Killer role … Michael C. Hall as Dexter.As embodied by actor Michael C. Hall, the serial killer at the centre of Dexter not only harbours an evil side but a benevolent one. Combining those opposites is what makes Dexter fascinating to watch … and to play, Hall says.
”Dexter’s a vexing character,” Hall says. ”In some ways I feel like he’s a person who could never be; he’s an idea. It’s implausible to think that someone could pull off what we’re invited to believe he’s pulling off. So that’s tricky. And you can’t really spend too much time thinking about logistical implausibility. [You must] let it work on a more symbolic or metaphoric level.
”What I think ultimately you need to do, no matter what, is focus on the script and the words you have to say, and that is your map,” Hall says. ”And I think if you honour that, you’ll be OK if it’s a script that’s worth anything. And in the case of Dexter, they certainly are.”
Just accepting the creepy role was an act of valour. Hall had just come off playing gay mortician David Fisher in HBO’s Six Feet Under. He was cautioned against both roles.
”I don’t entirely feel they’re choices I’ve made. I feel that the roles chose me,” he says. ”It’s not like I looked at every other part that was available for an actor on television and decided, ‘You know, I think I’ll play David Fisher.’ It just came across my desk. And when I read that script for Six Feet Under’s pilot, I had the sense I knew how to do it. Because he was a gay character – and this was back in ’99 – when I auditioned there was a sense, ‘You’re going to be pigeonholed. You’re going to shoot yourself in the foot.’ I heard that, but the question I asked myself was, ‘Well, am I an actor or not? … If there is some issue of typecasting or hamstringing myself, I’ll deal with that.”’
As it turns out, he’s dealt with much worse. Hall was diagnosed with a form of Hodgkin’s lymphoma and had to undergo chemotherapy while he was making Dexter. About that he sighs, ”Thankfully I’m fine and out of the woods.”
A short time later he and his second wife, Jennifer Carpenter, divorced. Ironically, she plays his adoptive sister in Dexter and they continue to work together on the series. ”It’s a challenge,” he admits. ”I won’t pretend it’s not a unique and unprecedented dynamic that exists for both of us in our relationship. But I think we really have truly remained friends and certainly colleagues who have a lot of respect for one another and a lot of respect for the show.”
Pausing, he adds, ”I think we both actually take a lot of pride in the way that we maintained our professionalism, our commitment to one another, our commitment to the characters we’re playing in the show.
”It’s certainly a lot more interesting than we anticipated going in.”
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.