Anthony Michael Hall Opens Up About Working With John Hughes on ’80s Classics

by Josh Lanier

Anthony Michael Hall regrets turning down the lead role in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Not because the movie was a big hit. Hall was already one of the biggest movies stars in the world as a teenager. But he says it caused a rift in his friendship with writer/director John Hughes that never healed.

Anthony Michael Hall met John Hughes on the set of National Lampoon’s Vacation when Hall was only 13. Hughes wrote the movie and was about to start his career as a director. He knew Hall had something special, and he hired the teenager to star in two movies, People magazine reported in 1984.

“For him to upstage Chevy (Chase), I thought, was a remarkable accomplishment for a 13-year-old kid,” Hughes told the magazine.

They would go on to work together on Hughes’ first three movies, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Weird Science.

“(Hughes) was always cool with collaborating, trying stuff. He was always conspiring with the actors to make it funnier,” Anthony Michael Hall told Michael Rosenbaum on his podcast Inside of You. “… He was really open to the process and fluid and let things happen, which was cool. When directors are like that you’re going to do that much further for the director.”

They worked together again on The Breakfast Club in 1985. Hughes was preparing to direct Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and offered the lead role to Hall, who turned it down. Anthony Michael Hall had another commitment and couldn’t do it. Hughes also wanted the teenager for Pretty In Pink, but he turned it down, also. He thought it was too much like Sixteen Candles. Matthew Broderick and Jon Cryer replaced him in those parts.

“I think that kind of broke John Hughes’ heart,” Hall said. “It broke mine too. Because I really wanted to continue that relationship.”

Anthony Michael Hall On the Last Time He Spoke to John Hughes

The two never made another movie together. John Hughes’ died unexpectedly in 2009 after suffering a heart attack. Anthony Michael Hall and Hughes hadn’t spoken in years at that point, Hall said. But when they did speak, it was like old times.

“The last time I talked to him, he called me with John Candy on the phone,” Hall said. “We hung out like this. We hung out and shot the sh*t, and (Hughes) talked about the potential for a Breakfast Club sequel.”

Candy died in 1994. Hall didn’t go into detail about Hughes’ plans for the sequel, but he’s discussed them before.

“His idea was to pick up with them in their 20s or 30s,” Hall told the NME. “That [idea] was on his mind, but that was the last conversation I had with him.

“I wish I could have spent more time with him. To let him know how much I loved him and how much he meant to me.”

Hall told Rosenbaum that he missed working with Hughes but he missed their friendship more.

“He was the greatest man, I loved him,” Hall said. “We were always laughing. He’d take us to blues bars. We’d go to record stores. We’d go hang out at his house. What he did for me, he did for so many. … He was just putting us on the map and giving us opportunities.”