Thirty-one years after “The Breakfast Club,” Anthony Michael Hall is back in high school -- but in a much different position and in a much grittier film.
With “Natural Selection,” Hall finds himself trying to maintain order amongst a school full of troubled teens as the resident safety officer, Mr. Stevenson. It’s a role he likens to the one Paul Gleason played in “The Breakfast Club” -- if a little more helpful for the kids involved.
How were you first approached for Natural Selection?
It came to me in the mail -- the script -- and I was really impressed with Chad as a writer and I thought it was really well-written and constructed and thought-out. We went to Pennsylvania Dutch Country, where Chad’s from -- we actually shot it at his high school.
Considering he’s such a young filmmaker, how did he compare to other directors you’ve worked with?
It was immediately not an issue, but just knowing he was 27 when we made the film, I was just really impressed. I just tried to support him as much as I could. When we were off camera I would try to just give him suggestions about shots and setups and different things that I’d learned. As I get older here, at 48, it was great to work with people that are like the next generation of filmmakers.
You get some meaty material to play with in this.
It’s interesting, it just came to me, but it’s almost the role that Paul Gleason played in “Breakfast Club,” right? He’s like the high school security guard but he’s a compassionate witness to this kid’s plight and story. There’s a couple of interesting scenes we had where we got some backstory.
I would say he’s a lot better of a role model than Gleason’s character.
Right, right, right, he’s a little more understanding and compassionate, but Gleason was great. He had all those crazy, funny lines in the film. Actually, he came up with a few while we were on the set of “The Breakfast Club” -- “you mess with the bull you get the horns.” That kind of stuff was right from Gleason.
Now, comparing “The Breakfast Club” to this film…
The first thought I had is everybody would be on their smartphones. It would be a totally different film, right? This generation, everybody wouldn’t have time for each other. I’m joking, but that’s the truth, just the way the world is now because of the internet and everything. If they’d been in detention and they’d had their phones, they probably wouldn’t have talked to each other. I sound like an old fart, but anyway the point is the younger generation is so much smarter and more progressive. But anyway, it is true about smartphones.
You’ve been in so many well-known projects both in film and TV. What do you feel like people most want to talk to you about when they meet you?
Always the John Hughes stuff comes up. I’m never, like, upset about it. I think it’s great. It was the beginning of my career and I loved the guy and the experience of it, so those films always come up. And then the TV shows like “Dead Zone” and other films like “The Dark Knight,” or TV shows that people see me on.
I also wanted to ask you if you still keep in touch with your girlfriend from Canada.
That’s a Hughes joke, right? That’s a running joke. What’s so funny is he always kept that going. He would always remember because I had forgotten, but he kept that going. There’s something about the rule of threes in comedy -- if you mention something three times, by the second or at least hopefully by the third time people are like, “Oh, I get it, that s**t is funny.”
“Natural Selection” is in theaters and available on VOD.