In the first installment of our talk with Michael C. Hall, star of Showtime's hit Dexter (Sundays at 9 pm/ET), the actor told us about what makes the likeable serial killer tick. This time we hear about Dexter's closest allies and his biggest foe, his complicated relationship with his dead father, those evocative voiceovers, and what's up next for Hall.
TVGuide.com: Tell us about Dexter and his sister, Debra (played by Jennifer Carpenter). It seems like she's the most steady person in his life.
Michael C. Hall: From the beginning, he says, "If I had feelings for anyone, it would be for Deb." She was there from the beginning for him. And while the door was maybe closed in her face or she stayed home, she was around for all of the years of mentoring or whatever you want to call it, whatever went on between Harry and Dexter. And in a more immediate sense, she was there — her eyes opened right when he stopped that knife [held by his brother, the "Ice Truck Killer," who was about to kill her]. There's always a sense that on some level, she knows without knowing. It's a very potent relationship. She's the person who's closest to him in a way, and a person whom he's sort of charged with championing, because probably something down in Harry's list is to take care of Deb. And yet the more Dexter takes care of her and champions her and helps facilitate her move forward, the more there's a risk there that she gains the tools to discover who he really is.
TVGuide.com: The struggle between Doakes and Dexter has been pretty incredible to watch.
Hall: The head butt. [Laughs] We have so much fun, Erik [King] and I, in playing those scenes. It's just so fun to go to that total animal, instinctual, male place.
TVGuide.com: Don't you love the irony of a serial killer working at the police station that's trying to catch the Bay Harbor Butcher, with no one but Doakes suspecting that Dexter is actually their guy?
Hall: The way the show is structured, Dexter's surrounded by people who are in one way or another keeping secrets and in one way or another a bit off. You could reasonably believe that an objective observer would look at Dexter and everybody else who populates his world, and he would probably not be top tier in terms of the craziest one. And that's kind of fun. It's a great group — everyone's really behind the show and happy to be at work. And the crew are fans of the show; they'll get scripts of the next episode, and you can see them going off and sitting on their apple box, rifling through to see what happens next. And that just doesn't happen in TV, but it does on our show, which is pretty great.
TVGuide.com: Meanwhile, Dexter has also been uncovering all these secrets from his past, especially about Harry. The most recent revelation was that Harry actually killed himself.
Hall: The code has been his fundamental touchstone, and it's been totally upended, and he's discovering the underbelly of all of it. As a result, he questions his relationship to his father, to his past and to the code. But I think he does maintain an awareness that the code, no matter where it's come from, has served him well. And so his relationship to it is in the midst of a transition, but I don't think he's quite ready to throw out the baby with the bath water, whatever revelations emerge or will continue to emerge about Harry. There's a lot more to unfold on that front, too. The further we go, there's a lot of resolution and a lot of forward momentum, but there's all kinds of "What if... maybe...."
TVGuide.com: Dexter's relationship with Rita seems to be on the mend. Is she a necessary balance for him?
Hall: She was sort of the perfect cover for Dexter initially, and I think in spite of the fact that she's changing and Dexter's changing and their relationship's changing and is obviously rocky, she remains attractive for that reason. It is, ultimately, a kind of tragic relationship. I think Dexter, even though he's very much dedicated to not being caught, also has a desire to reveal himself, and we saw that manifesting in NA. He was kind of like, "I can tell the truth about myself; it's a real stress relief." We see that appetite from time to time.
TVGuide.com: The voiceovers on the show are incredible. How do they work?
Hall: Sometimes it feels appropriate to literally think [the voiceover lines] in real time, or to try to at least. The script supervisor is always like, "You didn't give enough time." Because you think faster than you talk. Or sometimes the spirit of the voiceover, and whatever that might mean, is something I focus on. Other times, it's really something that accompanies other actions, and I don't need to concern myself with it. I do them on this recording device for the temporary track, and when I do ADR [automated dialogue replacement] for the show, during that session, I two-picture read all the voiceover. It goes a long way if you can just sort of allow certain changes in thought to coincide with the editing points.
TVGuide.com: Did you read the Jeff Lindsay Dexter novels?
Hall: I read the first one, because I knew the first season at least loosely followed it. I read it when I was considering the job, to get a sense of where things might be headed. But when I heard that they weren't really using subsequent books, I almost didn't want to read anything else and just allow the show to take over completely. Flying without a safety net.
TVGuide.com: You're about to start working on the movie Game. What's it about?
Hall: It's [being shot] in New Mexico, and stars Gerard Butler. It's a near-future sci-fi cautionary tale about this video game that's caught the public by storm, which allows gamers to manipulate real people in real time in a killing game. I play the guy who invented the game.
TVGuide.com: Sounds like another dark role for you.
Hall: I suppose it is — he's certainly someone who is without much of a sense of conflict, which has its appeal at this point in terms of flexing different muscles.
TVGuide.com: Do you play video games yourself?
Hall: No, I’m kind of a tech-tard. I do have an iPod, a laptop, a Mac. Look at this cell phone. [Takes out a battered old specimen]. I almost have it as a source of pride. It's a stretch. I'm not much of a wizard.
TVGuide.com: What else are you doing on your hiatus, besides the movie?
Hall: The show is being released in Australia. I went over there to do a press tour and had a little bit of a vacation. It was fantastic. And then I went to North Carolina to sing at my cousin's wedding. "The Prayer," the song is called; I did a duet with my cousin's sister. Most of what I sang was in Italian, and I wrote it out phonetically and used a music stand. But it went fine.
TVGuide.com: You're a great singer, as we saw in Six Feet Under. Any chance of Dexter having a musical number?
Hall: No. I think we'll just keep that in check. [Laughs] Hey, I wouldn't rule anything out. But I don't anticipate a dream sequence. He's got a little dance in him, but not a lot of sing.
See what else Michael C. Hall had to say in Part 1 of our interview.
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