Celebrity Interviews: Albert Hall




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Albert Hall revisits Apocalypse Now
Laurence Washington

Television fans quickly recognize Albert Hall from his recurring role on television’s "Ally McBeal" and as Judge Seynore Walsh on "The Practice."

However, it’s Hall’s captivating and commanding portrayal of Chief, in "Apocalypse Now," that is forever etched in the memories of film buffs.

Graduate of Columbia University's school of drama, Hall's first leading role was in an off Broadway play before he had even finished his degree. Today, Hall's film resume reads like a who’s who of current popular films. His screen credits include Spike Lee’s "Malcolm X" and "Get On The Bus," and a host of other films like "Beloved," "Devil in a Blue Dress" and "Courage Under Fire" with Denzel Washington.

Audiences can now revisit Hall’s portrayal of the experienced navy patrol boat commander in "Apocalypse Now,"as director Francis Ford Coppola has added 53 minutes of additional footage to his Vietnam war classic. Coppola's new re-release is titled "Apocalypse Now Redux."

Hall gives a memorable performance in the film as he guides his patrol boat and crew through the surreal rivers of Vietnam and Cambodia, ferrying assassin Martin Sheen to his target, Marlon Brando.

"I thought it was a great idea," Hall says. "And I was kind of excited about it when I got a letter from Francis saying that they were going to re-release it. I did my looping on it about a year ago. I went in and it took maybe two hours work and I did maybe 15 or 20 lines."

The new scenes include an expanded Playboy playmates sequence, a French plantation sequence, and the funeral of Clean (Laurence Fishburne).

"I saw a screening of it about two months ago," Hall says, "and they added some really fine stuff with Robert Duvall and Marlon Brando. It makes it a little long, but the stuff they edited into the movie is extraordinary."

Hall says the original 15 months that it took to film the movie in the Philippines was truly an exotic experience. He says "Apocalypse Now" was about that crazy war, and, "You couldn’t do it without getting a little crazy yourself at some point along the way."

And while he realizes it was movie making, Hall also recalls exeptional moments when things became almost real for the actors. "It was especially exciting going into Kurtz’ (Brando) compound," he recalls.

"But it was all fun," he adds. "You get into the mix with all the crazy stuff up and down the river and things we did on the boat. It was crazy fun but then you remember you're doing a movie, and it isn’t really real."

Halls says over the years, he’s answered many deep and penetrating questions from the kids of Vietnam veterans who are still wondering about the war.

"I call them kids," Halls says. "But they’re 18-20 years old. They have a lot of curiosity and a lot they want to know."

Hall says there was very little in the history books about the Vietnam war when these kids were going to school, which is why they still have so many questions about it today.

"They (the schools) just took just a peak at Vietnam," Hall says, "glossed over it and kept moving. Yet their fathers were in the war and came home with wounds and mental and emotional conditions, and they wonder what that was like, because they have unresolved issues regarding their parents."

Much of the respect Hall gained as an actor for his role in "Apocalypse Now" is due to the research he put into the part. He made a very personal effort to try and understand what being in the war must have been like.

"You have to do some research," Hall says. "You have to know the facts and the conditions and what the situation is surrounding a movie, but on the other hand, acting is so intuitive I've also learned to approach a role by going into it with feelings and intuition and just a belief in myself."

Hall's combination of research and intuition have served him well in the movie business and he continues to give audiences memorable performances.

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