Anthony Michael Hall Is Embracing His Villain Era in ‘Trigger Warning’ and ‘Reacher’ Season 3

In the Netflix movie “Trigger Warning,” Jessica Alba’s special forces character returns home to find that her father has died under mysterious circumstances. And that might have something to do with Senator Ezekiel Swann (Anthony Michael Hall), who runs things in the town.

Ahead of the movie’s premiere on Netflix, Hall — who prefers to be called Mike — spoke to TheWrap about the movie and playing the villain in the upcoming “Reacher” Season 3.

Indonesian director Mouly Surya directed “Trigger Warning” and Hall sang the praises of working on a set run predominantly by women.

TheWrap: Between this and your upcoming role on Reacher, you’re in your villain era. Is it really more fun to play the bad guy?

Anthony Michael Hall: It is fun, because it’s no holds barred. You can lay it all out there. I also think it’s important to find some humor in those dark places as well. When I was growing up, I loved it when Jack Nicholson and Christopher Walken would do bad guy turns.

You get to torture Jessica Alba. I don’t think there’s too many actors who have that on their resumé.

[Laughs] I did my homework. I watched Mouly Surya’s film “Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts” and it was really a beautiful film. She had a really great hand as a director. I was spoke with her and she invited me to be a part of it in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

When we got there, there were five women leading the charge. It was Esther [Hornstein] and Erica [Lee] at Thunder Road. They did the whole “John Wick” series, so they’re really excellent, top-notch. And so are the 87eleven [Action Design]. They’re really phenomenal.

It was really fun being a part of an action film where the action is such an integral part of it. That it was executed at that high level and, and just to see all these women in charge of the project, it was really cool, it was seamless.

Jessica is also an executive producer.

She was right there in the trenches. It was like having another member of the 87eleven on set. She was very detail-oriented about the execution of the action, making sure that it looked really great.

And her character is a real badass.

You’re not kidding. There’s that scene in the jail which, I think she ad libbed that line to Jake Weary, who plays one of my sons. She says, “If you put more of your weight on your back foot you won’t punch like such a b—h.” I thought it was pretty funny. But that also gives you a sense of how Jessica is.

Did you base your character on anybody in particular?

I didn’t, because I’m honestly very apolitical, very patriotic. So it’s easy to [play a] career politician. We shot that scene where I’m talking to her about the term Latinx and there was nothing funny about the scene. But at Netflix’s cast and crew screening, when that came up, everyone laughed. The first thing out of my [character’s] mouth is, “God knows, I’m not a racist,” which is so funny. When someone says something so asinine and stupid, they’re projecting. Like, this guy is an ass.

Anthony Michael Hall in Trigger Warning
Trigger Warning. Anthony Michael Hall as Ezekiel in Trigger Warning (CREDIT: Netflix)

You’re also playing a villain in Season 3 of Reacher. Tell me about the character.

This season is adapted from Lee Child’s books “Persuader.” My character Zachary Beck appears to be a wholesale rug kingpin, but he’s living like a mobster or The Great Gatsby. So something isn’t right.

It’s a very layered character. There’s also a very interesting father-son dynamic that plays out. The season opens with Reacher saving my son from getting roughed up by some locals and that leads to Zachary hiring Reacher.

There’s a lot at play here that Reacher is monitoring. So he’s working for me, but he’s still an agent playing both sides. Fans will love it, they have a great crew, and they’re always upping the ante on the action.

This is my second job with Amazon Prime [after “Bosch: Legacy”] and I’m loving working with them. They’re like Netflix, they give companies and creators a lot of great resources and then they let you go and make what you’re gonna make.

Did you read the novel?

I did. There were a lot of people that are drawn heavily from the book with the exception of Zachary’s wife, who is not included in the series. I think that was to streamline the storytelling, because it’s more about the father-son relationship and his friendship with Reacher. That’s about all I can say without getting without any MIB’s from Amazon showing. [Laughs]

“Trigger Warning” is streaming on Netflix.


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