What's in a name?
We asked that recently in our Moviefone Salute to Guys Named Leonard. Now with two new films starring guys named Hal -- the comic-book extravaganza 'Green Lantern' and the indie 'Beginners' -- it seemed like a good time to review who else has borne the sometimes princely name.
There are hunks, heroes and even a few inspired by real-life Hals. And the most famous Hal of all (as you've likely surmised) isn't even human.
Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan in 'Green Lantern' (2011)
Regular guy Hal Jordan is just another earthling (albeit an adrenaline-fueled test pilot) when he's bequeathed a mysterious ring by a dying alien. Soon, he finds himself whisked into outer space as he joins the brotherhood of the Green Lantern and fighting to save earth, all while keeping his identity a secret and looking a bit like the Jolly Green Giant. The character (who's not the first human to wield the ring) was inspired by Paul Newman.
William Holden as Hal Carter in 'Picnic' (1955)
Holden's Hal is a hunky drifter who ignites the interest of small-town beauty Kim Novak in this 1950s classic. His shirtless scenes make him the hottest character to ever bear the name, before ab-tastic Reynolds in 'Green Lantern,' anyway. Future Mike Hammer of the movies Ralph Meeker played Hal in the first stage production and Josh Brolin took on the role in 2000 opposite Gretchen Mol.
Christopher Walken as Hal Weidmann in 'America's Sweethearts' (2001)
Walken's eccentric director was reportedly based on Hal Ashby, the real-life director who famously became a recluse after '70s hits 'Coming Home' and 'Being There.' He also raised eyebrows with his erratic on-set behavior (like hiring his girlfriends to edit his films). In 'Sweethearts,' loose cannon Hal delivers a film that's all real, behind-the-scenes footage of his battling, married co-stars (John Cusack and Catherine Zeta-Jones).
Jack Black as Hal Larson in 'Shallow Hal' (2001)
The premise in this Farrelly brothers comedy is that Hal has ridiculously high standards when it comes to women, even though he's no prize himself. An encounter with inspirational speaker Tony Robbins turns Hal into a guy who sees inner -- and not outer -- beauty, so soon he's hitting on the homeliest of wallflowers. He falls madly for plus-size Rosemary (Gwyneth Paltrow in a fat suit), but sees only the size-zero version of her. Why is he named Hal? Probably because 'Shallow Jack' just didn't sound as funny.
Michael Rooker as Hal Tucker in 'Cliffhanger' (1993)
Rooker is so good at playing bad in films like 'Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer' and 'Tombstone' that it's nice to see him play a good guy here. Admittedly, he does try to kill pal Gabe (Sylvester Stallone) at one point, but that's because Gabe got Hal's girlfriend killed. Can ya blame the guy? He also ably executes one of the best reversals we've ever seen as he sends a villain to his death instead of the other way around. (See the NSFW clip here.)
Mel Gibson as Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore in 'We Were Soldiers' (2002)
One of the only characters named after a real guy named Hal, Gibson plays the fatherly leader of a troop preparing to be sent to Vietnam. Not as memorable as guys he played named Max or Martin (Riggs), but, given Gibson's recent anti-Semitic rants, it's of interest for the pro-diversity, "we're all in this together" speech his character gives on the eve of deployment.
Lance Henriksen as Detective Hal Vukovich in 'The Terminator' (1984)
In this sci-fi classic, Henriksen's an overworked and under-appreciated LA detective who thinks he's dealing with a "one-day pattern killer" when two women named Sarah Connor turn up dead. He gets no glory, as proven in the scene where he tries to explain a scar earned on the job and no one pays any attention to him. But he does go out in a blaze of glory, of sorts, in a shoot-out with the unstoppable Terminator himself. RIP, Det. Vukovich.
Christopher Plummer as Hal in 'Beginners' (2010)
In this poignant indie, based on writer/director Mike Mills' own family, Hal is a widower who shocks his son Oliver (Ewan McGregor) when he comes out at the age of 75 and gets himself a young boyfriend. The 81-year-old Plummer was Oscar-nominated for the first time for his role in 2010's 'The Last Station' and certainly seems due for another shot, which would put this Hal in good company with guys named Hannibal and Hamlet.
Jonah Hill as the voice of Titan / Hal Stewart in 'Megamind' (2010)
This gullible and hapless cameraman is accidentally upgraded to a superhero named Titan -- or, "Tighten," if you're as clueless as he is -- by Megamind's serum derived from the Superman-esque DNA of Metro Man. Nothing good comes of it, of course. Hal's name, by the way, is a nod to Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and John Stewart.
Douglas Rain as the voice of HAL 9000 in '2001: A Space Odyssey' (1969)
The chess-playing, lip-reading, monotone-voiced, murderous machine of Stanley Kubrick's space epic was nearly female and then, briefly, British. Two other actors first voiced HAL before little-known Canadian actor Douglas Rain. Kubrick found Nigel Davenport (father of 'Pirates' star Jack Davenport)'s readings too British and wasn't satisfied with Martin Balsam ('Psycho') either. Rain nailed HAL's soullessness in lines like "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that." Jeez, how hard is it to open those pod bay doors?