Andy Hallett

Andy Hallett didn't begin singing until Patti LaBelle invited him on-stage at a concert. After moving to Los Angeles he worked as a runner for an agency and then as a property manager and personal assistant. When
Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon saw Hallett singing in a Universal City blues revue, Whedon conceived the character of The Host, an anagogic demon who reads people when they open up through singing karaoke. Hallett was invited to try out and got the part, his first job ever as an actor. Keri Allan spoke with Hallett as season four, part I of Angel was due for release on video...

Keri Allan: In your biography it says you fell into acting, so how did you get the role of Lorne?

Andy Hallett: Well I knew Joss Whedon, who's the creator of the show, for a couple of years beforehand so he got to know me as myself. I used to drag him into karaoke bars and I think he was stunned by that whole scene. He such a kick out of them and I think somehow, some way, he saw this vision of Lorne in there somewhere. So he asked me one day if I wanted to audition for this role. He said: "It's inspired by you, but you still might not get the part".

He said he wanted me to audition for this part of the karaoke demon, and what did I think? and I was like, "oh my god!" I never thought it would come to this, I thought it would be a couple of times, but I did 51 episodes as a guest cast member, before he asked me to be a regular - and that wasn't until season 4 episode 14. He called and said: "We want you to join the team. What do you think?" Luckily I can say that I already felt like a team player, like I already felt like I was part of the family. So, of course I accepted instantly.

The thing that I'll never forget was when he said: "None of us know what the future holds, and who knows what will happen with the show. I just wanted to have you have the opportunity to say that you were a series regular in case the show doesn't get picked up next year." I thought was really wonderful on his part and really considerate, to think of me and my resume and so forth, because having that on your resume holds a lot more weight that saying you were a guest star. So I just thought that was spectacular.

KA: As this was your first acting role, did the guys give you any handy hints?

AH: You know that's a really good question! You're right, that's exactly what happened because I went in there not knowing a thing and was totally... Oh my god! I almost said "totally green!" [Laughs]. That's so bad, I've never said that before. That's hysterical! I was totally fresh, new, so I was kind of nervous and scared. Alexis Denisof [Wesley] was awesome as he really made me feel comfortable he really made me feel at home.

Now I really feel comfortable with everybody, but he played a big part in that. And I learn stuff all the time. Like I have to say Mark Lutz [Groosalugg] has taught me so much. He's also one of my closest friends - we're actually neighbours.

I'll never forget, one day we were doing a scene where I had got back from looking all over town for something. I wanted to walk into the scene, down the stairs with a limp as if I was exhausted. But I didn't think that I could do that because it wasn't scripted that way. And Mark said: "Who cares if its scripted? Just do it. If that's how you wanna play it". I had spent so much time memorising lines, following the script, following the stage directions and so forth that I wasn't taking enough time to put my own self into it and Mark was like: "That's what its all about. Let loose." So I walked into the room and limped all the way through the scene and they loved it! The director was Tim Minear and he loved it and cracked up and thought it was perfect for the scene.

Now I can open up and put a lot of my own stuff in without worrying about them reeling you in. And if its too much or too little they'll tell you and the director will ask you to do it differently, but he made me feel comfortable with trying stuff.

I'm glad you asked that question 'cos I rarely get to say anything about that, and that's a good one.

KA: As Lorne was partly based on you, are you bringing more and more of yourself into the character as you play him?

AH: Yes, and largely in part of what I just mentioned. Like simply because I'm becoming more confident, but also becoming more comfortable with that cast - just like knowing a friend better, becoming better friends you just feel more comfortable around them. I think when you're more comfortable like that it shows.

KA: What's a normal day like for you on set? You're the first to arrive and the last to leave aren't you?

AH: I tend to be, yeah. It takes three hours for make-up. Dayne Johnson's also become a real dear friend of mine. He's head of the make-up department. He used to be on Buffy then he came over to head the staff on Angel and obviously he has a lot to do on the show. He does my make-up and we get along great. I can't imagine spending that much time in the make-up chair with someone that you can't stand.

Getting up at 4am, travelling to the studio and then sitting for three hours without being able to move or do anything, makes it hard to stay awake. It can be pretty boring. But Dayne went out and bought a DVD player, a TV and a VCR and its wonderful because now I can watch movies in the chair. I never used to watch movies, so he got me into watching movies.

KA: You all come across like being good friends and there's always tales of high jinks on set. What's the funniest joke you've been involved in?

AH: Oh God, that's a good one. There's so many. I think the most fun around there is all of our inside jokes. And usually its not even a big prank. It's just in the middle of a scene, J August Richards making a gesture that indicates something and I'll look but we're on camera and I cant break up laughing you know, which a lot of the time I do.

Id say that I am probably the worst at laughing on set, in terms of laughing and not being able to stop. Everyone else seems to be able to pull themselves together, I can't. But yeah, it's always a lot of fun.

KA: Do you meet up with the guys much outside of work?

AH: Um, probably the most is Alexis and J and we get along so well - Amy too. I love Amy - I just went to her wedding. She got married to a lovely, lovely guy who's wonderful he's called James, and James is awesome.

KA: How do you feel about the conventions?

AH: I've been to a handful but they're outrageous! I think that they're really great for the viewers because obviously the people that come to them are real staunch supporters - and they're really, really into the show. But, I think about stuff that I'm that interested in and if I was to go to a convention that had people at it that I watched and perhaps admired in a certain type of way, I think that would be really fun for me. So I see how it can be fun for them, to meet you up close and get to talk to you and tell you what's on their mind and what they like and what they don't like. Its just a really good venue for them to give their two cents and I think its really wonderful to hear what they think, because without them id be jobless!

I remember for example in LA, I met, and I'm certainly not putting myself on a level with Cher at all believe me, but I met Cher one time. I was never that interested in Cher, like she's super famous and everyone knows who she is, but I wasn't really that into her music or her. And then I met her in a hardware store and she could not have been nicer to me, she was so nice and so sweet, so now when I see Cher on TV I watch her. I wouldn't say that I'm an avid follower of hers, but I do watch her now if she's on the TV.

I think that's true of the fans that go to conventions. If you're nice to them and you give them your all - and I usually do, or I try to, I feel like you've strengthened your audience and it creates a stronger bond between you and the audience.

KA: What's the strangest question you've been asked by a fan?

AH: The strangest question... Well it was more of a comment. I was asked if I read fan fiction. Which I wasn't familiar with, and someone said: "Well I think you should check it out." And they described a scandalous story about Lorne involved with fan fiction and I won't give any more detail than that, but it was truly scandalous! [Laughs]

Then I went on and checked out some of those sites and they are wild! Just absolutely wild what they talk about on those sites!

KA: Do they give you presents or anything?

AH: Yes, they give me wonderful things and little gifts that they've made and you know what I've been finding - people have been giving me pictures that they've drawn, they'll drawn Lorne, my character, which I think is unbelievable that they've gone to all that trouble. Its really, really spectacular to think that people have a talent like that and they share it with you, especially if it's a drawing.

A lot of people will give gifts that are specifically involved with that area, like a lot of people in Blackpool were giving us rock candy, so they'll give you stuff that's indigenous of that area and so they're really heartfelt gifts of cards and sweet stuff.

KA: Have you had a chance to potter around London at all? You've been here before though, haven't you?

AH: Yeah I've been here - this is my third time to London. I love, love, love it here. This is the very first place in my life that I've ever been where after spending a day or two here I said I could live here - it's the very first place I've ever felt that way.

I love the energy of the city - like it's a combination of just this like ultra-sophisticated city with like a small town charm to it. I love walking through all the big roads and seeing the architecture first of all - it's amazing, we just don't have that. I mean there's some places like in Boston and certain parts of New York that have the old brownstone buildings, they have some nice architecture there, but for the most part in places that I've lived, Miami Florida is not at all this, I mean it has its own appeal too, but that's what I think I like about it. And the people have that same vibe to them too, there's these ultra sophisticated - well not all of them! [Laughs] - especially in London proper, sophisticated looking folk, everyone seems to get dressed up here.

KA: Thank you for your time.

Angel season four: part one is available from 20th Century Fox from the 14 July 2003. RRP £34.99 (video)

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