Michael C. Hall On “Cold In July” For Men’s Journal

Michael C. Hall On "Cold In July" For Men's Journal

Michael C. Hall has starred in some of the most serious shows on television (Six Feet Under, Dexter), suspense thrillers (Paycheck, Gamer) and last year’s murder mystery Kill Your Darlings. His projects are invariably macabre, and his new film Cold in July is no different. A retro crime thriller meets grisly action flick, it follows an innocent Texas man (played by Hall) who kills a home intruder in self-defense only to find that he was set up by a gang of corrupt cops. It’s dark and twisted, and unsurprisingly, Hall shines. Men’s Journal caught up with Michael C. Hall in New York to talk more about the movie, working with Sam Shepard and more.

As you transitioned out of eight seasons of Dexter,  were you looking for more human roles?   

Definitely. I wanted to play more of an Average Joe, or an everyman to whom crazy things seem to happen. And they certainly do in this film. It’s a surprising story. It creates expectations and then defies them. It feels like three movies in one.

There are a few purely circumstantial similarities between this film and Dexter – violence, suspense, grit. Did you find yourself accidentally switching back into your old character?  

The fact that there are common external events helped me concentrate. I had a deeper understanding of the character. Like, Dexter doesn’t kill people with guns and if he did, his hand wouldn’t shake. And he wouldn’t accidentally pull the trigger. And he’d kill somebody because he planned to. Meanwhile, this guy had an immediate sense of horror and remorse. And that grit that you see, he’s swept up in it. It scares him, but deep down, it’s also kind of seductive to him.

It’s a fantasy and a nightmare.

Exactly. At one point, he’s trying to come up with a lie to tell his wife for why he has to go to Houston and he says, ‘I’ve been waiting for something big like this.’ It’s a complete revelation. He is a guy whose life has happened to him, and he’s waking up to it. He also has some misgivings about his right to own himself as a man. The other two male characters that surround him (played by Sam Shepard and Don Johnson) are iconic models of what it means to be a man, albeit in different ways. And he just wants to be along for the ride. 

The idea of earning your manhood is a relatable concept. Otherwise you just feel like a poser. 

Absolutely. And the movie isn’t suggesting that in order to become a man you have to kill bad guys, but you have to step into the ring. My character just feels like a patsy. He feels like he hasn’t chosen the life he’s living, and he doesn’t have everything figured out, but he’s sure he doesn’t want to be a fucking patsy. 

You just filmed an episode of Years of Living Dangerously, in which you go to Bangladesh to see the effects of climate change. What sparked your interest in that project? 

I heard about that right after wrapping Dexter and Cold in July, and the immediate appeal was that it was based in real life. It was a totally new field. Bangladesh blew my mind. It was overwhelming to be there and know that in a matter of years all of that land and all of those people will be displaced. It put a very human face on climate change and an appreciation of the scale and immediacy of the issue. It was a heavy thrust back into reality. 

Are you interested in being a leading man?

No, not in a way that is confining or reductive. I don’t want to be a leading man if that means that the spectrum of what I’m invited or allowed to do is narrowed.

Were you excited to work with Sam Shepard?

Oh, completely. I mean, he’s Sam Shepherd. He’s the man. Let’s just say I had some mind-bending conversations with him while filming. He’s a deep dude.




VIDEO: Michael C. Hall And Jim Mickle On “Cold In July”

VIDEO: Michael C. Hall And Jim Mickle On "Cold In July"

Directed by Jim Mickle and starring Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard and Don Johnson,Cold in July” is a Texas-set noir thriller that sees the former Dexter star playing a different kind of killer. Mickle and Hall spoke about why it took so long to get the movie made, why Hall found his role a nice change of pace after playing Dexter for so long, where Mickle drew his influences from and much more. Watch the video below.

Michael C. Hall For IGN: “Sometimes I Wish Dexter Had Died”

Michael C. Hall Interview For IGN: "Sometimes I Wish Dexter Had Died"

IGN had the chance to speak with Michael C. Hall recently about the proposed Dexter spin-off series, to which the actor responded that he had, “no immediate plans” to revisit the role. Hall joked that this one would be the show in which Dexter “goes around chopping down all of the bad trees.” Adding in a more serious vein that he’d “learned to never say never.” 

“It’s very difficult for me to imagine someone coming up with something that is compelling enough for that to be worth doing,” Hall continued. “I certainly have no interest right now in playing Dexter. You know, some time passes and somebody has some newly imagined landscape for him that I feel is worth exploring, I would perhaps consider it. Beyond that vague notion, I really can’t say, and it’s not something I have any immediate plans to do. He is still alive, but for right now, I’m leaving him in the cabin.” 

When asked if it may have been a more fitting end for Dexter to not survive that raging tempest, the actor acknowledged that it may have been, noting that the final season of the show was rocky. 

“You know, Dexter morphed,” Hall said. “It was a many-headed creative monster, and certain heads were lopped off halfway through the life of the show. It was difficult to maintain a cohesive narrative in many ways, but primarily, in terms of the conception of the character, once he started to move into murkier, blurrier, more human territory, it became a very difficult thing to wrap my head around. But in the end, I think Dexter was always a pragmatist and, well, self-centered. I think it was his version of selflessness upon recognition that anyone close to him was going to be destroyed if he continued to indulge in intimate relationships. You know, his dad died, Rita died — well, once he decided that, he faked his death and erased himself, but he didn’t want to die. I honestly find it to be a pretty dark ending, and I think it upset a lot of people. Certainly, the shakiness of certain aspects of the eighth season maybe made that ending less palatable to people. I don’t think people were ready to be told that, because they were already feeling a sense of ambivalence for the show. But the idea that he imprisons himself in a prison of his own making I think is fitting [for the character].”

“It’s tricky,” Hall reflected. “Sometimes I wish he’d offed himself, wish he’d died, wish Deb had shot him in that train compartment — of course, that would have made an eighth season difficult to do,” the actor reflected wryly.


Michael C. Hall Is Open To A “Dexter” Spin-Off, Defends Controversial Finale

Michael C. Hall Is Open To A "Dexter" Spin-Off, Defends Controversial Finale

Michael C. Hall was on “Watch What Happens Live” Thursday, May 15, with his current Broadway co-star Toni Collette. The actor talked about a possible “Dexter” spin-off and defended the series controversial finale

“I think that he got what he decided he deserved,” says Hall. “He exiled himself, because it became clear to him that interaction with the world and the people he cared about did nothing but ultimately destroy the people he cared about. … I think he got what he deserved, I feel good about it.”  

Later, a caller asks if he misses the show and then if he’d be open to a spin-off series: “Yes, I loved doing the series. It felt like getting away with something, it felt like getting away with murder, literally,” says Hall. “Getting a job as an actor feels that way generally, but more to the point with ‘Dexter.’ As far as a spinoff goes, it’s hard for me to imagine what that would be. I couldn’t come up with that idea. If someone does, I’ll look at it. But it’s tough to say. … Maybe I could have cameo appearances on a show called ‘Masuka.'”