When Kevin Peter Hall opens the door of his North Hollywood apartment, two inches of his head are missing. No, he isn’t the victim of a shortsighted architect (the door is normal size) or a lobotomist gone amok. The man is tall—7’2″ tall—and that is the source of his troubles and triumphs.
Start with the triumphs. Hall, 32, is playing feature roles in two movies this summer. He’s the soft-hearted Bigfoot in Harry and the Hendersons and the snot-drenched swamp monster who stalks Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator. True, neither movie marks a great advance in the cinema art. As one New York TV critic said of Hall and his current movies, “With this track record, how did he miss Ishtar?” But critics be damned. Predator is one of the country’s top-grossing movies, with Harry only a few notches below it—making Hall one of the summer’s hottest, if least recognizable, stars.
Then there’s the downside—to wit, growing up as a shy, gangly kid. For the future feature creature, walking tall in those days brought some low points. A Pittsburgh native, the son of Charles and Sylvia Hall, he was the tallest of eight children. “I was so awkward, I could trip over a painted line,” says Hall, who started his junior year in Penn Hills High at 6’5″ and finished it at 6’9″. “Your muscles never catch up with your growth, so you’re as awkward as an ostrich or a baby giraffe.”
Hall won a basketball scholarship to George Washington University, but his heart—as well as his major—was in theater arts. A year after graduation he moved to Los Angeles, where he began specializing in what he calls grunt parts—a deformed bear in John Frankenheimer’s Prophecy, a dragon in a TV movie, Mazes and Monsters. The only noteworthy human role he landed was as a scientist in NBC’s 1985 series Misfits of Science.
His manager, Jay Fenichel, says Hall has grown “more comfortable with himself since being recognized as an actor. Once he couldn’t even go into stores because he didn’t have the confidence to shrug off remarks about the weather up there.” He agrees with his manager that he’s adjusting to his altitude, and he doesn’t deny that there are advantages to being Hollywood’s best-known human high-rise. “I don’t even have an agent because the work comes to me,” says Hall. “I figure I’m the tallest actor in town. I’ve even got Richard Moll of Night Court beat by six inches.” In other words, as far as films go, there’s really no ceiling on Hall’s future.