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 IBM. Hall grew up an only child; his sister died in infancy before his birth. His father died of prostate cancer in 1982, at the age of 39, when Hall was eleven years old. He has said of this: "There was a very one-on-one, immediate family relationship, my mom and I." In a 2004 interview, Hall stated of his father's death: "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.