Family & Companions
Star of a number of classic John Hughes high school comedies in the 1980s, Anthony Michael Hall reinvented himself after a rocky transition to adult roles. Hall's breakout as a gawky but self-possessed freshman geek opposite Molly Ringwald in "Sixteen Candles" (1984) led to similar outcast roles in "The Breakfast Club" (1985) and "Weird Science" (1985), cementing the freckled actor's status as the '80s nerd-of-choice. He was considered a member of Hollywood's Brat Pack, a loosely associated group of young actors who surfaced ad nauseum in dozens of high school and young adult movies of the era, though Hall disassociated himself from that scene and his typecasting when he unsuccessfully ventured into action films and sketch comedy on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ). Hall subsequently put aside his genuine comedic talent and likeable smartass appeal in favor of earnest TV movies and scowling villains in low budget films. He finally earned positive attention again in the new millennium as the paranormally powered protagonist of the Stephen King-based series, "The Dead Zone" (USA, 2002-07), which brought him back into the spotlight and effectively erased his status as a kid-star has-been. Along with recurring roles on TV series including teen comedy "Awkward" (MTV 2011-16) and "Murder in the First" (TNT 2014-16), Hall appeared in character roles in films including the Batman blockbuster "The Dark Knight" (2008), Bennett Miller's acclaimed drama "Foxcatcher" (2014), Ben Affleck's Prohibition-set action drama "Live By Night" (2017) and satirical Iraq War comedy "War Machine" (2017).
Michael Anthony Hall was born April 14, 1968, and spent his early years moving around several times with his jazz singer mother. The pair settled in New York City where Hall, who would later transpose his first and middle name professionally, began acting in commercials. He made his stage debut at age eight, portraying the young Steve Allen in the musician and TV personality's semi-autobiographical play, "The Wake," and appeared onscreen in the TV movie "The Gold Bug" (ABC 1980), an adaptation of the short story by Edgar Allan Poe. The freckled pre-teen tackled another American literary classic, playing Huck Finn in the CBS TV movie "Rascals and Robbers: The Secret Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn" (1983). That same year, he made his film breakthrough in "National Lampoon's Vacation." Hall displayed natural comedic talent in his role as Rusty Griswold, the son of parents Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo, whose cross-country road trip to the fabled theme park Walley World is fraught with one setback after another.
His performance won over "Vacation" screenwriter John Hughes, who was about to make the jump to directing. Hughes immediately cast Hall as the braces-wearing, king of the geeks freshman who woos older teen Molly Ringwald in "Sixteen Candles" (1984). Again, Hall tossed off one-liners with ease and created a charming character that was debatably a more interesting choice for a boyfriend than Ringwald's hunky object of desire (Michael Schoeffling). Off-screen, the so-called nerd with no play did get the girl, with Hall and Ringwald enjoying a short-lived romance. Additionally, the actor took home a Young Artist Award for stealing the classic Gen-X high school picture. An impressed Hughes recruited Hall again to create a variation of his brainy outcast character in his follow-up, "The Breakfast Club" (1985), an ensemble high school flick that fulfilled Hughes' characteristic formula of creating animosity between stereotypical "geeks," "jocks," and "weirdoes." Hall had less comedy leeway in the earnest but perennially popular flick, but went on to be first-billed in Hughes' 1985 buddy comedy, "Weird Science" (1985), in which Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith played taunted "nerds" who use their computer savvy to create a perfect woman (Kelly LeBrock).
With four hit films in five years, offers flooded in, but in an unexpected turn, the 17-year-old left films behind and became the youngest repertory player ever hired on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ), where he re-teamed with "Vacation" co-star Randy Quaid and "Sixteen Candles" and "Weird Science" supporting player Robert Downey, Jr. in what would go down in history as one of the series' most critically derided and lowest-rated seasons. Hall further sought to go beyond his typecasting when he passed on parts written specifically for him by Hughes in two of the eighties' biggest hits, "Pretty in Pink" (1986) and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (1986). Meanwhile, the comedic actor's reputation as "difficult" grew amid reports of heavy drinking and "bratty" behavior on the sets of both the action-adventure "Out of Bounds" (1986) and football comedy "Johnny Be Good" (1988).
After only five years, Hall's once promising career lay in ruins until he was able to sober up, but following his almost unrecognizable performance as a beefed-up bully who torments Tim Burton's "Edward Scissorhands" (1990), the actor's profile remained extremely low. During the 1990s, Hall kept busy with a steady string of low-budget films and TV appearances, with the exception of his role as the lover of a con man imposter (Will Smith) who infiltrates New York's high society in "Six Degrees of Separation" (1993), based on the Pulitzer Prize-nominated play by John Guare. Hall's second notable effort of the 1990s was his 1999 portrayal of Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates in TNT's highly praised feature, "Pirates of Silicon Valley" (1999). Hall's unassuming and restrained performance revitalized his career, and showed a new, mature side to his acting as well as his personal demeanor since his 1980s heyday. Hall's career picked up at that point, and he was cast as the lead in "A Touch of Hope" (NBC, 1999) as real-life hands-on healer Dean Kraft, who discovered an ability to cure with his touch after comforting the victim of an automobile accident.
Continuing with a run of real-life portrayals, Hall next played renowned music producer Robert "Mutt" Lange in "Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story" (VH1, 2001), an inside look at the turbulent history of the British hard rock band who made good in the United States in the 1980s. After an appearance in the camp satire "Hitched" (USA, 2001), Hall played famed New York Yankees pitcher Whitey Ford in "61*" (HBO, 2001), a telling of the friendship between Roger Maris (Barry Pepper) and Mickey Mantle (Thomas Jane), and their on-the-field competition to break Babe Ruth's single season home run record in 1961. Hall had a supporting role in "The Photographer" (2001), a drama about a struggling photographer (Reg Rogers) on the hunt for 10 missing pictures that could save his foundering career, and was back in front of mainstream audiences with the Tom Green comedy "Freddy Got Fingered" (2001), in which he played a Hollywood executive who stifles the animation dreams of a former cheese factory worker (Green). In the crime comedy "All About the Benjamins" (2002), Hall also had a cameo as a scruffy fugitive whose Florida shack is busted by a freelance bounty hunter (Ice Cube).
Hall officially began a new era of his career in 2002 when he was cast as lead in the supernatural drama series, "The Dead Zone." The well-rated cable series was adapted from Stephen King's best-selling novel, and starred Hall as Johnny Smith, a former high school teacher who awakens from a car accident-induced coma with new psychic powers that prove to be both a blessing and a curse. "The Dead Zone" premiered to strong reviews and quickly developed a loyal audience, while often being credited with reviving interest in supernatural dramas. Hall earned a nomination for a 2003 Saturn Award for Best TV Actor by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, and during the series five-year run, also became a producer on the series. Following its cancellation in 2007, Hall took on a villainous role in the Hallmark Channel thriller, "Final Approach" (2008), and had a small role as a reporter in the blockbuster Batman sequel, "The Dark Knight" (2008). In 2009, Hall's off-screen behavior made news again, when the actor was arrested following an incident at an ex-girlfriend's apartment, where he was reportedly intoxicated and violent. A restraining order was filed against the actor, while news surfaced that he was being treated for bipolar disorder, and had had earlier violent outbursts on the set of "Dead Zone" when he failed to take his medication. He was back on television in 2010, in two villainous roles as a bully and a death row inmate, respectively, on the comedy "Community" (NBC, 2009-15; Yahoo!, 2015) and "CSI: Miami" (CBS, 2002-12). During this era, Hall also worked in recurring roles on teen comedy "Awkward" (MTV 2011-16) and Steven Bochco's "Murder in the First" (TNT 2014-16). His big screen appearances included key roles in Bennett Miller's acclaimed drama "Foxcatcher" (2014), Andrew Bujalski's indie romantic comedy "Results" (2015), Ben Affleck's Prohibition-set action drama "Live By Night" (2017) and satirical Iraq War comedy "War Machine" (2017).
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Made his stage debut as the young Steve Allen in Allen's semi-autobiographical play "The Wake"
Made his TV debut in the ABC movie "The Gold Bug" as a young Edgar Allan Poe
Made his feature film-acting debut in "Six Pack"
Played Huck Finn in the CBS TV-movie "Rascals and Robbers: The Secret Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn"
Cast as Rusty Griswold, Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo's son, in "National Lampoon's Vacation"; first association with writer John Hughes
Landed breakout role as Farmer Ted, the geek who pursued Molly Ringwald's character, in John Hughes' directing debut "Sixteen Candles"
Joined NBC's "Saturday Night Live" for one season; at the age of 17, Hall was the youngest cast member in the show's history
Cast as Brian Johnson, "the brain," in writer/director John Hughes' "The Breakfast Club"
Starred as Gary Wallace, another likable geek, in John Hughes' "Weird Science"
Starred in first action/thriller "Out of Bounds"
Starred as a high school football player in "Johnny Be Good" opposite Uma Thurman and Robert Downey Jr.
Played a villain, opposite Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder, in Tim Burton's "Edward Scissorhands"
Was critically lauded for his supporting role as an MIT student (and Will Smith's gay lover) in "Six Degrees of Separation"
Directed first film, the low-budget Showtime comedy, "Hail Caesar"; also co-starred with Robert Downey Jr. and Judd Nelson; wrote and performed the featured songs
Formed the band Hall of Mirrors
Portrayed Bill Gates, opposite Noah Wyle as Steve Jobs, in the TNT movie, "Pirates of Silicon Valley"
Made a cameo appearance as himself in the comedy "Happy Accidents"
Appeared in the critically-panned "Freddy Got Fingered" opposite Tom Green
Portrayed baseball pitcher Whitey Ford in Billy Crystal's highly acclaimed HBO film "61*"
Starred as Johnny Smith in USA Network's "The Dead Zone"; also produced and directed episodes
Had a small role as a news reporter who is kidnapped by the Joker in Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight"
Guest-starred on the NBC comedy series "Community"
Co-starred with Catherine Bell and Mekhi Phifer in Lifetime television movie "Last Man Standing"
Played Walter Sykes on "Warehouse 13"
Appeared as Mr. Hart on TV series "Awkward."
Had small guest role as Harris Trout on "Psych"
Played Paul Barnes on "Murder in the First"
Landed role of Gary L. Smith in "Live by Night"