Premiering on Netflix on June 21st is the new action thriller ‘Trigger Warning’, which was directed by Mouly Surya (’Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts’). The movie stars Jessica Alba (‘Fantastic Four’), Anthony Michael Hall (‘The Breakfast Club’ and ‘The Dark Knight’) and Mark Webber (‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’).

Related Article: Titus Welliver and Mimi Rogers Talk 'Bosch: Legacy' Season 2 and Beyond

Anthony Michael Hall.

Anthony Michael Hall. Photo Credit: Mark Binks.

Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with iconic Hollywood actor Anthony Michael Hall about his work on ‘Trigger Warning’, his first reaction to the screenplay, playing the villain, his action sequences, and working with Jessica Alba and director Mouly Surya.

Hall also talked about his long and impressive career including his work with director John Hughes on ‘Sixteen Candles’ and ‘The Breakfast Club’, working with director Tim Burton and Johnny Depp on ‘Edward Scissorhands,’ and working with director Christopher Nolan, Christian Bale and Heath Ledger on ‘The Dark Knight,’ as well as if he will return for season 3 of ‘Bosch: Legacy’ and his confirmed role in season 3 of ‘Reacher’.

You can read the full interview below or click on the video player above to see what Anthony Michael Hall had to say about Netflix’s ‘Trigger Warning’.

Anthony Michael Hall.

Anthony Michael Hall. Photo Credit: Mark Binks.

Moviefone: To begin with, what was your first reaction to the screenplay for ‘Trigger Warning’ and why did you want to be a part of this project?

Anthony Michael Hall: Well, it came up about three and a half years ago. My managers are a great company, Untitled Management, and they set up a meeting for myself and Mouly Surya, the filmmaker. So, I watched her film that was nominated, it was called ’Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts’, also like ‘Trigger Warning’, a female driven revenge thriller, and she did a beautiful job with that. That's like her ‘Kill Bill’, and she's a very talented filmmaker. So, I met with Mouly. We had a nice Zoom session meeting because it was COVID times, and she was lovely. She was cool about it. She had grown up watching a lot of my films. That's why I feel old. Anyway, she was really kind enough to invite me to join the party and to make ‘Trigger Warning’ with them. It was interesting. I liked the script a lot. John Brancato, the guy who wrote it, is a friend of a mutual friend of mine that I knew in Brooklyn growing up, and I knew of his writing. He was talented. So, the guys did a good job with it. I think there's something very stark about the good versus evil reality. When I did ‘The Dark Knight’, or even in a film like this, there's shadings of a Western here too. But she's, as you know, a special ops military woman who comes into town and discovers her father's been murdered. I'm playing this career politician, Ezekiel Swann, who is a senator, and a dirty character. It was funny for me too, because suddenly I'm on set, and I’m in my late fifties and I have two grown men playing my sons. I was like, "Okay. I guess I'm my age now." They did a great job. Jake Weary plays Elvis and Mark Webber plays Jesse, very different actors. They're my Cain and Abel, my two sons. It was just an interesting project from all these vantage points. The fact that we were produced by Thunder Road who did the ‘John Wick’ series, so that guaranteed this level of action. We had the 87eleven, which is this famous stunt group that does all those films, so they just could not have been more prepared. By the time we got to the set in Santa Fe, the stunt crew had been there for about five or six weeks. So, they pre-visualized everything. They'd already shot the sequences, and so we had fight training and we had choreographed sequences and training to do, and it was just a lot of fun. I'd never done an action picture where there was that much of a focus on the action. It was great to be a part of. Then working with Jessica, she was game. She really did a good job. I think her acting is excellent. She did a nice job carrying the film. But also, with that background in action, it was very important for her that we execute on those levels. There's that line in the film, which she says to Jake Weary, who plays my son, Elvis. She said, "You should put a little more weight on your back foot. You wouldn't punch like such a b**ch." I mean, she was game on. I think she ad-libbed that in the moment, and they used it in the film. But I thought the script was solid. It was a good group of actors I got to work with. Experientially, just being in Santa Fe, and shooting a picture there was a lot of fun too. All those elements become ingredients in the making of something and it was great to be a part of. I had fun.

Anthony Michael Hall as Ezekiel, Mark Webber as Jesse and Jessica Alba as Parker in 'Trigger Warning.'

(L to R) Anthony Michael Hall as Ezekiel, Mark Webber as Jesse and Jessica Alba as Parker in 'Trigger Warning.' Photo: Ursula Coyote/Netflix ©2024.

MF: Can you talk about Senator Swann and Parker’s history together and working on that backstory with Jessica Alba?

AMH: That's a great point. I think acting is often in the eyes more than it is the words. You're right, there's that backstory element that she doesn't like me. You even wonder if Mark does, my son who's the sheriff. A lot of that is how you can read their faces in the scene where I show up and I tell her, "Welcome back," and she's side eyeing me going, "This guy, he's a real career politician." Even though I didn't base it on any one character, one of the things I tried to do, which was just give a little bit of a non-descript southern background to him, so I gave him a little bit of a southern snarl. Even though my sons weren't doing that. But when you get to a set, it's interesting. When I met with the costume department and our designer, she was great. She had a vision board and she had pulled all these pictures of Ted Turner from the ‘80s, guys that are very wealthy but just choose to live in the southwest and that country cowboy lifestyle, even if they're not necessarily real cowboys. So, I think that that breathed life into it. Being in Santa Fe, seeing the level of production and professionalism from the stunt team. All these ingredients really make for a nice mixture. So, it was just fun to execute. Then working with Netflix, I've had the pleasure to work with them, and Amazon, I've done two shows for Amazon, ‘Reacher’ and ‘Bosch: Legacy’, but I did a film called ‘War Machine’, that I started in with Brad Pitt for Netflix. I have to say, they're a great company to work for. I mean, they give you the resources, they're supportive and they're not meddlesome. They're not looking over your shoulders as you're making something. Even as an actor on the set, I saw that they had free reign to really deliver the movie that they were going to deliver. It was great working with Thunder Road and Mouly, and she couldn't have been sweeter. She's such a nice lady, but has great instincts as a director, gives great adjustments, and has a great eye visually. So, it was really a pleasure.

Anthony Michael Hall as Ezekiel in 'Trigger Warning'.

Anthony Michael Hall as Ezekiel in 'Trigger Warning'. Photo: Netflix ©2024.

MF: Is it fun playing a villain and what's your approach?

AMH: I've played bad guys a lot. I've done a bunch of villains over the years, but this is probably one of the more prominent films that I've done. I mean, I enjoy it. I think there's a no holds barred approach, and I think when you're playing a bad guy, you can pull out all the stops. I also think it's important to inject a little bit of humor in there. One funny thing happened. There's that scene where Jessica and I are talking, and I'm talking about Latinx and questioning her. The scene opens with me saying something asinine like, "Everybody in my town knows I'm not racist." When we shot the scene, I didn't find any humor in it, but when we were watching it with an audience a few weeks ago, my wife laughed her butt off. I started laughing, and the audience was laughing. It's funny. It's great when there's a surprise element of humor and you didn't really intend it, and that's what happened in that scene. It was fun to work on and I really enjoyed it. I also really appreciated working with this core group of women that were really leading the charge. I thought that was impressive. In recent years, I've worked on ‘The Goldbergs’ and several shows, even on ‘Bosch: Legacy’ for Amazon, and I've had the good fortune of working with a lot of female directors, and I think it's great. I think we need more of it. Because obviously the world should be about inclusivity and people getting opportunities, and I've been very proudly directed by a bunch of great women directors in recent years, and I enjoyed it. Mouly being probably the best among them.

Jessica Alba as Parker in 'Trigger Warning'.

(Right) Jessica Alba as Parker in 'Trigger Warning'. Photo: Ursula Coyote/Netflix ©2024.

MF: Jessica Alba is also an executive producer on the movie. What was it like working with her as both a producer and actress?

AMH: Jessica comes ready. She's very serious. She's very serious about her work and is very caring, but she's also a great mom. Her daughters were on set with her. She's very much a take charge woman. I've had the pleasure of meeting her and her husband before we made the film, and they're cool people, they really are. So, I'm happy for it.

Molly Ringwald in 'Sixteen Candles'.

Molly Ringwald in 'Sixteen Candles'. Photo: Universal Pictures.

MF: It’s the 40th anniversary of ‘Sixteen Candles’, what are your memories of making that film with director John Hughes. You ended up working with him a lot, but was that the first time?

AMH: What's interesting is he had written ‘National Lampoon's Vacation’ in 1982, and then it gets made I think in '82 or '83. It was released in '83. So, I didn't meet John on that. I met him at the auditions here in New York City for ‘Sixteen Candles’ at the Universal building on Park Avenue. It led to me doing the two other films with him right away. So, if you include ‘Vacation’, the first four films of my career, they were written and directed by John, or written by John in the case of ‘Vacation’, so I think that there was something in the stars with us. He was just such a great guy. I can't speak highly enough about him. He was so wonderful, so down to earth, and so helpful. When you worked on a John Hughes film, it was always a collaboration in process. You could discuss anything with him. We would typically shoot two or three or four takes as written, and then if you had ideas, he would be like, "Try that." He had such a God-given ability as a writer and a director. He loved music, the way he incorporated music into his films to uplift certain moments, and the things that he did. But also, his sense of collaboration, I think that was another one of his real gifts because he wasn't precious about it. He allowed things to happen, and he allowed you to play around and to ad-lib. If we were going to embellish something or change something, as long as it worked for the scene, he was all for it. He was really a great guy in so many ways.

Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall in 'The Breakfast Club'.

(L to R) Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall in 'The Breakfast Club'. Photo: Universal Pictures.

MF: Are you surprised by the legacy of ‘Sixteen Candles’, ‘The Breakfast Club’ and ‘Weird Science’ and that new audiences are discovering those movies and loving them?

AMH: Yeah, I am. I'm truly grateful for that. It's amazing how they continue to find younger and younger audiences and new generations. I'm so appreciative of that fact. It's interesting, I had many years to think about this. I think there is a paradigm to his work. In other words, all the characters start out at a certain place, but there's an arc and they all wind up in a better place than they started, through finding love and humor. But also, mainly by showing their vulnerabilities, by showing the rough parts of childhood, by being honest about it, warts and all, pimples and all. I think that there is a method to his madness in a way. He allowed characters to be vulnerable, to be real, to let their guard down, all these very interesting things that we can all now see and reflect on. But when I look back all those years ago, to think that he was a relatively young guy. He was in his mid-thirties, so the fact that he had that kind of awareness and intelligence as a writer, and overview to be able to see his projects, was very impressive. I'm just grateful that they continue to find younger audiences. I think ‘The Breakfast Club’ particularly, because I think there's a strong message of anti-bullying and just the overall idea that we're all more alike than we're different. To celebrate that and to celebrate the differences is I think something that the world has grown more accustomed to. For example, this new generation of kids, people that are millennials, they're a lot more open-minded and a lot more inclusive let's say, than the prior generation. I think that shows a healthy sort of evolution in our general character I think, as people, and I think that that's very healthy and helpful.

Johnny Depp in 'Edward Scissorhands'.

Johnny Depp in 'Edward Scissorhands'. Photo: 20th Century Fox.

MF: What was your experience like working with director Tim Burton on ‘Edward Scissorhands’? Did you recognize his genius right away and what did you think of his vision for that project?

AMH: I did. Again, he's another one where I've had a lot of time to think about it. You look at his work, I mean, his movies are artful, they're masterpieces, they're beautiful, and there's an evolution there too. It's interesting, when I look back on ‘Scissorhands’, I have a couple thoughts about it. I mean, it is like ‘Pinocchio’, and it's a little bit of ‘Romeo and Juliet’. But when you look at his life, Tim Burton grew up in Burbank. He was a student of animation. His favorite actor was Vincent Price. The fact that he is in many ways, I think very Walt Disney like himself, and that he created this world unto himself as a filmmaker. I just think he's brilliant. I loved Tim, and I still love Tim and I love all his movies, and that was the first of a great collaboration between he and Johnny. They went on to make another, seven or eight movies together. So, I felt very privileged to be a part of that, and it was exciting to work on. I think at that point, I had just come off the John Hughes films, and ‘Saturday Night Live’, and everything else I was doing as a kid. I had sprouted up; I had just grown into a bigger guy. I think he found that interesting and compelling. Like it could be interesting to pit me against Johnny, who was a different thing. But Johnny, God bless him, he had a lot of work to do. Just even before the cameras rolled, he would get to work at 3:30/4:00 AM, I remember reading the call sheets. Because it would take like three hours to do his face, and they had a team of people just getting him into that suit, and then putting the hands on, the scissors. It was quite a production. But again, a great project. Just happy to be a part of a Tim Burton film.

Heath Ledger and Christian Bale in 'The Dark Knight'.

(L to R) Heath Ledger and Christian Bale in 'The Dark Knight'. Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures.

MF: Can you also talk about working with Christopher Nolan on ‘The Dark Knight’? What did you learn from watching the specific way that he makes movies?

AMH: Well, you just said it. That was the key word. I was very watchful. I remember feeling, it's almost like you remember that old movie, ‘Amadeus’ about Mozart? I felt like Salieri watching Mozart. I'm looking at this guy, and I had just finished ‘The Dead Zone’, and I kept looking at Chris Nolan and he just feels like such an old soul. There's something very aristocratic about him. Obviously, he’s a highly intellectual person, a very smart man, but very eccentric in some ways too. He would come to work in the same thing every day. He wore a vest, a dress shirt, a three-quarter length jacket, like a conductor almost. He certainly was a conductor to work with. But I just remember having this feeling when I worked with him like, wow. This guy, he's fascinating. I've got to tell you, scene by scene, the way he attacked it was amazing. I mean, some scenes we would shoot, it would be a three or four camera set up, and some there would be seven, eight, even ten cameras going. His technical prowess and his technical abilities are impressive, but also just his filmmaking. I remember seeing ‘Memento’, that was a great film. It really was an incredible movie. I've always been impressed with Chris, and it was an honor to work with him. I had a great time. I had auditioned for another role when I did ‘The Dark Knight’, and then he brought me back in for the role that I wound up doing. But it was interesting. At that time, all those years ago, 2007, after I did the audition, it was a period of months before I even found out about it. They circulate the tapes among the studio executives and all that. But just a great project to be a part of. We shot in London, and then I shot in Chicago for three weeks. I mean, I worked on the film for about a month, even though it was a small role. It was a great lesson too, in terms of that adage of “There are no small parts, only small actors.” I had a small role in the film, but I had the pleasure to work with Chris and to work alongside Gary Oldman. I can say I was in a movie with Michael Caine, even though I didn't get to meet Michael Caine. I'm on the background on the TV in some of those shots, with he and Christian. But in terms of Christian and Heath, if I can just speak to those guys for a second, I mean, they're both brilliant. I remember asking Chris Nolan about it. He said Christian was the first guy he met with at Warner Bros., and he just had an instinct. He just felt like he was the right guy. Then after we had made the film years later, I remember reading about his interactions with Heath. Heath was incredible. I know two of the things that were inspirational for them was ‘A Clockwork Orange’, because that's a great film. Then also something about the Sex Pistols. He wanted to bring some sense of anarchy to the film, which obviously was reminiscent of the Sex Pistols in the ‘70s. I think there's some Johnny Rotten in the Joker as well, a little Sid Vicious. So, that sense of anarchy coming in and attacking Gotham was very powerful. As we know, I think he just brought a lot of gravity to a comic book film. What he did reinvent the genre. It's amazing.

Anthony Michael Hall joins 'Bosch: Legacy' as Special Agent Barron.

(Right) Anthony Michael Hall joins 'Bosch: Legacy' as Special Agent Barron. Photo Credit: Tyler Golden.

MF: You appeared in a recurring role in season 2 of ‘Bosch: Legacy’. Will you be retuning for season 3?

AMH: Well, apparently, I don't think I'm going to be returning on ‘Bosch: Legacy’. It was interesting. It ended the season in a cliffhanger, so I thought there might be an opportunity, but it didn't play out like that. But again, it was a pleasure to work with those guys. I love Michael Connelly. I mean, they gave me a great opportunity there. I was playing a lead FBI investigator going after him, as you recall.

Alan Ritchson as Jack Reacher in Prime Video's 'Reacher' season 2.

Alan Ritchson as Jack Reacher in Prime Video's 'Reacher' season 2.

MF: Finally, I understand that you will be appearing on season 3 of Prime Video’s ‘Reacher’. What can you tell us about your character and working with Alan Ritchson?

AMH: Season 3 of ‘Reacher’ was incredible. We started last summer, and we had a four-month break due to the strike, and it was supposed to wrap in November. We wound up starting in November and shooting until June. I just wrapped a couple of weeks ago. They're going to be finishing next month. But I can tell you this, they've really upped the ante on the action. They continue to push the boundaries with that. I think that's very important to the audience, that the action is there. I like Alan Ritchson a lot. I think he's a good guy. I like working with him. I think he's doing a nice job with his performance. He's very vested too in the process, which was nice to see. It reminded me when I had ‘The Dead Zone’, because as the lead actor you must be the quarterback of the team. You must not just know your own stuff, but you must be able to be supportive, be a team player, and really help galvanize your team and get everything done. I saw myself in him because I see where he's at right now in his career and he's doing great. But he's a nice guy. He's a standup guy. He's got a good heart, and it was a great show to be a part of. I'm excited that people will see it. It'll air in 2025, due to the strike.

Trigger Warning

"Vengeance becomes her."
R1 hr 46 minJun 21st, 2024
Showtimes & Tickets

What is the plot of ‘Trigger Warning’?

A skilled Special Forces commando (Jessica Alba) takes ownership of her father's bar after he suddenly dies, and soon finds herself at odds with a violent gang running rampant in her hometown.

Who is in the cast of ‘Trigger Warning’?

Anthony Michael Hall.

Anthony Michael Hall. Photo Credit: Mark Binks.

Anthony Michael Hall Movies and TV Shows:

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