You might say that Anthony Michael Hall was the archetypal child star. After all, he was born to a showbiz mother, the jazz singer Mercedes Hall, and began his acting career at the tender age of seven.
That was in a number of nationwide commercials, and he achieved early fame and recognition as the “Honeycomb cereal kid,” among other early roles.
During the late ’70s, his preteen years, Anthony acted on stage with big stars like Woody Allen in prestigious venues like New York’s fabled Lincoln Center.
In 1980, he made the inevitable segue into screen work with an appearance as a young Edgar Allan Poe in the TV movie The Gold Bug.
In 1983, at the age of fifteen, Anthony Michael Hall landed a major role as the son of Chevy Chase’s character in the comedy smash National Lampoon’s Vacation. The movie was a breakout hit, making over 60 million dollars at the US box office.
It also brought Anthony to the attention of John Hughes, who had written the National Lampoon screenplay. Hughes was planning his first foray into directing, which would eventually become the teen drama Sixteen Candles.
Anthony’s starring role alongside Molly Ringwald turned them both into teen sensations, and his affectionately geeky character proved an inveterate scene-stealer.
John Hughes has since stated that the “geek” or “nerd” archetype which Anthony frequently played was in fact based on Hughes himself.
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Anthony Michael Hall – The Breakfast Club
The next Hughes movie, The Breakfast Club, gave Anthony Michael Hall another starring role, and it proved a significant hit. And the “teen trilogy” was completed in 1985 with Weird Science.
“I think The Breakfast Club, for example, could easily be updated and it could be something really cool that would be more hip to a younger audience now and maybe more diverse too.”
By this point, Anthony was firmly established as part of the “Brat Pack” of young actors which consisted of Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, and several others.
He became a part of the Saturday Night Live cast in 1985, but only lasted a single season.
By 1986, he was wary of being typecast and so turned down roles in further John Hughes hits Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Pretty in Pink.
Instead, he opted for action-thriller Out of Bounds, but this proved to be a misstep. The movie was both a critical and commercial bomb.
In 1987, Anthony missed out on the chance to star in Stanley Kubrick’s war epic Full Metal Jacket, eventually being replaced by Matthew Modine. He then drifted into obscurity for a few years on account of a highly-publicized drinking problem
Anthony Michael Hall resurfaced in 1990 to play the villain in the Tim Burton hit Edward Scissorhands starring Johnny Depp. He took on plenty more roles throughout the following decade, with the most notable being a critically acclaimed performance as Bill Gates in the Emmy-nominated TV movie Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Anthony continues to work steadily and successfully, starring in popular shows like The Dead Zone, which ran for six seasons between 2002 and 2007, and Warehouse 13.
But of course, his legacy will always be those early movie roles. In those John Hughes hits, Anthony Michael Hall proved himself to be the voice and icon of a generation.