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Tommy Doyle actor Anthony Michael Hall sees a lot of John Hughes heart in Halloween Kills, even with all the blood
Halloween (2018) was Laurie Strode’s story, first and foremost. As the reigning queen of the franchise, Jamie Lee Curtis — who’s portrayed Laurie since John Carpenter’s 1978 classic — had the spotlight alongside Judy Greer and Andi Matichak, who played Laurie’s estranged daughter, Karen, and granddaughter, Allyson, respectively. In Halloween Kills, premiering in theaters and on Peacock on Oct. 15, the trio of scream queens-turned-warrior women are only part of an ensemble cast of townies new and old. One of them in particular, Tommy Doyle, is a returning character with a different actor behind the name.
Anthony Michael Hall (War Machine, The Dark Knight) may be new to David Gordon Green’s Halloween sequels, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a lover of the franchise. Over the decades, the character of Tommy Doyle has had several iterations showing how he might have grown up, but Halloween Kills wipes the slate clean. This Tommy is a community leader and a survivor saddled with the curse of knowledge; knowledge of what Michael Myers can do to an unsuspecting town convinced it’s moved beyond those dangers from decades past.
“[David] was giving me this hero role, which is really wonderful,” Hall says. “A lot of it is based on, as Jaime Lee talks about, the trauma of the characters and what the town has gone through. [The creators] opened it up by making it more of an ensemble… effortlessly including these other characters that people loved. It was just great. I don't want to give anything away, but they did a great job. It really comes to life, and there's also fair room for everybody.”
Read on for our spoiler-free interview with Hall, and learn more when Halloween Kills premieres in theaters and on Peacock on Oct. 15.
Do you remember the first time that you saw John Carpenter's Halloween?
I was probably 11 years old, I remember watching it on TV. And I loved it. Honestly, I loved it. But since then, to be very honest, I don't really follow the genre that much, but this one I'm pumped about. And really I don't think I've ever been more excited about a movie. So I'm really looking forward to seeing people react.
You know, I kind of stumbled [into] a lot of people on YouTube every day [while] researching stuff and looking for fun stuff to explore.
And these new sequels obviously rewrite some of those other sequels that people have been so passionate about for years. This is a different story for Tommy in Halloween Kills. What about this version of Tommy is different in your mind from the Tommy that people have gotten to know in other sequels?
I did recently see the version that Paul Rudd did [in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers], and that was obviously a different time frame. So it's a different universe for the franchise.
But you brought up a great point. I think what's brilliant about what David Gordon Green and Scott [Teems] and Danny McBride did with the film is they were able to spin it. So they take the original and they reintroduce these characters in the sequel, but also the bigger plan is the trilogy. So it's all unfolding. So I thought not just for Tommy, but for all the characters, I thought it was brilliant how they created space with these other characters. And it extends to not just the locals that we knew from '78, but [new characters, too].
David does really cool things. It's almost Felliniesque kind of stuff, you know? Where you can work with non-actors just like he can work with comedic or dramatic actors or what have you. I found him to be brilliant. He was so cool and so loose, and then also very collaborative throughout the whole process. The best idea can come from anywhere. He also had that spirit, which was really impressive. That kind of humility from someone who was that established is great.
As far as collaboration goes, what specifically stood out to you when you were talking with David Gordon Green or even Jamie Lee Curtis about embodying this role?
I didn't really discuss it with Jamie Lee. She just — it's so funny. The quick story is this is how I was introduced: I met her when I was a kid, maybe in the '80s. I think I was at the premiere of that movie Perfect that she did. I was 15 or 16; she was super cool. So the way I was re-introduced, is all of a sudden I see these bloodied hands appear in front of my face. We're two weeks into shooting, and so I see these two bloodied hands kind of shaking in my face, I thought it was hilarious. Between the fingers, I could see Jamie Lee's face, and she was like, "Hi." Gave me a big hug. She's just super cool. She's got a great, very positive maternal spirit about her, and she really loves people. That's what comes across when you're around her. Being a big boss on this and having been a part of this from the beginning, having been a part of so much of its success, she's just humble about it. She's always deferential to Jason and to David Gordon and John Carpenter and Debra Hill.
Speaking of blood, because we can’t not talk about it with a Halloween movie: Is there anything while shooting this that really stands out to you as being particularly difficult or particularly gory?
No — I think just the opposite. It was almost this spirit of fun. It was Halloween for the crew while we were making the movie, you know what I mean? Every day felt like that. And I think there's also, you'd be surprised, a great amount of laughter, just because those guys are awesome, and they lead by example. They're great comedic creators, Danny and David, too. Really funny guys, you know? So to be honest, I saw a lot of John Hughes in here. They [had] just this natural ease about them, and [are] great, gifted writers and great collaborators, but no ego. Just totally fun-loving and that's incredible too. When I look back on my career, I think that's the most impressive, because I think about the people that were inspired while working — grateful for the work while doing a good job. You know how it is. Not everybody has that attitude when they go to work.
Does that spirit of collaboration make you want to do more horror films?
I am interested in developing more stuff. I have something that I'm writing, which is interesting — it's kind of in the supernatural vein, more than all-out horror. But it's supernatural horror kind of. I think I'm more interested in them now, absolutely.
I think there's something really fascinating too about this genre where you think about Myers and what he represents to people. It's the total anti-hero, even though he's the villain. And that's what's fascinating about horror films. In particular these franchises, the Halloween, Jason, you know what I mean, the top three. They have these protagonists that are just hateful criminals. But that's what people want to see. So it's so funny when you hear them talk about it, they're beloved characters.
They're out here killing people, but folks love to see it and they also want to see the villain killed — but not really.
They're compelled, right? So that's really interesting to me. That aspect of what it takes, what these kinds of films do to people. I was doing some research on [what] I'm writing, and looking back at the effects of The Exorcist and how that affected people... or The Blair Witch Project, or other films that are genre, but they take it to another level because there's also information downloads happening too in those films.
I think with Halloween, this is incredible. The hero is the villain. And like you said, everybody wants to see him killed. It may be in the title, guys!
What was it like seeing, speaking of Michael, seeing him in his full regalia?
I don't think I'm talking out of school here, I don't want to break any confidentiality agreements I had, but basically he's referred to as The Shape, which I think everybody knew, but I didn't know that going in. So it wasn't ever like “Myers” on the call sheet. It was more of “The Shape.”
But there's another aspect too, like Christopher Nelson [head of special make-up FX], he and his team [are] fantastic artists. They're in the mix every day… They're either preparing his masks or setting up blood shots.