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December 13, 2000
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SJP


No longer nerd prince
Anthony Michael Hall all grown up
By CLAIRE BICKLEY


Love gone right: Anthony Michael Hall is in Toronto enjoying the Christmas season with his Canadian girlfriend. Love gone wrong: Hall is here starring as a bad husband getting some painful payback in a TV movie.

"There's a black comedy aspect. It's about this bizarre marriage," the softspoken 32-year-old said over lunch last week about Hitched, in which Sheryl Lee co-stars as the wronged wife.

After she discovers he's been unfaithful, she holds him captive in their basement and reports him missing. The film, for the USA cable network, shoots until Dec. 22. Writer-director Wesley Strick (who also wrote Cape Fear and Return To Paradise) told Hall he was inspired by Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? and Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? and their notions of the turmoil that can go on behind a home's peaceful facade.

Praying for Downey

Hall directed only once himself. That was on the cable movie Hail Caesar! five years ago, in which he also starred as a pencil eraser factory worker with aspirations to rock stardom. Contributing a cameo was Samuel L. Jackson, with whom he reunited in Toronto this year for the feature film Caveman's Valentine. The Hail Caesar! alumni also include Hall's close friend, drug-troubled actor Robert Downey Jr.

"I'm praying for him, I really am. We're all waiting for this court date, Dec. 27. There are so many people pulling for him," said Hall, who visited Downey during his year in jail.

He also visited him on the set of Ally McBeal and believes that Downey is actually most vulnerable to temptation when he's working.

"You'd think it's the opposite, but in fact it's the great enabler to have a job, to have money and to have time."

Hall has been working since age eight when Steve Allen cast him in his play The Wake. The '80s movies The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles crowned him the nerd prince of Hollywood's Brat Pack and he's still the youngest person to ever be in Saturday Night Live's cast. The youngest -- he was 17 -- "and probably one of the least funny," he says now.

Those days and those Farmer Ted-type roles are just good memories now -- "I love the work and I would never disparage it," he said. He grew up to be a solid 6-foot-2.

One of his past projects, the U.S. cable film Pirates Of Silicon Valley, in which he plays Microsoft mogul Bill Gates (Farmer Ted all grown up?), makes its Canadian TV premiere this Sunday night on ONtv.

Among projects awaiting release are '61, Billy Crystal's HBO film about the friendship between Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. Hall plays left-handed Hall of Fame pitcher Whitey Ford.

"I got into that role," Hall said, despite being more of a basketball than a baseball follower. "Whitey was a guy from New York who had a real edge."

Hall is a guy from New York, but he has a real soft edge. He brought Rey, his four-year-old Bull Mastiff-Boxer mix, to Toronto with him and just treated his college student little sister to a fly-in weekend. Raised a Roman Catholic, he wears a medallion of a cross and still goes to mass.

Tom Green fan

His girlfriend is Sandra Guerard, a lovely blonde model and actress from Ottawa who is now based here. She just wrapped the Kathie Lee Gifford TV movie Spinning Out Of Control and was also in KISS Detroit Rock City.

The couple will hook up in our capital over the holidays with Tom Green and Drew Barrymore. Hall is a fan as well as friend to Green and is in his upcoming movie, Freddy Got Fingered.

"I think the guy's a genius. I think the guy's a social hypnotist. I think he's incredible. He's on to something big-time and it's not just standup comedy," he says. "If this doesn't make $100 million, something's wrong. I smell a sequel."

Despite his quiet demeanour, Hall has a taste for Tom Green-esque hijinks in him. Take the time he and Guerard trailed Monica Lewinsky after spotting her at an L.A. gas station.

"I do, like, the Kojak right turn at the next corner -- Errrrrr -- and double back," he remembered. "There we are, stalking Monica up Wilshire Blvd. It was pretty funny. It was a cultural event. You see Monica, it's like seeing Garbo in the '70s. Not a fair comparison, I know."


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