[Interview] Anthony Michael Hall for HALLOWEEN KILLS
Courtesy of Blumhouse and Universal Pictures
In HALLOWEEN KILLS, minutes after Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) left masked monster Michael Myers caged and burning in Laurie’s basement, Laurie is rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, believing she finally killed her lifelong tormentor. But when Michael manages to free himself from Laurie’s trap, his ritual bloodbath resumes. As Laurie fights her pain and prepares to defend herself against him, she inspired all of Haddonfield to rise up against their unstoppable monster.

Recently, Nightmarish Conjurings’ Shannon McGrew had the opportunity to chat with actor Anthony Michael Hall where they discussed everything from what it feels like to be a part of this franchise to coming face to face with Michael Myers on set and taking on the role of Tommy Dole.

I’m assuming you’re a fan of the franchise, so when did you first experience watching Halloween, and how does it feel to now be part of the franchise?

Anthony Michael Hall: I’ll answer the second part first. I’m thrilled about it. Honestly, I’ve never been a part of a franchise and I think part of what makes it so exciting is two things, like the fact that David delivered and did such a great job. Working for these guys, I was a fan of theirs for years. I loved all their shows. I love Danny [McBride]. David, I have great respect for as a director going into this project. And then since working with them, that’s only grown. I mean, it’s really been a very exciting thing.

We shot the movie two years ago and I think that two things are really exciting, the anticipation and the build-up is great. Just the fact that to be a part of a franchise film like this, that people are really anticipating is really exciting. And then the flip side of that is just knowing what a great job that David and our whole team did. It makes it even more exciting, you know? I just met Jason Blum about 20 minutes ago for the first time. I thanked him profusely and at the same time I said, look, that was a great decision too because I think this buildup, the excitement is contributing to it. Obviously, a lot of us had many delays with COVID and everything. But in this case, I think it works really well for it cause I think there’s a hunger and an appetite for this film. I’m just so thrilled that everybody is kind of unanimous that it’s just such a great film. It just really services the audience and is really a thrill ride from start to finish. So, I’m just amped about that.

There have been previous actors who have taken on the role of Tommy Doyle at different stages of the character’s life. When it came to your portrayal of him, what was your approach to make him unique to you?

Anthony Michael Hall: It’s interesting cause, during the making of the film, David [Gordon Green] one day texted me and was like, I got a call from Paul Rudd. He was like, he gives you his blessing for the film and I’m like, “That’s great. I didn’t know he was the Vatican. Okay. Good.” [Laughs] So, it was really cool to hear that cause I’m a big fan of Paul’s.

When I saw the first Halloween I remember…I’m 53 so, in 1978 when the original was made and hit theaters I was 10 years old. So, by the time it hit cable, either Showtime or Cinemax, I remember watching it when my parents had gone out for dinner with friends and just the excitement around it, the suspense. I remember visibly watching those scenes of being stalked in a very third person way by Myers, but you don’t really know it’s Myers yet, you know what I mean? So, I remember that vividly as a kid. And, to be very honest, I always had a crush on Jamie Lee. I’ve always loved Jamie Lee and her husband, Christopher Guest, is awesome too. So, I’m just really excited to be a part of it.

The way this all developed was in 2019, I had a meeting with David and then I did my screen test. Then next thing you know, I was in Wilmington, North Carolina, and it just couldn’t have been a cooler set. It was just a great crew and everybody was all in and just brought their best to the table. There were still a lot of laughs, even though we were making a horror film. Great sense of humor and a great comradery amongst the crew, which always makes the project better, you know?

Michael Myers (aka The Shape) in Halloween Kills | Photo Credit: Ryan Green/Universal Pictures

One of my favorite moments in the film takes place in the hospital where we find you and Judy Greer in a corridor where a mob of people are trying to eliminate who they believe is Michael Myers. Can you talk about the importance of that moment and do you think that was a major turning point for Tommy? 

Anthony Michael Hall: I do. And I also think it’s a great, without giving away spoilers, it’s a great misdirect for the audience. It kind of takes them down this path and we feel justified in pursuing that. I kind of lead the town and without giving it away, we know what happens and it’s very shocking. So yeah, I think that I did know the relevance and the importance of that moment. But then seeing it work in the film was a whole other thing, you know? Cause the truth is when we were in the hospital, all those background artists, they were great. I mean, we had such a great AD team, honestly, it’s not just a lip service. We had such a great crew and often the extras are being corralled and it’s like, “Okay. Run down the hallway. Now run across the hallway. Now come back this way…,” so, there’s this insanity going on.

But back to the film, as you said, you set it up beautifully, like it’s a major plot point in act one, which is meant to divert the audience and I think it does it very effectively. But then the weight of it is powerful because when you see the film… David Lowe, who played Lance Tovoli, unfortunately, passed since making the film. He was such a great guy so, that was a really key moment and sequence of the first act of the film. It really gets everything going because the audience is obviously with all the survivors of the town and all the locals, and then, as you know, what happens is a real kind of off-the-rails moment. And I think Jamie has spoken very eloquently about how the world sadly has kind of mirrored the film in some ways. A lot of it is very interesting and it seems happenstance. There are both elements that Jamie speaks to about trauma, not only for the Strode women, and they’re all fantastic in the movie. They really are, but for the town itself. I think another great thing that Danny and David and Scott pulled off is to kind of stay true to the mythology of Myers and the town and the Strodes. And, at the same time, introduce these characters from the original, which is a really incredible feat if you think about it because they did it very effortlessly, to be honest.

Can you talk about Old Huckleberry, the baseball bat you use throughout the film, and the importance of it? 

Anthony Michael Hall: You know what’s so funny, I don’t think I’m giving it away, but it was about a week or 10 days into the shoot and David brought that to my attention. I don’t remember it being in the original script. He just thought it was fitting if I had a weapon. So, what we did is we placed that bat, which as you know is named Huckleberry…The guy who runs the bar in the film. This is a guy that is actually friends with David and he knows him from Austin. He actually owns a barbecue restaurant. That gentleman’s name is Brian, who plays the bar owner. [David] hires actors and non-actors, he can kind of make magic with anybody and I thought that was really cool, but he gives plenty of space and creates moments for all these other supporting actors.

I don’t want to give anything away, but how was it when you first came in contact with Michael Myers on set?  

Anthony Michael Hall: It was very intuitive. I wanted to give him space and at the same time, conversely, he gave me space. There’s a great artist anticipation, even on set, each department can kind of anticipate each other. There’s a vibe when you’re working with great professionals that they kind of know to give each other space or they kind of work with each other, you know? So, there’s that thing. I kind of kept myself a little bit distant because I was playing a killer in my own right. Someone who’s leading the town against Myers. Even though it’s make-believe, as an actor you really have to make those circumstances real for yourself. With my own prep, I do any number of things. I listen to music. I stretch. I shadow box. I do all kinds of stuff, but I distance myself a little bit so then when I’m meeting whoever it is on screen. It can be fresh, and a lot of those things that I do are just really me trying to loosen myself up. Also, just seeing how that department handled it. Christopher Nelson is pretty brilliant with this and he creates that whole world for Myers, and James Jude as well. He does a great job. He’s a former stuntman, so he really inhabits the role and does some really interesting things in creating that physicality for him. So, it was very interesting to see everybody’s work come together.

With the movie done and out in the world, looking back at your character and the film, what did you take away from the experience?

Anthony Michael Hall: I’m just happy how the film worked [Laughs]. It’s that thing where you’re like, did any of my scenes get cut? [Laughs]. It’s very satisfying from a personal standpoint because I felt like everything that I wanted to convey came across. Not only is Tommy heroic, but I think everybody, Kyle [Richards] and Nancy [Stevens] and all the actors there, they’re given that turn to make, representing the light side and battling the dark. I was really satisfied, I was proud of my performance and happy with the work I did and equally important, very proud of everybody’s work. The big takeaway is that it’s just a thrill ride. It’s really a film that services the audience and I think fans of the franchise will love it. They’re going to be shocked and blown away, but it really holds up and it lives up to the expectation that it has. The last one was such a massive hit, so I’m really proud of the fact that everybody’s kind of unanimous about it, that it really delivers. So, that’s what is really exciting plus the anticipation from the audience, they’ll see things colliding and it’s pretty cool.

HALLOWEEN KILLS is now in theaters and streaming only on Peacock. For more on the film, check out our review here.

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