“Dexter” is finally coming to an end this Sunday, and fans are hoping that the series concludes with a worthy sendoff for a character that is now deeply beloved by a multitude of people around the globe.
Showtime’s morally ambiguous serial killer and the series he carries have become a sensation over the last eight years, and the ratings have never been higher. Michael C. Hall has rarely done interviews over the course of the show, but now that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, he’s come out of seclusion to answer all of our questions, allowing him to fully digest how much this show means to so many people. “Dexter” is a macabre soap opera, and Hall will always be remembered for the role, no matter what he does after all is said and done – something that he is acutely aware but doesn’t seem to mind one bit.
Dread Central: What will you miss most about Dexter as a character?
Michael C. Hall: His… decisiveness, probably. It was nice playing a character who, in spite of unimaginable stress, was always able to act. He’s no Hamlet; he’s a man of action. I always admired that about him.
DC: After eight seasons of playing a killer on television, do you see Dexter as a hero in what he does or see him as a villain?
MCH: I mean, I think an argument can be made for both. He certainly, after gaining the audience’s trust, has done things to challenge that affection. He’s behaved in ways that are both heroic and villainous, I think. As you can tell, I’m reluctant to come down on either side. I think a part of the fun of the show is that it creates that question in the people who watch it. But I do think he has, independent of the code or anything else, an inherent desire within his way outside-the-box context to do the right thing. It doesn’t always work out for him. I would hope for there to be some third choice between hero and villain.
DC: It’s been eight, maybe nine years since you’ve said yes to doing this show. Did it fulfill your expectations? Has it turned out differently? I don’t mean the plotline with “Dexter”; I mean for you and the experience where you said, ‘Gee, I never would’ve imagined it would have lasted this long’ or you’d have to sit with this character this long. Or maybe it made you wealthier beyond your most fabulous dreams. How did it turn out for you?
MCH: As far as wealth goes, I think I’ve been lucky that the things that I’ve done that have been the most artistically viable have also been the most commercially viable – and that’s a lucky position to have been in. I finished “Six Feet Under,” and that was five seasons, and when I signed on to do the show, I knew I was making an open-ended commitment to something that might last five years. I don’t think I imagined that it would last eight and imagined the twists and turns that my life took within the context of those eight seasons. So yeah, I think it was beyond my most wildest dreams, my wildest speculations. It’s a tricky thing when you play a character for this long. Your job changes. The questions you initially answer if you’re encountering a character for the first time… You don’t have to answer those questions in the same way; it’s about getting out of its way. I don’t think I could have anticipated the degree to which that would be a different kind of challenge. I’m sad in some ways that it’s ended, but at the same time I don’t think I’d have it any other way. I think it’s time to let go.
DC: What was your first encounter with the character? What was the process? Did you go after this part? Was it offered to you? What sort of struck you at the beginnin,g and how has that changed over time?
MCH: It was presented to me as a potential opportunity. I had to meet with other heads that made the many-headed creative monster that made up the show and convince them that I wasn’t a funeral director. My initial thought was, ‘This will never work.’ But I was really seduced by its aspiration to work and its chance of working given the tone that it was going to attempt to set. I was intrigued and challenged, and it was a lot of fun. I think as the character, as his appetite for humanity – one that he doesn’t even acknowledge, initially – was further and further exploited, he was a less fun person to be in a way because the lines were blurred. His compartmentalization that he so successfully achieved at the beginning started to crumble. The character certainly moved into territory and places that I never could have anticipated when we started. I mean, that was happening by the third season, let alone the eighth. Early on, I think I realized he was a character on paper, and in terms of the show’s aspirations it was unlike any that I’d ever encountered. So I took the leap in spite of my general misgivings about making another open-ended commitment to a conflicted character surrounded by dead bodies.
DC: Now it might be hard to actually convince somebody that you’re not just a serial killer. Speaking to maybe your legacy as an actor, is it going to be kind of hard to shake this role, do you think? And also, with Dexter’s legacy, do you think he cares about the Morgan family legacy? Do you think he cares about his legacy, and also, how do you feel about your legacy as an actor and being associated with this role so closely?
MCH: Yeah, I think you make a good point. I decided Dexter would be a good way to change people’s perception, but now people’s perception is probably as informed by Dexter as anything else, and that goes with the territory. As far as my legacy as an actor goes, I’d like to think that I’m in a place where I’m not quite ready to look at my career as something that’s behind me. But I think it will definitely, if it’s not written on my tombstone, it will be in my obituary in the first paragraph. And that’s cool. I’m definitely, moving forward, not making choices completely based on a desire to distance myself from darker material. I don’t want to play a lovable serial killer again, but at the same time, I don’t want to limit my options to things that are diametrically opposed to the world of “Dexter” because it’s a multi-faceted role. I can’t really say for sure what the future holds, and I couldn’t have imagined “Dexter” before it presented itself so I’d like to think there are unimaginable things on the horizon. I’m cool with it being a part of my legacy; I think that’s inevitable. As far as Dexter’s, I think he has a preoccupation with his legacy that maybe has come too little, too late. He, as I said, has this exploited appetite for humanity. And really that’s what’s gotten him into trouble and gotten the people in his life into trouble. It’s not the fact that he’s continued to live in service of this compulsion to kill, but he’s tried to concurrently have more authentic and substantial human relationships. I think he’s come to discover that those things can’t quite coexist peacefully and maybe has a desire to, inasmuch as he’s able at this point, make things right, but that’s easier said than done.
The series finale of “Dexter” airs this Sunday night, September 22nd, on Showtime.
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