The Hot Seat: Michael C. Hall
America's favorite serial killer won't star in a musical episode anytime soon.
Tue Sep 22 2009
Illustration: Rob Kelly
After getting his start in flashy stage shows like Cabaret, and then investing five seasons in playing a gay undertaker on HBO's Six Feet Under, Michael C. Hall saw his career take a pleasingly homicidal turn. The 38-year-old actor is about to star in the fourth season of Dexter, as a murderous vigilante with his own offbeat moral code. To keep up the facade, the killer leads a supposedly honest life as a blood-spatter analyst, a new husband and a father of three. Can Dexter survive it all? More important, can Hall survive our questioning?
RECOMMENDED: Full list of Hot Seat interviews
We were scheduled to talk at 1:35 exactly. That's a very specific, Dexter-like time. Are you as meticulous as your character?
Yes, that was very specific. It was actually scheduled for 1:35 and 43 seconds, but I didn't pick the time. I think I'm much less organized and meticulous than Dexter. My house is certainly clean, but it's not as tidy. Plus, my wife [Jennifer Carpenter, who plays Debra on the show] and I don't have a great deal of stuff, so it's actually nice and relatively sparse.
You've got a background on Broadway. Have you seen the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer?
I've heard about it. Are you pitching a musical episode for Dexter? If you have any ideas, maybe you could send me some recordings and I could pitch them to the producers.
Did I just come up with an original idea?
Honestly, that's been a joke that's been floating around for a while. I think everybody is in on it. It came up when I was on Six Feet Under, too. When you're on a show long enough, you sort of think, maybe we'll do a musical episode at some point. But I anticipate that it will remain a joke.
Are you into it?
Not really [Laughs]. In theory it doesn't really appeal. Maybe the reality of it would prove to be really compelling and fantastic, but I can't quite see it.
But this season guest-stars the also-musical John Lithgow as another serial killer.
True. He does sing in one episode, but it's contextual, he doesn't burst into song or anything.
Do you guys sing backstage at least?
No, but we do a lot of laughing.
Tell us more about season four.
Dexter finds himself in a relationship with a new character, the Trinity Killer, who's as formidable and fascinating as anyone he's ever encountered. The shades of light from his suburban family life and the shades of dark in terms of the person he's stalking get entangled. The two sides are as extreme as they have ever been.
Now that we've spent some time on the phone, I have something personal to tell you: I display a Dexter bobblehead in my kitchen. Did you ever dream of such a thing?
When we were shooting the pilot, I just hoped we would get to make a whole season's worth of episodes and that people would watch it. The idea of action figures and bobbleheads wasn't really on my radar.
Well, you're a brand now. Last Halloween I saw someone on the subway dressed up in Dexter's kill outfit.
I actually ran into a guy at the airport who said he had just bought the rights to manufacture that costume.
With Halloween coming up, do you have something you're dying to wear?
I've always fantasized about having a full, totally legit head-to-toe Stormtrooper costume. It would be heavy and hard to move, but it'd be worth it. I'm of the age that Star Wars was a part of my mythology as a kid, and I just always felt the Stormtrooper outfit was really cool. That, or maybe Boba Fett.
There's also a Dexter video game. Have you played it?
No. I had seen some early mock-ups, and it was impressive the way they re-created the sets.
Do you plan on playing it?
No, I don't really play video games. And I get to do the real thing. Or at least the simulation of the real thing.
Wait a minute. You're not actually killing people?
[Laughs] No. Unless it's the last take.
Season four of Dexter premieres Sun 27 at 9pm on Showtime.