We had a lengthy and candid conversation with Halloween H20 actor Adam Hann-Byrd earlier this year, where we discussed everything from practical jokes on the set, working with Jamie Lee Curtis and her mom Janet Leigh, and the infamous “CGI” Michael Myers mask, all of which you can read about in Part 1 of our interview here and Part 2 of our interview here, but in this final installment we are moving outside of Haddonfield.
Adam made his feature film debut in Little Man Tate, playing director and co-star Jodie Foster’s son in the 1991 film, so we asked what he as an 8-year-old child actor learned from Foster (also a former child actor) that has stuck with him ever since.
“The main thing when I was a kid was that I really hadn’t done any acting before, and I remember she came over to my house, and the main thing she imparted to me was just be yourself,” Adam told us. “Acting is really about reacting to what people are telling you and thinking about how you would react in a specific situation. If this was happening to you, how would you behave?
“You have to think about how the character’s similar to you and then you have to think about how the character’s different from you, and does that affect how you behave. I thought that was really interesting and really helpful.
“It’s a good person to have as your acting coach for your first acting lesson. Jodie is definitely a mentor to me, and I go to her often.”
While landing his first lead acting role happened almost by accident (read Part 1), Adam says his earliest interests were always on the other side of the the camera.
“I never really thought of myself as an actor, but I’ve always been huge movie and TV buff,” he said.
“I would go every weekend to the movies with my dad. My dad is actually cinematographer, so I always had a little bit of exposure to the movie business and I always kind of knew that there was a process behind the things that were seen on screen. I think a lot of kids watch something and just sort of think it’s real or it’s magic, and for me that wasn’t the case. I was always interested in that, but if you had asked me when I was a kid what I wanted to do, I would’ve said ‘I want to be a cameraman’ or ‘I want to be a writer,’ or something behind the camera.
“When this opportunity came up – actually, that very day that the casting director came by from Little Man Tate, I had gotten a role in the school play and I was very excited. It was just sort of a coincidence really that that happened on the same day.
“Once I started working on Little Man Tate, I was having such a blast, I realized this is really something that I may want to do again.”
While Hollywood is littered with horror stories about doomed child performers who went down the wrong path, Adam remembers his earliest movie experience as being nothing but positive, which echoes what many of the other actors who worked on the Halloween franchise as young kids have told us, from Kyle Richards (John Carpenter’s Halloween) to Erik Preston (Halloween 4) and Jeffrey Landman (Halloween 5).
“To be at the center of it (a film) is a very different experience, and Jodie had experienced that as well,” Adam said. “She was a child actor and at the time that she was growing up, people weren’t as conscious and would exploit child actors, so she had a lot of horror stories from her experiences growing up.
“I think when I came into the picture for Little Man Tate, she was very conscious, like making sure that this was the best experience of my life.
“She wanted to make sure that I was well looked after, and that it didn’t go to my head, that I didn’t get spoiled. She’s just terrific, very generous and very smart.
“It was really one of the best experiences of my life.”
Though he went on to star in some of the biggest movies of the ’90s, including Jumanji (pictured above) as a young Robin Williams and of course Halloween H20 as Charlie Deveraux, Hann-Byrd has come full circle is enjoying working on the other side of the camera today as a writer.
“I’ve been moving a lot more behind the camera,” Adam explains. “It sort of came back around while I was in college and I realized how much I like telling stories of my own.
“I’ve been working on a lot of TV projects. I’m currently working on a project with the co-creator of the show Leverage, which I can’t say too much about, but it’s been very exciting.
“When you’re acting, you’re basically helping someone fulfill their vision. You’ve got your one little piece of the puzzle and you figure a way to kind of heighten that piece. You’re going to throw yourself into it a hundred percent and bring something interesting to it, but at the end of the day you’re coming at it from one angle, whereas I think when you do writing, you’re thinking about how to fit that whole puzzle together.
“With TV, it’s just a really exciting time right now. It’s little bit edgier and there are just better shows right now, like Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones, and it’s on such a big scale and they’re tackling subjects you just wouldn’t see on TV 10 years ago.”
Finally, as a screen victim of one of cinema’s all time great genre icons, we had to ask Adam what his personal favorite horror films are, and I think you will approve of his list.
“It’s hard to pick just one, but I’ll give you the run down,” he said, in true movie buff form. “I love Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive. Personally, I like it even more than the Evil Dead movies, because I think it just amps it up even further. It’s so funny, and there’s ridiculous over the top gore.
“I really like Suspiria. Dario Argento’s set pieces are just mind boggling, really well done.
“When I was in college, I wrote a paper on the satanic subgenre of horror. That was a fun one to write. I talked about Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, The Omen movies, and Angel Heart.
“I’ve got a warm spot in my heart for Angel Heart. How do you go wrong with Robert DeNiro as the devil and the character is named ‘Louis Cyphre’. Pretty brilliant.
“Recently, I really liked Insidious, maybe right up until the very end. I think it’s a really smart haunted house movie where you find out that it’s not the haunted house. I thought that was just really smart and creepy with some fun stuff going on in that one.
“I like Audition. It’s got a few of those horror moments and the rest of it is just bizarre. I don’t even know what genre you’d call it, but that makes it unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I love the simplicity of it too. Nothing happens for like an hour and then you see a bag move in the background and it’s the most terrifying thing you’ve ever seen. I appreciated that.
“I think those are my main ones. And of course there’s Halloween and Halloween H20.”
Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later is currently available in the killer Halloween: The Complete Collection 15-disc Deluxe Edition Blu-ray box set (read our review), which comes with a ton of all new bonus features, including a chat with our friend Adam Hann-Byrd.
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