NOTE: This article is about Hal from the 2020 adaptation The Call of the Wild. The mainstream version can be found here: Hal, Mercedes and Charles.
|“||I came all the way out here! You knew something, didn't you? You wanted it all for yourself! Where is it? Where's the gold?||„|
|~ Hal interrogating Thornton after shooting him.|
Hal is the main antagonist of the 2020 live-action adaptation of Jack London's The Call of the Wild.
He is a wealthy gold seeker who mistreats Buck and plans to kill John Thornton. While the original novel depicted Hal as a minor antagonist, he was nothing more than an ignorant jerk. However, in the film adaptation, Hal proves to be more evil than his original counterpart and becomes the arch-nemesis of Buck and John Thornton.
He was portrayed by Dan Stevens, who also played David Collins in The Guest, David Haller in Legion, Sir Lancelot in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, and the Beast in the live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast.
Hal is an extremely egotistical, greedy, ruthless, abusive and hot-tempered man who only cares about gold. Like his book counterpart and family, he is very inexperienced at surviving in the wilds of the Klondike. He didn't care about his family nor his dogs' safety of the dangers ahead, even ignoring Thornton's advice about the thin ice over the pond. When Buck and the other dogs refused to cross the ice, he still insisted on crossing it and tried to kill Buck until Thornton stopped him.
After his family, dogs and fortune were lost, he became obsessed with getting revenge on Thornton and trying to kill him and Buck, although he himself was responsible for their disappearances. When he found out about Thornton's journey to find gold, he believed that he was out to find it for himself and keep it away from other prospectors.
When Hal comes across Buck and his team after Perrault and Francoise sold them off, Pike barks at him. He then picks them up and takes them to his family. Hal and his family try to get Buck and his team to mush, but they struggle to pull the sled. Mercedes asks if they're broken, but Hal tells her that they're just lazy and orders Charles to hit Buck. As Charles prepares to strike Buck, John Thornton intervenes and stops him. Thornton tells Hal that the sled is frozen under the ice and breaks it free. Thornton asks Hal where they're going, but Hal tells him that it's none of his business. Thornton then tells Hal about an abandoned cabin near a river of gold and warns them about the dangers on their journey, but Hal ignores him. Charles orders the dogs to mush and they leave Dawson.
Throughout the journey, Buck and the team struggle to keep up as they climb up a mountain. Dolly slips and the entire sled slides down until Buck stops it. Hal gets back up and whips the team to get them to go further, unaware of the danger that lies ahead. They eventually arrive at a frozen lake and the team stops dead on their tracks, but Hal continues to push Buck, in spite of Mercedes' warnings. Hal pulls out his gun to shoot Buck, but Thornton arrives in the nick of time to stop him and holds him at gunpoint. Thornton confronts Hal and explains that he's trying to save their lives as he pushes him down onto the frozen lake. Thornton frees Buck and Hal threatens him as the other dogs snarl at him. Mercedes warns him that they shouldn't cross the lake, but he refuses to listen to her and pushes the dogs to walk over the frozen lake. Thornton warns him not to do it, but Hal again ignores him as he and his family walk over the ice.
One night, Thornton walks to a bar and Buck follows him after recovering. Hal walks in and punches Thornton in the face, causing him to fall to the ground. Hal blames him for letting his dogs run off and for making him lose his fortune as he kicks Thornton. Buck bolts into the bar and attacks Hal until two men hold him back. Hal tries to explain what happened and Buck lashes out at him. Hal decides to have Buck put down now, but a man named Edenshaw confronts him and pulls out his gun, resulting in him getting thrown out of the bar.
While Buck and Thornton are on their journey to find gold at the abandoned cabin in the uncharted wilderness, Hal comes to Thornton's cabin and breaks in. He knocks down some stuff off a desk and notices a map leading to the cabin, so he sets out to find him.
When Thornton decides to go back home and parts ways with Buck, he notices a flock of birds flying out of the trees in the distance. Unbeknownst to him, Hal has followed him and arrived at his cabin. The following night, Thornton senses Hal's presence and sets out to investigate. However, Hal fires a shot and Thornton accidentally drops his lantern, setting the cabin on fire. As Hal tries to enter the cabin, Thornton blocks the door and grabs hold of his rifle. Thornton comes out and they fight until Hal manages to mortally wound him. Hal demands Thornton to tell him where the gold is and he tosses his gold to him. As he prepares to kill Thornton, Buck leaps from the roof of the cabin onto Hal and knocks the rifle from his hands. Hal grabs his club and Buck cowers. As Hal swings his club, Buck manages to grab it and yank it out of his hands. Buck then pushes Hal into the burning cabin and it collapses on him, killing him.
Despite Hal's death, the wound he inflicted on Thornton proves to be fatal and Thornton passes away shortly afterwards, thanking Buck for his company and asking him to live for himself. Buck does so and fully embraces the call of the wild, becoming the leader of a wolf pack, finding a mate named Carol and fathering offspring, finally getting a new home.
- Unlike the book, Hal survived drowning in the frozen lake and wanted revenge on Thornton. In the book, Hal and his family were simply incompetent and were inexperienced in surviving the Northland. The dogs of the sled team also perished in the frozen lake.
- Hal's confrontation with Thornton at the bar was inspired by Black Burton from the original book.
- Thornton was murdered by a fictional Native American tribe known as the Yeehats in the book. The reason for this change was because it would have been too violent for younger audiences and possibly because it would be deemed racist.
- In the novel, Hal was cruel to Buck and the team, but he was rather ignorant than malicious.
- In an alternate version of the film, when Hal confronts Thornton, he tells him that the dogs and his family have perished in the ice: "I lost everything because of you! My dogs, my sister...". However, this was changed to keep the children from being upset.