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Anthony Michael Hall is going back to class.
The actor, who played high school brainiac Brian Johnson in “The Breakfast Club,” is now taking on the role of assistant principal in “The Class,” an homage to the 1985 classic. The independent drama focuses on a group of seniors who are forced to spend a Saturday at school completing an exam they either missed or failed to graduate. The 54-year-old also served as executive producer.
“It was a very happy accident,” Hall told Originol Digital. “I certainly wasn’t planning on doing a [movie] inspired by a John Hughes film. But I was impressed with the writing. There’s this great conflict and humor. And I think kids are dealing with the same issues that existed 30, 40 years ago. And the kids in this film gave such soulful performances. They even became good friends after filming.”
Hall noted that walking on set was like a blast from the past.
“John Hughes would carve out a week, sometimes 10 days, of rehearsal for us,” he reflected. “And we had that on ‘The Breakfast Club.’ And I love my fellow ‘Breakfast Club’ castmates. We were there for each other. And we’re all friends to this day. The memories just started flooding back when we began filming [‘The Class’]. And I did so many films in Chicago. It was like a second home. It felt so good to return and have this wonderful experience. It was like stepping back in time in a way. “
While discussing his latest role, Hall couldn’t help but remember Hughes, the Chicago-based filmmaker and Hollywood’s youth impresario of the ‘80s. He captured the teen market with films such as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Sixteen Candles” “Pretty in Pink” and “Weird Science” – just to name a few. Hughes passed away in 2009 at age 59 from a heart attack.
“The dynamic with John was wonderful because he was like a co-conspirator,” Hall explained. “By that, I mean he was our boss, but from the time that I met John Hughes, he just felt like a brother to me. There was no sense of ageism, like ‘You’re the boss, you’re the older guy.’ He just felt like a big brother to me. And in terms of being a co-conspirator, I meant he was so talented. He was such a gifted writer. And he loved life, he really did. He loved music. He would take us out to blues bars.”
“I became very close with him and his family,” Hall continued. “I would go and spend the weekends with him, his wife and two young sons who looked very much like Macaulay [Culkin] when he was in ‘Home Alone.’ He was just a great guy. He was so much fun. He was always looking to make a scene better, funnier.”
“And the truth was, it was already there. We already had great scripts. We already had great characters. His love of music would always see through his love of humor. He was always accessible to us on set. We could always have sidebar discussions with him or group discussions about a scene or character. He spoiled me at the beginning of my career.”
There was not a crash course to prepare Hall for fame. He became a member of the “Brat Pack,” a term coined by a New York Magazine writer to describe a group of young Hollywood stars who dominated the big screen during the ‘80s.
“We had a running joke in my household – too much, too soon,” Hall explained. “I didn’t anticipate being famous at age 15 just because I was a part of all these fun movies. To be very honest, it did freak me out when it first happened. The idea of being recognized, it’s awkward for adults. But it’s magnified at that age when you’re already dealing with all kinds of insecurities. It was very challenging. I would joke, but it’s true, that it took me probably 20 years to process being 15 because I had experienced so much in between. I’m certainly grateful for it and I thank God for having strong, great parents. They were a great backbone. But it was challenging. For the first couple of years, it certainly took some adjusting. I didn’t anticipate any of that.”
“I was blessed in life that I come from a good family,” he shared. “I was fortunate to work with some great people who looked after me. They gave me opportunities and nurtured me as a kid growing up. I started young. I was kind of a funny kid. I had some talent, but I also had influential figures in my life who opened me up to a career, an industry. I’m eternally grateful to them.”
Hall was a staple of teen movies during the ‘80s, but there were some growing pains along the way. He remains the youngest cast member ever of “Saturday Night Live.” He made his debut at age 17 in 1985. It was a season that he admitted “was not so great” in terms of ratings. The gig lasted until 1986. He also turned down “Pretty in Pink” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” which were both released that year.
“It was really a scheduling issue,” Hall clarified. “I was unable to do ‘European Vacation’ and ‘Ferris Bueller,’ which actually had been written for me by John. Because of the work that John gave me, it led to other opportunities and there were scheduling conflicts. So, it’s not like I turned it down. It was more like I was unavailable, unfortunately, at that time. And it was difficult. I remember feeling horrible about it.”
Hall said the last time he spoke to Hughes was in 1988.
“He called me with John Candy and we just talked on the phone, the three of us,” said Hall. “I’m only 19 at the time and it was a blast. And I was just so happy to hear from both of them. Believe it or not, one of the things that was brought up was the idea of a potential sequel to ‘The Breakfast Club.’”
Hall previously shared that he and Hughes lost touch over the years, but the memories have endured.
“He gave me my career,” he said. “I’ve had great experiences with other filmmakers – and I’ve worked with some great ones – but the dynamic with John was very unique. He gave all of us a new generation of actors. But he was just a friend.”
“The Class” premieres in select theaters and on digital Sept. 9. The Associated Press contributed to this report.