Michael C. Hall On Playing A Transsexual Star In “Hedwig And The Angry Inch”

Michael C. Hall On Playing A Transsexual Star In "Hedwig And The Angry Inch"

Michael C. Hall is a master at creating characters who hide their emotions, most famously as a repressed funeral director on HBO’s “Six Feet Under” and the secret serial killer on Showtime’s “Dexter”. So how does this classically trained, classically handsome leading man feel about taking on the flashy, platinum-wigged transsexual star in the Tony Award–winning revival of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”? Read more after the jump.  

“I’m excited and really, really honored,” says Hall, who will begin an 11-week limited engagement at the Belasco Theatre on October 16. “It’s a huge assignment, my first — and maybe last — chance to pretend to be a rock star while telling a beautiful story.” 

Hall’s casting as glam rocker Hedwig Schmidt isn’t really as unexpected as it might appear: He made his Broadway debut 15 years ago as the Emcee in Cabaret, complete with eyeliner, rouged nipples, and lewd dancing with the Kit Kat Girls and Boys. “I’m returning to my German androgynous roots,” he jokes, “but this time I’m wearing a wig and high heels all night long.” Hall’s Cabaret run coincided with the original Off-Broadway production of Hedwig, which he saw and loved. “I thought John [Cameron Mitchell, the show’s author and original star] was incredible, I loved the movie, and I loved the current production, but I never anticipated that it would become part of my life.”

Composer Stephen Trask predicts that audiences will be mesmerized by Hall’s performance. “Michael has this natural, instinctual rock star quality, with his Bowie-esque vocal sound and Iggy-styled physicality,” the composer says.  

"Hedwig And The Angry Inch"For his part, Hall praises Trask’s score for succeeding both as a collection of irresistible rock tunes and, as he puts it, achieving “everything you want a traditional musical to do. There’s such a breadth to the landscape of the music, and every song takes the characters and the story to a new place. It’s very much its own musical world, but there are references to so many artists I grew up loving — Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, David Bowie. It’s an amazing rock ’n’ roll fantasy.” 

In the same way that Hedwig’s music crosses genres, the title character is much more than a joke-spouting “girlieboy” singer. “She’s trashy, in a way,” says Hall, “but she’s also a bit of an intellectual. She’s very intelligent and has a hard-won philosophy about her life and her place in the world. And that view evolves over the course of the show — her armor disintegrates as she states her case to the audience. For me, it’s a return to the dynamic of Cabaret, which is a big part of why it’s exciting.” 

Hedwig has attracted a fervid fan base, which doesn’t surprise Hall. “It’s the beauty of the show’s core message,” he says. “Hedwig is an extreme character, but her journey toward self-acceptance and celebration of her humanity appeals to all of us.” 

A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Hall had a much more conventional upbringing than the character he is stepping into on Broadway. His mom was a college guidance counselor; his dad, who worked for IBM, died when Michael was 11. His early career goals were simple: “To support myself as an actor, work with talented people, and tell stories that meant something to me. It really didn’t go beyond that. As far as the TV stuff, I didn’t even know those jobs existed — in part because hadn’t [in the past]. Thankfully for me, the emergence of cable television as a place for complex and imaginative storytelling coincided with my becoming a professional actor. The Six Feet Under and Dexter scripts challenged me in ways I hadn’t been challenged before. I’m very thankful for that.” 

“I get a lot of energy from being surrounded by people,” he says of Manhattan. “I’m recognized, but it’s in passing; everybody is on their way to do something!” 

Reflecting on the power of shedding his straight-arrow image to play Hedwig, Hall says, “I think we all have aspects of male and female, and it’s very freeing to get to explore that in ways that 99 percent of roles wouldn’t allow. It’s liberating! I recommend this experience to everyone.”  

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Michael C. Hall Answers 6 Questions About Interior Design

Michael C. Hall Answers 6 Questions About Interior Designs

Michael C. Hall proves he knows more than a thing or two about interiors. The former “Dexter” star answers six questions regarding interior design for Lonny Magazine. Read them below. 

Where did your interest in design come from?  

I spent 10 weeks studying and living in Austria when I was in college, and fell in love with the art and architecture of fin-de-siecle Vienna. That was probably the first time I became aware of an interest.  

What’s the first thing people comment on when they come over? 

The generous proportions of the rooms and the abundant light.  

Aside from the Powder Room, what immediately attracted you to the house?

The fusion of Spanish – style architecture with a colonial floor plan was a turn-on. 

Is there anything that made its way into your art collection in an unexpected manner?

The photo of Sitting Bull with the caption “Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children” was left in the Hollywood house I owned previously. I think that one will always stay with me.  

What is your favourite piece in the house?

The orange bench in the kitchen, which is mid-1960s and originally from a German university. Its sturdy structure and bold color soothes and reassures me. And it is remarkably comfortable. It’s a forever piece, for sure. 

Given the fact that you recently put your place on the market, what will your defining memory of it be? 

The way it feels. Simultaneously open and cozy. Private yet inviting. There are so many wonderful places to be, but I think my favorite spot is sitting at the head of the dining table, looking down its length with a view straight out the living room window. 

Michael C. Hall On “Dexter” Ending: “He’s Still Alive And There Is An Open-Ended Nature To That”

Michael C. Hall On "Dexter" Ending: "He's Still Alive And There Is An Open-Ended Nature To That"

Via Independent: It’s not a year since Dexter, everyone’s favourite serial killer with a skewed moral code failed to meet his maker in fitting context and found himself instead logging the forests of Pacific North West under a bearded new guise. But surely Michael C. Hall‘s homicidal fan requests would have quelled, even just a smidge. “No no,” softly chuckles the actor, whose speech pattern is intercepted by so many drawn-out pauses. “They’ve intensified if anything. And I’m more than happy to take pictures with people but it’s the stuff beyond that.”  

So, still bombarded with requests of ‘Dexter, please kill me?’  

“Yes! And I turn them down if they want me to actually act like I’m killing them. ‘No, no, not unless you pay me,’ I say.” 

For eight seasons (perhaps three too long?) Hall majestically embodied the charming, ferocious sociopath, a blood spatter analyst with a double existence as a ‘existential leveller’, a vigilante killer of killers who escaped between the cracks of a flawed judicial system. 

Violent yet also remarkably docile, it was the role of a lifetime for the former Six Feet Under star, who’d previously crossed the primetime boundaries as sexually suppressed undertaker, David Fisher. Hall admits however, after another long, yawning silent break in the conversation, he struggled with Dexter’s ultimate intention. “Particularly a character like Dexter with the twists and turns in the story, it becomes difficult to wrap your head around. I do know in season three, I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that Dexter was getting married and having a child and making all these commitments. His behaviours were much more contradictory than I was able to understand. But that’s a part of the story.”

And the rubbish ending? Michael himself has been previously quoted saying that even he would have liked to see Dexter croak it … “I didn’t say that I wasn’t happy that they didn’t kill him off,” he says, resolving his purports. “I’m just aware that many people are expressing that they aren’t. So many ways they could have ended it. I’m sad that this didn’t resonate with more people as an emotionally satisfying ending but I find it plausible. Undeniably, he’s still alive and there is an open-ended nature to that…” He anticipates my predictable response, ” … and yes, possibly a desire to revisit the character at some point in the story but there are no specific plans to do that.” 

Previously married to his Dexter co-star Jennifer Carpenter, and now involved with Morgan Macgregor, a fiction writer and book reviewer, Hall’s conversation is dotted with existential odes; ‘life is a journey’; ‘you can’t plan too far ahead’; ‘play every day as it comes.’  

Growing up an only child after his older sister passed away in infancy, he also lost his father to cancer when only 11 years old. Then Michael himself developed Hodgkin’s Lymphoma during shooting for the fourth series of Dexter. His logic and general stance on life is absolutely understandable. He went public when accepting his Golden Globe for Actor in a TV series drama, wearing a black knitted cap, at the start of 2010. The ripples have swelled and danced since. 

“I really hadn’t appreciated that that would mean so much to so many people. I felt compelled to explain why I didn’t have any eyebrows and I’m glad I did.” 

A figure of inspiration for so many, the now cured actor finds himself happily speaking about his experiences almost daily. “I have people approach me all the time to let me know that they or somebody they love is struggling with or has survived or has succumbed to… provided them with some strength or comfort or solidarity, that’s very gratifying.”  

He speaks about finishing off his Broadway play, before skating round the bare details of a ‘couple indie’s I’m looking at working on’. 

“Where do I see myself in five years’ time?” he asks, again and again. “Where indeed? I don’t know. On planet earth, sipping coffee.”  

Read the complete interview here

Michael C. Hall Describes Dexter’s Fragrance At The 2014 Fragrance Foundation Awards

Michael C. Hall Describes Dexter's Fragrance At The 2014 Fragrance AwardsMichael C. Hall described Dexter’s fragrance for W Magazine during the 2014 Fragrance Foundation Awards.  

If Dexter had a fragrance, what would it smell like? 

It would be a very sharp, decisive smell. There would be blood, steel and plastic notes in it. It would be appropriate for a man or a woman, if that man or woman deserved to wear it.  

And I imagine the tagline would be “To Kill For?”

Oh yeah. Or “To Die For”.