again, as a kid I wasn't really into comic books. Batman I loved since the early '70s. I used to watch the TV show, which was really kind of fun and funny. But I always loved Batman. So I say very privileged, very honored, and very humbled to be a part of it. It goes back to that human level, just working with such cool people. They really were down to earth. There really was great synergy.

Oftentimes, people they say these things when they're introduced, but you don't know if it's legit. But it really was. On "The Dark Knight," a great experience as well. I got to shoot in London and Chicago, and I got to meet actors that I admired growing up, like Gary Oldman, and I've always respected Christian Bale a great deal. He's a very talented guy. Heath [Ledger] was just in the zone. He was phenomenal, as we all know. He was great at that part. So another great experience. But this one is like times ten. I'm even more amped.

In theory, because horror franchises are what they are, "Halloween Ends" is coming up. Should the opportunity arise, would you come back as Tommy in the next one?

In a split second, I would say yes. Absolutely. It would be a privilege. I would do it again in a second. What I explained to you today about working with David, and just being fans of him and Danny. I love those guys. It was a really good work experience. Interesting, too, not a long shoot. It was only about a six-week shoot. It went pretty quick. We had nights, too. It was mostly nights. so I enjoyed all that.

"Halloween Kills" is in theaters and streaming on Peacock now.