The Host with the Most
by Kate O'Hare
On a recent Monday afternoon at the Santa Monica production offices of UPN's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and its spin-off, the WB's "Angel," series creator Joss Whedon was seen entering the office of writer/producer Tim Minear ("Angel") and singing songs from "Moulin Rouge!" During a subsequent phone call, more songs were exchanged.
Outside later on, as Minear smoked a cigarette, he was accosted by "Buffy" star Alyson Hannigan, who hurled herself upon him, saying, "My fellow 'Moulin Rouge!' fan."
So, you see, when Whedon asked "Angel" cast member Andy Hallett to accompany him to a screening of director Baz Luhrmann's Academy Award-nominated musical on Cape Cod (Hallett's home, and Whedon's vacation home) last summer, he could hardly say "no" -- but he wanted to.
"I never watch movies, ever, ever," Hallett says, "because I can't sit still for that long. My girlfriend gets so mad at me. I hate going to the movies. But Joss made me -- made me -- go see 'Moulin Rouge!' That was the last movie I saw. I enjoyed it, but it's only because it was a dark, rainy night on Cape Cod, nothing to do."
Although this is his second season as a recurring character on "Angel" (which returns to The WB's Monday-night lineup on April 15), Hallett has retained his anonymity. Actually, that isn't hard, since Hallett spends his working life underneath a latex mask that transforms him from a tall, dark and handsome guy into a red-eyed, green-skinned demon with a hooked nose and horns.
The makeup -- which takes three hours to put on and 30 to 45 minutes to take off -- so alters Hallett's appearance that he generally goes unrecognized -- except at conventions. "I don't know why," he says, "but they do. I guess it's because they're pretty big fans of the show -- or good guessers."
Hallett plays The Host (aka Krevlornswath of the Deathwok Clan, aka Lorne), a flamboyant, Rat Pack-esque demon from another dimension who used to run Caritas, a Los Angeles karaoke bar for supernatural creatures (until it was blown up, twice).
"I know," says Hallett of the second destruction. "Just when I got it back up and going."
Lorne's demon knowledge and ability to read people's (or demons') innermost feelings when they sing has proven useful to crusading vampire-with-a-soul Angel (David Boreanaz) and his evil-fighting cohorts (Alexis Denisof, Charisma Carpenter, J. August Richards and Amy Acker).
Fans may get to see Hallett on film without the makeup, upon the eventual release of "Chance," a black comedy written, directed and produced by "Buffy" cast member Amber Benson (Tara). The low-budget film also stars "Buffy" regulars James Marsters (Spike) and Emma Caulfield (Anya), and series writer David Fury.
"I haven't seen the finished product," Hallett says, "but I spoke to Amber, and she says it's done. I'm dying to see it, because I know she worked really hard on it. I'm sure it's going to be a really fine piece of work."
"Watching her was amazing. She did everything. I worked on that, and I worked on Mere Smith's project. She's one of the writers on 'Angel.' She wrote a movie called 'The Enforcers.' I play a real greaseball character in that."
"I'm a dirtbag who works at this sleazy motel. I'm stashing money in the walls. It was funny. I get to swear in it, use nasty words. My hair is all greased back. I've got a wife-beater T-shirt on. It's a stretch from The Host."
Hallett's first career, as a singer, inspired Whedon to create the Host character in the first place. Since the "Angel" gig came along, though, Hallett has concentrated on acting, but he hasn't abandoned music.
There may even be a way to combine his talents. "Joss and I have been talking about doing a Host CD," Hallett says. "We're working on it. I'm all for it, make it kind of Las Vegas, lounge songs. We're in talks about it right now. Hopefully it will materialize."
As for choosing between acting and singing, Hallett says, "I love to do both. I would take either one in a heartbeat. I'm trying to figure out which one people like better -- but that's not a good way for me to decide. I should do what I like best, and I like doing them both."
This season on "Angel," Cordelia (Carpenter) has found romantic entanglements with Angel and Groosalugg (Mark Lutz), a champion from Lorne's home dimension; and Fred (Acker) and Gunn (Richards) have canoodled, to Wesley's (Denisof) dismay. Thus far, though, Lorne remains romance-free (he did show some interest in Cordelia, but believed her out of his league).
"I have to say, I've been so thrilled just to have gotten what we've already done with the character," Hallett says. "The next best thing I could recommend would be some kind of romantic interest for him, which could be a hoot. It could be anything -- creature, demon, any kind of human."
"I don't know what would work best. Joss was saying it would be funny to have some sort of outrageous creature, but I said, 'I don't want it to be too outrageous.' I'd like it to be something sexy."
"I don't know. Wouldn't it be hilarious if it was this gorgeous bombshell of a girl? It would be his complete opposite."