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Anthony Michael Hall: John Hughes inspired latest work

Anthony Michael Hall stars in and executive produces "The Class." Photo courtesy of Riker Brothers
1 of 5 | Anthony Michael Hall stars in and executive produces "The Class." Photo courtesy of Riker Brothers

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- Anthony Michael Hall said his latest work, The Class, in theaters Friday, is inspired by his childhood work with John Hughes.

Hughes wrote and directed Hall in Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Weird Science, and wrote National Lampoon's Vacation for director Harold Ramis and producer Matty Simmons.

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"I owe such a debt of gratitude to those guys because I was just a goofy kid from New York," Hall told UPI in a recent phone interview. "It certainly inspired this new period of creativity that I'm thankful for -- becoming a producer and expanding in terms of where I'm at in the business."

Hall, 54, is an executive producer of The Class and stars as Faulk, an administrator who supervises a Saturday class for six kids. Hall considered the film an homage to the detention classic, The Breakfast Club.

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"It's an original film," Hall said. "It's certainly inspired by The Breakfast Club, but here you've got six kids instead of five and I think they're dealing with some real-world issues."

Nicholas Celozzi wrote and directed The Class, which also stars Hannah Kepple, Lyric Ross, Charlie Gillespie, Michael Sebastian, Colin McCalla and Juliette Celozzi, Nicholas' daughter, as the students.

The young characters are coping with such issues as alcoholism, cancer and abusive caregivers, along with struggling grades. As a producer, Hall shared with Celozzi one of the ways Hughes made his teen films so effective by encouraging his actors to take risks and improvise.

"I said to him that John was great about really protecting us with respect to rehearsal time," Hall said. "He would always carve out at least a week. Breakfast Club maybe even had a little bit longer."

As the administrator, Hall said he felt like he was paying homage to Paul Gleason's principal character in The Breakfast Club.

"He had that kind of brutish, hard-headed mean principal [role]," Hall said. "There are shades of that, but I think the character makes a full turn."

Faulk questions teacher Miranda's (Debbie Gibson) group exercises to get the kids to open up. Hall said Faulk evolves a bit more than Gleason's character did in The Breakfast Club.

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"What Nicky suggests in the writing for Faulk is that he had musical aspirations when he was a kid," Hall said. "Faulk appears one way at the beginning, but I think he really softens in a way, too, because he really sees the value of their growth even in the course of that day."

The Class has more in common with The Breakfast Club. It also filmed in Chicago, and shares another co-star, John Kapelos.

Kapelos played the janitor in The Breakfast Club. He plays the uncle of Gillespie's character in The Class.

"It was Nicky's idea, actually, and then we both reached out to [Kapelos]," Hall said. "He's revealed to be this sick, abusive uncle who's doing his best, but also beset with this situation of raising Charlie's character."

Hall said his films with Hughes still represent the majority of items he is asked to sign when he attends autograph conventions. He said he believes the films' relatable themes and situations make them universal and evergreen, and ripe for updating with films like The Class.

"Certainly, with Breakfast Club, it's a film that keeps finding younger audiences," Hall said. "There's the great conflict between the characters. There's also great moments of humor and cathartic release for the characters, too."

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Weird Science in 1985 conflicted with the sequel, European Vacation. That prevented Hall from reprising his role as Rusty Griswold, and began the tradition in which different actors played the Griswold children in each Vacation film.

Hall's growing popularity also prevented him from continuing to work with Hughes. Hall began to star in his own films, like the action film Out of Bounds and college football comedy Johnny Be Good.

"It was kind of his fault because, obviously as my mentor, big brother in the industry, he had given me this career," Hall said. "I was just busy on other projects because of the work that he had given me in our early days."

Hughes actually wrote Ferris Bueller's Day Off for Hall to play Ferris. Hall has no regrets, though.

"I don't often talk about that because honestly, you have to wish everybody success in life," Hall said. "I thought Matthew [Broderick] was great in the film."

In Hall's adult career, he starred in the television adaptation of Stephen King's The Dead Zone as a man with psychic powers who tries to prevent tragedies. He also played a newsman in The Dark Knight and educators in the show Awkward and the movie Bodied.

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Last year's Halloween Kills pitted Hall against legendary killer Michael Meyers as the grown-up Tommy Doyle. His line in the film, "Evil dies tonight," became a meme last fall, which Hall enjoyed seeing.

"I loved every single one of them," Hall said, noting seasonal renditions included "Pumpkin Pies Tonight" for Thanksgiving and "Santa Flies Tonight" for Christmas.

Even Hall was surprised that the editors used so many takes of him saying, "Evil dies tonight" in the film.

"I could have done with a couple hundred less references to that line in the film," Hall joked. "But hey, I'm not an editor."

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