Exclusive Interview: Hanna Hall
Hanna Hall has been working steadily since her acting debut in 1994 and like most young performers has traveled considerably in a short amount of time. She�s the type of actress whom you will recognize at �that girl who was in that movie with so-and-so� though her name may be elusive. That is likely to change now that Rob Zombie�s HALLOWEEN has proven itself to be lucrative at the box office.
I spoke to Hanna a week before the film�s release. The night I met her she had just arrived on a flight from LA and was zonked. I politely asked her if she would sit for an interview the following day and she graciously agreed. I was excited to discover that her manager is Nina Axelrod, who played Terry in MOTEL HELL!
Jonathan Stryker: You were born in Denver, CO. What was it like growing up there?
Hanna Hall: My family moved up to the mountains when I was two, and it was wonderful. Colorado is so beautiful and I love being able to go back there. The city is difficult to live in sometimes, but it�s nice to be able to go back and be in the great outdoors. I lived in Colorado until I was 18, then I went to Hawaii for school, then I lived in LA for a year, then I lived in Vancouver for a year (filmed BRIGHTS LIGHTS there), and now I�m back in LA.
JS: Which is your favorite city?
HH: Vancouver is a great city. I had a really great time there.
JS: Have you been to Toronto?
HH: Yeah, I shot three movies there, when I was younger�
JS: THE VIRGIN SUICIDES was shot there, wasn�t it?
JS: I love Toronto, I was there in 1999 and I have to get back there.
HH: Yeah, me too! Canada�s great. I love Canadians.
JS: Was FORREST GUMP your first film role?
HH: Yes, it was.
JS: How did you get that part?
HH: Actually, it was very random. Nina Axelrod, my manager, was tired of LA and moved out to Colorado to teach classes and she had a relationship with an agency that she would get represented by and she had an open casting call in the newspaper when I was seven years-old. My mother didn�t want to take me. It was a Sunday afternoon and she really didn�t want to go, so I went with some friends and Nina ended up liking me. They called me back a couple of times and sent my tapes from Colorado to LA and they ended up casting me.
JS: Do you collect movies on home video? What are some of your favorites?
HH: Oh, I love SUNSET BOULEVARD by Billy Wilder. I went to film school, so I knew a lot about film production and camerawork. I really love all his films, like THE APARTMENT, SOME LIKE IT HOT, I love film noirs. David Fincher�s FIGHT CLUB is one of the most profound movies I�ve seen.
JS: Have you seen the film that supposedly inspired it, PARTNER by Bernardo Bertolucci, which is a film version of Fyodor Dostoyevsky novel �The Double�?
HH: No, was that good?
HH: What I love about SUNSET BOULEVARD is that it speaks so much to the whole industry, the loss of dreams, and how people base their entire life around this popularity of fame and beauty and then eventually that fades. And what do you have? I think that says a lot, and that�s the thing that I don�t like about the industry.
JS: Describe your experience working with Sofia Coppola on THE VIRGIN SUICIDES.
HH: Sofia was wonderful. She really listened to me and the rest of the cast when it came to working on the characters. She was also really shy and I was very young, too. It was a wonderful experience. I read the script when I was 13, and I just knew that I had to be a part of that film. I had actually screen-tested for the part of Lux (the character eventually played by Kirsten Dunst), but I was far too young at the time. So, then they offered me the part of Cecelia which was really great. We got to add a couple of scenes, such as the sequence in the tree and the ghost scenes. Sophia did a phenomenal job, you know, her style is so specific. She has branched out a lot since then. I�ve learned a great deal since then.
JS: You play Judith Margaret Myers in Rob Zombie�s HALLOWEEN, the character originated by Playboy Playmate Sandy Johnson in John Carpenter�s original. Have you seen John Carpenter�s version?
HH: Yes, absolutely. I saw it a few times as soon as I got the role just to see what the film was like.
JS: The character of Judith Myers, in the original, has sex with her boyfriend, and then is viciously murdered by her young brother Michael, all in the span of less than 10 minutes of the film�s opening. Does your character have more screen time?
HH: Yes, she does. Rob really took the time to develop the family. My character�s murder does occur early on in the film, but you do see more of her. I have more of a character and you kind of get to know her before she�s brutally murdered. She�s a lot more trashy and sexual this time around.
JS: Were you given the entire script to read or did you just have your scenes?
HH: We fought really hard to get the entire script because there was some nudity that ended up�we changed it, actually, on the day that we were filming. You know, I wasn�t really sure of I wanted to be a part of it. I wasn�t really familiar with Rob�s work. After I saw his movies, I thought, OK, I see. I think he�s an amazing filmmaker. I really had no idea. Since I was putting so much of myself out there, I wanted to make sure that it was right for me.
JS: How was Rob�s direction?
HH: I really liked the fact that he was open to suggestions and he really likes to work with you, which is really nice. Sometimes you get some people who have just one vision and they don�t understand that as an actor you�re bringing the character to life, and you can actually add to their vision and make it better. So, he was really open to that. With him, there�s no bullshit, he�s laid back and easy to work with.
JS: It�s not surprising to hear you say that. Your co-stars have talked at length about his generosity.
HH: Yeah, he�s very much an actor�s director. Acting is such a huge part of your film, any film really. The acting can either make or break the success of it. There are so many people who work behind the scenes and who probably don�t get as much credit as they really should. But, the actors/actresses are the ones who have to carry the film. They are the ones that the audience will identify with. That�s why it�s really important to work with and have a rapport with them because filming a movie is so organic; if you shut down and don�t allow new ideas to come up you run the risk of making a film that�s uninteresting.
JS: What�s next for you now that HALLOWEEN is completed?
HH: I just shot a film in June called HAPPINESS RUNS and it also stars Rutger Hauer. So, I�ll be taking that to film festivals, hopefully, Sundance or Toronto, one of those. It�s a really beautiful film about really terrible things.
JS: Who would you like to work within the industry?
HH: David Lynch is someone I would love to work with. I love his films, they have really inspired me. So, David, if you�re reading this�(smiles).