Hall was born in
Raleigh, North Carolina. His mother, Janice (née Styons) Hall, is a
mental health counselor at
Lees-McRae College, and his father, William Carlyle Hall, worked for
 Hall grew up an only child; his sister died in infancy before his birth. He has said of this: "There was a very one-on-one, immediate
family relationship, my mom and I." His father died of
prostate cancer in 1982, at the age of 39, when Hall was 11 years old.
 In a 2004 interview, Hall stated: "Certainly, for a young boy, there's no good age, but I think I was on the cusp of a time in my life where I was starting to reach
puberty, to relate to my father. To have him.... Something gets frozen. As you revisit it for the rest of your life, it's sort of this slow but hopefully sure crawling—out of that frozen moment."
Hall graduated from
Ravenscroft School in Raleigh, in 1989,
 and from
Earlham College, a
liberal arts college in
Richmond, Indiana, in 1993. He has said that he planned to become a
lawyer but later admitted to never actually intending to go to law school.
 Hall graduated from
New York University's
Graduate Acting Program at the
Tisch School of the Arts in 1996.