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Lorne Again
By Abbie Bernstein

As if the cancellation of Angel hasn't been upsetting enough, Host actor Andy Hallett faced even more tribulations last year.  Andy explains what happened, as well as talking us through Lorne's final days...

Andy Hallett doesn't just play one on TV - he really is a perfect Host.  Case in point: Andy has arranged to have the makings of coffee in his home with a caffeine-craving guest is scheduled to visit.  However, the grocery delivery service has brought drip coffee rather than instant and Andy doesn't have a coffee maker - so he empties out an unused tea bag, puts in a spoonful of coffee, ties the bag shut, adds hot water and, voila, a cup of coffee!  Lorne couldn't have done it better.

At the start of Angel's fifth season, Lorne technically hadn't been a host for a while.  Andy says at the beginning of Angel's fifth season, "I wasn't sure what Lorne was going to be doing.  I was looking forward to that new big set, especially just peeking in there before we started, I was blown away, because it was huge.  In the very beginning, when I first saw Caritas, I remember thinking that was huge.  But going into Season Five, I never expected it to be so sad at the end for Lorne.  Or for anybody really."

The season opened much lighter, with "Life of the Party" an early comedic highlight.  "It was a lot of work, but I had a good time.  I love Bill Norton, who directed that episode.  He let me do a lot of fun stuff that they don't normally get away with terms of my own nuances.  My favourite scene was when Angel and I had to go to Sebassis to try to convince him to come to the party, and you could see how important it was to Lorne.  I like the way Bill cut it together, you go in tight and just show eyes moving left and right.  I think he did some clever stuff.

Lorne got a different look in "Soul Purpose," when Angel dreams of him as a honky-tonk piano player, complete with moustache glued over his latex appliance.  "It was terrible!" Andy laughs.  "The moustache hit my lip." However, he appreciates David Boreanaz' direction: "I think David did a really good job."

Working with the Angel puppet in "Smile Time" was enjoyable but complicated: "There was a lot of laughing," Andy recalls, "but it was amazing to see how much work that is.  Those puppeteers, I give them all the credit in the world, because they really just work their butts off." In the shot where Lorne finds and carries the wounded Angel, puppeteer Drew Mossey is actually right next to Andy, operating the puppet: "Drew was walking beside me and they CGI'd him out."

The following episode, "A Hole in the World", marked Fred's death, the rise of Illyria and a turning point for both the series and Lorne.  "I was surprised to see that Lorne got dark," Andy relates, "just knowing how his character was in general throughout the entire course of the show.  But I also know his level of sensitivity.  Pulling that into the equation, I think it would be inevitable for him to be downbeat, just looking at what's going on in the grand scheme of things for the whole gang, and for - well, the whole world."

As far as throwing a punch at actress Sarah Thompson (Eve), Andy observes, "I didn't even have to get that close to Sarah.  It was shot straight dead-on in front of her, so my fist just had to go through the frame.  My job was really easy, but hers was to get her to make it look as though [the fist] came in contact at the exact same time, which is a bit of a challenge because it happens so fast.  The toughest thing was to try to get her not to flinch, because she sees my fist coming pretty close to her face.  So we just had to get that down between us.  But she was great."

Lorne shows a new, threatening side in the scene.  "That 'I'm dead serious, and I'm going to try to a little bit cutesy and funny about it, but I'm going to kick the **** out of you,' I have a lot of those characteristics.  I don't want to say, 'I'm actually very menacing,'" Andy laughs.  "But when I see that scene, I see me a lot in that.  I've never threatened anyone like that, but I liked going there.  And it was fun to see people's reactions.  Everybody on set was sort of surprise by that - I think maybe they thought I was going to be lighter with it."

Even Andy was unprepared for how very dark Lorne got in the finale, going so far as to shoot Christian Kane's Lindsey: "I was shocked.  When Christian told me one day, 'Hey, can you believe that you're the one that takes me out?' I was like, 'What?!' I thought he was kidding!"

Lindsey's death, Andy says, "was a big secret and it became even a bigger secret when we had to shoot it early [during the filming of 'Time Bomb'], because Christian wasn't going to be available [during the main filming of 'Not Fade Away'].

"Doing [the scene] was definitely my most intense thing I've ever done on camera.  I was tense, I was nervous.  It was a real gun and I didn't like pointing it at Christian at all.  My dad has a few guns, he was a deputy sheriff for years, but the biggest rule of thumb is, you never, ever point a gun at anybody.  Unless it's in self-defence - or during contract negotiations!" Andy jokes, then becomes serious again.   "They have a gentleman who was on set, who's the authority on how the gun is handled and what exactly is in it.  He checks what it's loaded with - obviously, to make sure that they're blanks - and then he's got to orchestrate firing it off with the squibs [spurts of fake blood].  The specialist will ask, 'Does anyone want to hold the gun?  Does anyone want to see it, to check it?' And nobody asked to.  I was like, 'Doesn't somebody want to?  I don't want to be the only idiot touching this thing.' And so I kept asking him to do all the standby by-the-book things over and over for me.  I don't know who else would have been nervous, beside me - Christian, I suppose!" Andy laughs.

"When I was standing there, I swear to God, my hand was really shaking.  When you fire it, it gives a kick back, like a real gun does, and [Christian] has somebody popping the squibs on him and he's acting like I'd just shot him.  The squibs went and [the fake blood] came back at me and was in my eyes and I couldn't see anything but I knew that we had to get this done.  I didn't want to ruin a take, so I just tried to stay with it.  And then I saw him on the ground and I didn't know if I shot him or not.  There was really that question in my mind, which sounds nuts, but I was so nervous."

In terms of why Lorne agrees to kill Lindsey, Andy says, "I was surprised to see Lorne accept that task, especially when at the same time, he was making the decision to walk away, because that was a tough decision for him to make.  I know that he felt bad that he wasn't standing up to fight the fight with them.  But at the same time, Lorne was not a fighter, and he was saying, 'This is nonsense, for us all to be at this point [of having to fight].' He was just frustrated with the entire situation.  And the loss of Fred was a lot for him to handle."

If Fred were still alive, might Lorne have stayed to fight?  "Good question," Andy muses.  "Very well may be, because I think it was the loss of Fred that created that downward spiral."  After killing Lindsey, "I don't think that [Lorne] feels safe at all, but I think that he feels, 'Look, if I am in danger, I don't want to endanger anybody around me, so if someone's going to knock me off, I'll just have to be off by myself, thanks.' In the same breath, 'I don't really want to be attached to this group that sort of has some bad vibes with [the Senior Partners] lingering, and so if I can remove myself from this situation, why not?' I know he doesn't feel safe - nobody felt safe.  But I don't know where I thought Lorne was going."

By then, of course, everyone knew Angel was going away.  The bad news had come during the filming of "Underneath": "J. August Richards called me [from the set]," Andy relates.  "I was sitting [at home] at my desk when he told me.  He said it was sad down there and the crew and the cast were upset.  I don't know how many people worked on that crew - 250 people or so - and a lot of those people have families [to support].  [Series cancellation is] the nature of the business.  But some of them were there for the entire course of the show.  So if you've gotten comfortable in a certain place for five years, it's just upsetting to move on."

The end of Angel coincided with another disturbing situation for Andy.  Around the time of filming "A Hole in the World," he says, "I remember a filling coming out of a cavity in my mouth.  It didn't hurt and I didn't get it fixed immediately, and eventually, it got infected.  But it wasn't inflamed, so I never knew that I had a problem - until the day I was in the hospital."

About a month after Angel wrapped, Angel make-up artist Dayne Johnson dropped by to visit, realised his friend wasn't well and wound up taking Andy to the doctor, who sent Andy to the emergency room.  The tooth infection, Andy explains, "[had] a direct line to the heart, which was causing the heart to not pump as efficiently, so my heart was getting more and more enlarged.  When I finally went in, I was in the middle of congestive heart failure and it was leaking blood from all the valves.  The whole thing would be described as advanced cardiomyopathy.  But I'm better now - I'm so thankful."

Andy is very appreciative of all the warm wishes from fans that he's received via getwell@andyhallett.com (the site is still taking messages).  Not that he's better, he's eager to get back to work.  First up is completing his vocal chores as a singing cricket on the animated feature Gepetto's Secret.  It given a choice, Andy says "I would love to do a sitcom.  I want to have that experience of working for television in front of a live audience.  I think that that would be a huge thrill."

Andy is excited about the release of the Angel soundtrack, though he says he didn't do any new recordings for it: "One little giveaway I think is that when I recorded ['Lady Marmalade' for 'The House Always Wins'], I knew we were going to have the Lornettes on stage and I go, 'Sing it, girls!' They even use that part of it."

There are also Lorne action figures.  Andy says his favourite so far is the Las Vegas Lorne: "It has its own little mini-stage with little different coloured stage lights at the bottom and it comes with a microphone and I think a martini, so how can I not love that one?"

The last scene Andy filmed found Lorne alone in a bar, singing "If I Ruled the World."  "I have to say, that was a good place for my character and for me.  I was a regular at the Studio Café and Lounge in Hollywood.  They shut down two years ago, but that's where I really, really came out of my shell and started singing, and that's the place that Joss [Whedon] came in and had a ball and ended up bringing a bunch of Buffy writing staff.  So I hold Studio Café in my mind as kind of how it all started for me.  And this bar that we filmed was across the street from that.  I find this uncanny.  It kind of came around full circle.  And I liked having my last day be on location in a lounge situation, because that's how I started and that's how I finished.  And it turns out, there were some fans standing by and when I was walking back to the trailer, the called me over, and I spoke with them.  I just thought it was a really nice way to go out, because it showed that people were still digging it."

Getting to set at 3am to have latex glued to his face is something Andy admits he wont miss: "There was definitely a sigh of relief for that and only that I miss my relationships with most of the crewmembers and the castmembers.  It was good energy that I thought that I had with most of the people there.  And I miss that."

Many of those friendships are ongoing: "My interaction with J. and Amy, Alexis and those guys, any time I speak with them, I don't feel like we've skipped a beat.  When we leave messages for each other, it's still, 'We-es?  It's Lorne!'"  Does Andy miss playing Lorne?  "No, because I don't feel like I've stopped, really," Andy laughs.  "There was a lot of me in that character, and I'm still being me."

CORDY COMFORT
When Charisma Carpenter returned as Cordelia Chase in "You're Welcome," Andy says, "I loved it.  I missed her terribly and when she came back, I was thrilled.  She and I always got along really well, I thought it was good for the story and it just made me feel good.  She always made me feel comfortable since Day One, so when she was there, it was almost like having a comfort blanket back."

FRED, ILLYRIA AND AMY
When Fred died, Andy says he knows how Lorne felt: "I don't know if I missed Amy being Fred, but I honestly, truly missed Fred.  But I also loved watching Amy Acker transform into Illyria.  She had to go to a whole other place.  When you look back at her in the cave in Pylea, just a complete wacko, to getting to know [the gang] a little bit and building little bits of trust very slowly and then finally she was part of the team, then to see her then go from Fred, that we all loved and adored, and how could you not?, and then all of a sudden, bang, Illyria.  To see where she went with that - I just loved watching from A to Z, all these levels.  It's amazing.  I think [Amy] got to spread her wings more than anybody else."

LORNE'S HARMONICA
One of Andy's all-time favourite Angel episodes is "Harm's Way," even though Lorne doesn't have much to do in it.  "I love Mercedes [McNab, who plays Harmony].  I think that she's hysterically funny.  I personally have never laughed that hard at an episode.  She's one of those people who's able to take a line and just run away with it.  Anybody else could say it and it wouldn't have the same impact.  Sometimes she wasn't even big or over the top with it, it was just her delivery, it was perfect."

A GREEN THUMB (AND HAND)
Andy considers Angel's on-set make-up supervisor/Lorne make-up artist Dayne Johnson to be one of his best friends: "Dayne is just such an awesome person.  He's just extraordinary.  And he is hilariously funny, Dayne and I see each other the most out of anybody [from Angel]."

Dayne sometimes had to insist that Andy let him re-apply make-up.  When Lorne angrily punches his mirror reflection in "Life of the Party," Andy cut his hand on the safety glass.  "That became an issue, because my hand was bleeding, so this hand had to be held underneath the [desk].  Dayne says it's impossible for me to talk without my hands.  If he saw paint missing [from the hand], he'd say, 'Come here, you need a touch-up.' I'd say, 'No, no, I'll handle this, I'll hold this hand [out of sight].' And he'd say, 'There's not a chance in Hell!  It's like not breathing for you.  Whenever you say you're not going to have your hands up, next thing I know, I'll be watching the monitor [showing a video feed of the scene as it's shot], and I swear you're doing it just to kill me, because you'll do something like this - Andy imitates Dayne imitating one of Lorne's hand gestures, "right into the camera!" 

Article courtesy of the Official UK Angel Magazine Issue #23

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