Anthony Michael Hall Reflects on Battle With Stanley Kubrick Over a Classic War Film

by Josh Lanier
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Anthony Michael Hall said he doesn’t have any regrets in his career, but there is something that still breaks his heart. The then-teenaged idol nearly starred in Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam War masterpiece Full Metal Jacket, but it fell through after he and the iconic director had a falling out.

Hall was 17 when he got word from his agent that Stanley Kubrick wanted to speak with him about starring in his next movie, Hall told Michael Rosenbaum on the Inside of You podcast. He loved the director’s earlier films and couldn’t believe it.

That feeling was mutual.

“He paid me the greatest compliment I’ve ever had,” Hall remembered. “He was like, ‘I just finished screening Sixteen Candles. I watched it three times.’ … You’re my favorite actor since I saw Jack (Nicholson) in Easy Rider.'”

Kubrick wanted Hall to play Joker, the lead in Full Metal Jacket. Hall was floored. But it was downhill from there. What followed was a protracted, nine-month negotiation process between Kubrick and Hall’s managers.

“I can say in hindsight that it was about money, but it wasn’t. It was just a crazy drawn-out thing,” Hall said. “(Kubrick) was incredibly private. I had to go to his attorney’s house in Beverly Hills and read a numbered script. I mean literally, dude, it was like this.”

Hall didn’t say if he quit the project or Kubrick fired him, but the role ended up going to Matthew Modine.

“It breaks my heart sometimes that it didn’t work out,” he said. “I needed to work with him.”

Anthony Michael Hall Turned Down Role Of Ferris Bueller

Full Metal Jacket wasn’t the only 1980s classic that Anthony Michael Hall nearly starred in. He was John Hughes’ original choice to play Ferris in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. But he turned it down because of a prior commitment, which caused a rift between him and the iconic director that persisted for years. He explained what happened with Michael Rosenbaum on the podcast.

Anthony Michael Hall met John Hughes in 1982 on the set of National Lampoon’s Vacation, which Hughes wrote. Hall was only 13 at the time, but Hughes saw potential. When Hughes became a director, he hired Hall for his first three films — Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Weird Science.

Hughes expected that Hall would star in his fourth movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but he was already booked on another project and couldn’t. Hall then turned down the role that went to Jon Cryer in Hughes’ Pretty In Pink because he thought the movie was a rehash of Sixteen Candles.

They never worked together again.

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

Their friendship also ebbed, and they lost touch. Hughes died in 2009.

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

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