Michael C. Hall Says He Has No Idea If Dexter Affected His Life: “Probably In Ways I Couldn’t Tell You”

‘It was fantastic to be ethically unbound’.

Ali Smith/The Guardian

In a brand new interview with The Guardian, Dexter star Michael C. Hall discusses nostalgia, psychopathy, his time on the HBO hit series Six Feet Under and of course, Dexter: New Blood.

via The Guardian (written by Zoe Williams): Michael C Hall’s face is weirdly immutable – he looks no different now, at 50, from a decade or more ago, when he would loom down from giant posters as Dexter, the footloose serial killer. In fact, he looks pretty much the same as he did in Six Feet Under, playing David Fisher, right at the start of the century – he has one of those very structured faces, its features and angles carved so surely that there’s nowhere for them to disintegrate into.

Which is fortunate, since, in a highly unusual move, Showtime has brought Dexter back to life after an eight-year hiatus, and what looked like an extinction event, back in 2013. Dexter: New Blood has more complexity and less puckishness, certainly, than the first two series. He’ll talk about that in a minute, but first, he says: “I have to just respond to this text very briefly. My wife and I, our dog is sick and she wants to make sure she’s OK.” He’s now married to Morgan Macgregor, a journalist on the Los Angeles Review of Books, after an elopement and brief marriage to his Dexter co-star Jennifer Carpenter in 2008. His first marriage was to the fabulous Broadway hoofer Amy Spanger in the early 00s.

I wonder whether mentioning his pet is a subliminal attempt to separate from the outset his own character from Dexter’s, which has dominated his life for so many years. Psychopaths are famously terrible with animals and would have no use for a poorly dog. “People often ask the question, ‘How are you like Dexter? How has Dexter affected your life or your experience of this or that?’ and I have no idea,” he says. “Probably in ways I couldn’t tell you. It’s really difficult to pinpoint what or how anything influences anything else.” It must be hard for an actor of serious intent to prepare for a role like Dexter, I suggest: it’s not as if you could go round committing murder as part of your process. He considers this quite carefully. “Even if I killed someone, I could never replicate his experience of killing because he doesn’t care. I’d have to find something else that I do and other people find disgusting.”

Hall speaks with extreme deliberation, weighing every word and leaving unabashed, gigantic pauses between one thought and the next. Just from a practical point of view, he is an absolute joy to interview, no baggy filler words, his voice as clear as a bell. If you didn’t own a TV, you would peg him immediately as a stage actor, classically trained. He was a graduate of New York’s Tisch School of Arts in the mid-90s, with a solid and swift progression from playing Shakespearean leads off-Broadway to roles such as the Emcee in Cabaret in Sam Mendes’s celebrated Broadway production.

The Guardian

He had reservations about reviving the role: “I didn’t want it to be some sort of nostalgia piece where we did a recontextualised version of the same sort of story arcs.” But the new season presents us with quite a different protagonist, one who, having tried to desist from his homicidal urges and monastically eschew all meaningful human contact, is on the cusp of realising that that’s not possible. “He claims that he’s not capable of authentic human emotion when we first meet him,” Hall recalls. “I don’t know that he’s the most reliable narrator on that front but it seems plausible.”

In those earlier seasons, he says, “It was fantastic to be completely unbound by any ethic beyond whatever you constructed for yourself. It was very fun. And I do still feel like there’s a dusting or a vapour of that energy that exists in him, and we see it. But it’s no longer pure, it’s cut with a lot more …” This is the only time he trails off in the middle of an analogy, I think because he doesn’t actually know what you cut drugs with.

It’s almost as though New Blood has taken a truism from psychotherapy – that you can’t numb any one emotion without numbing all of them – and applied it to a psychopath. He has to experience his bloodlust if he wants to have a relationship with his adult son, for instance. “So he continues to kill. I think he ultimately discovers he can’t successfully have his cake and kill it too.” The result is quite a profound exploration, not so much of morality as of emotion and the psyche, told through the medium of a cold-blooded killer. It’s pacy and thought-provoking, but a peculiar place to start, like trying to describe the weather through the medium of dance.

I also thought I divined a new dimension of social commentary since – (slight) spoiler alert – the season’s first victim is an entitled prick, built of money by birth and profession, and that’s why he had it coming. Hall is a bit sceptical about that, though. “I don’t think we have the market cornered on pinpointing the phenomenon of rich assholes.”

One final reason to bring back Dexter was how incredibly annoyed fans and reviewers were by the season finale in 2013. It was commonly held to be so sloppy, so unbelievable, that it didn’t just fail on its own account, it tainted the entire show. To be fair, this critique felt a bit like that directed towards Game of Thrones: one part disappointment in the finale itself, nine parts distress that the show ever had to end. Hall starts off quite defensive of the ending in which he sort of ambiguously drives into a hurricane – “I certainly stand by what happened” – before diverting seamlessly into self-questioning: “We were probably all running on fumes by the end.” Whether he’s standing by it or apologising, he’ll own that part of the reason he agreed to revive Dexter was “to replace the unsavoury or unsatisfying taste that was left in people’s mouths at the end of the series”.

His own serious-mindedness collides with how seriously the world now takes television, to give him this overdeveloped sense of responsibility towards the roles he’s embodied – in a way, he says, “Dexter’s first victim was (Six Feet Under's) David Fisher.” So until a character comes along that can kill Dexter, we can look forward to much more new blood.

If you're interested in what Michael C. Hall said about Six Feet Under, click here for the full article!

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