Via Metro: Michael C Hall, 42, has played analyst-cum-serial killer Dexter for seven years in a show he says operates in a ‘morally grey area’. Read more after the jump.
Dexter kills according to ‘the code’, slaying only those who ‘deserve’ it. Does he deserve a medal or the death penalty?
I think he should be given a medal and then beaten to death with it. I try not to weigh in on the morality of Dexter but there are many forms of punishment, and not all by traditional means.
Do you worry about being too strongly identified with one character after playing him for seven years?
I look forward to finding out. I would like to hope there are things on the horizon I can’t imagine yet. But I realize Dexter will probably be on my tombstone.
How do people treat you in the supermarket since you started playing a serial killer?
They are very polite: ‘You go ahead, go ahead. No, no, you go, go, you go first. I am sure you are in a hurry.’ In seriousness, if people are truly scared or freaked out, they don’t say anything at all. Most people seem to have a real enthusiasm for Dexter.
How have you managed to negotiate being married to, then divorced from, your co-star Jennifer Carpenter, who plays Debra on the show?
I think it’s a testament to our commitment to the show and to our work generally. Also, our relationship was initially contextualized through our relationship at work and that’s never changed. We have been through quite a journey personally but, thankfully, there remains a fundamental friendship and respect.
Has it ever concerned you that people might claim to be inspired by Dexter and his code of killing?
From the beginning, I was excited by the fact that the show operates in a morally grey area and is quite subversive. I don’t see the show as advocating a serial-killer lifestyle and I don’t think anybody looks at Dexter and thinks that is the sort of stress they want in their lives.
This is potentially the penultimate season of the show – what will you miss the most?
Well, I won’t miss putting on that kill suit. It has harnesses and multiple gloves – putting it on is quite an operation.
Three years ago, you beat Hodgkin’s lymphoma. How did you deal with making a hit show while having cancer treatment?
I was very fortunate to have discovered it at an early stage and at a time just before a hiatus from work, so I was afforded the luxury to really commit to my treatment. I also have good health insurance and that made things a lot easier. There is a lot of cancer in my family: people who have gone through it, survived it, died from it – and going through that experience helped me to feel closer to some of them, in a way. I still think about it and make discoveries about it, three years on.
How do you account for the public’s fondness for a serial killer?
Over the past ten or 15 years, there has been a culture of the anti-hero on television, with pretty significant skeletons in the closet. The audience perhaps likes being given a little more credit than they are accustomed to having, in terms of who they identify with and root for. All dark corners are revealed and people seem to respond to that.
After seven years on such a graphic and gruesome show, do you ever think: ‘Maybe I’d like to do a nice sitcom now’?
Yes, maybe Ashton Kutcher [of Two-And-A-Half Men] is getting bored. I wouldn’t rule anything out. The one thing I ruled out when Six Feet Under ended was another television series being my next job and you can see where that got me. I don’t want to close that door but another open-ended commitment to something that could potentially go five or more years is a little daunting at this point.
The show deals with the death penalty and California recently rejected Proposition 34, which would have abolished capital punishment in the state. How do you feel about that?
Morality aside, my understanding is that it is a huge drain on the economy to keep those people on death row. I am not in favor of the death penalty and I was discouraged to see that result.
How do you go home and shake off the darkness after a day of playing Dexter?
The act of taking off Dexter’s clothes, putting on my own clothes, getting in my car and driving home helps. If it’s not too late, doing some exercise – breaking a sweat. I think the trickiest thing with Dexter is the fact that he’s always simulating his behavior and, as actors, that’s what we do anyway. So we probably all have some sort of preoccupation with our relative authenticity or inauthenticity, which makes me wonder how different I am from him. Apart from the fact that I don’t kill people.