Tivoli rolls out the red carpet for Anthony Michael Hall and Friends
By Maureen Callahan
For those of us old enough to remember the John Hughes films of the eighties and nineties, and young enough- at the time- to appreciate them, Tivoli recently turned the clock back a few decades. An actor that personified some of Hollywood’s best teenage romantic comedies walked the red carpet for an Evening with Anthony Michael Hall. A Q&A with the actor, followed by a screening of The Breakfast Club, and ending with a late-night bowling party with Hall and his family, gave fans a chance to meet the comedian. Hughes’ movie soundtracks, and other decade favorites, played while guests waited in line from the front marquis to the stage to take pictures and chat with Hall as he signed movie posters. He politely greeted each person with interest and enthusiasm. At the request of a friend stricken by a degenerative, neurological condition, Hall and other cast members from his upcoming movie held the event as a fundraiser for Multiple System Atrophy (MSA). “If I can help, I like to,” Hall smiled as he started Q&A, “so let’s have a great time tonight. Ask me anything!”
Hall revealed that The Class, a “Breakfast Club-esque” movie he was filming and co producing at Elmhurst University, echoed Hughes’ cult classics themes- peer pressure, loneliness, parental discord, etc. The Breakfast Club profiled five strangers put into boxes as to where they’re perceived to fit in. Forced into isolation together one Saturday, the students realize how much they actually have in common. Said Hall during the Q&A, “The Class is not a sequel to The Breakfast Club, but it’s not a re-make either. There are some definite similarities, for sure. It’s a high-school setting.” Red carpet guests were surprised to also meet platinum singer Debbie Gibson. When asked how she came to star in this project, she replied “the arts in education are everything to me, so I come by this role easily.” Gibson also said that she felt a personal connection to the issues the characters face. “One of the students is in foster care. My dad was raised in the foster care system, so that resonates with me. It’s actually how I got into music. He found it to be grounding, after always moving around,” Gibson recounted. Contributing Editor Maureen Callahan chatted for a few minutes on the red carpet with Hall, about The Class, due out next spring, and some favorite memories.
Can you give us any hints about the plot?
The Class re-examines the issues young people have always dealt with, but in this moment. Their today is different than my today, which was yesterday, (Hall laughed). The movie offers a fresh take on the problems this generation faces. Like The Breakfast Club, strangers are thrown together, this time to make up a missed test. They get to know each other and the concerns they’re facing come out. Inevitably, the question of “are we all still friends on Monday?” might subtly resurface.
How did you decide to co-produce a project like The Class?
I think it’s getting time for the next generation of actors to take over. I like mentoring young people. Hannah (Kepple), Colin (McCalla), Lyric (Ross) and the other cast members; they’re a very talented group of rising stars.
What made you decide to film in the Chicago area?
I have great memories here. Chicago reminds me of John Hughes; it’s where it all started for me. When we were working on his movies, he would take me out around the city with his kids. He was really my best friend. We went to see Buddy Guy at Kingston Mines, we saw The Pretenders one weekend, went to record stores. I felt like his third son. So, this city kind of holds my heart. We were looking for an authentic school setting, so Elmhurst University is perfect.
Was there anyone you emulated on your way up?
The Second City guys. John Belushi, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis. They were my guys, a lot of my inspiration, so another great thing about Chicago.
How did you come to work on multiple Hughes projects?
I landed the role of Rusty in National Lampoon’s Vacation before I ever met John. After that, I flew to New York to audition for Sixteen Candles. From there, John kind of took Molly (Ringwald) and me under his wing and kept hiring us. I owe him so much. I would not be standing here right now without him.
Do you ever see any other Brat Pack actors?
Now and then. I’ve kind of see them from time to time over the years. I see Ally (Sheedy) around once in a while. I worked with Molly (Ringwald) on that show Riverdale. I saw Judd (Nelson) at Comic-Con last year. I haven’t seen Emilio (Estevez) too much; I think he has a vineyard up north now. Hollywood is kind of like high school. You run into people, and it’s always great to reconnect when you do.
Which of your movies do you like best?
It’s always the one I’m working on! So right now, it’s The Class.