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Illustration: Dan Park

The Hot Seat: Jennifer Carpenter

Dexter's foul-mouthed cop confronts her biggest fear.


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Faith plays a major role in the new season. Deb's been through some really rough stuff in the past. How do you think she reconciles what's happened to her? Is it fate, karma or something else?
I feel like Debra longs to be connected to other people—maybe in a way that's not so far removed from how Dexter wants to connect to people. It's just not in his makeup, and maybe it's not in hers either. She has a rapport at work, but it's still a very lonely experience. I feel like if she can't connect with people in day-to-day life, she isn't ready to explore what it means to [plug into] something she can't see or feel or prove.

You're several episodes into shooting. What's it been like so far?
I don't know if anyone else in the world shares this feeling, but I have a very real fear of religious statues that are life-size or larger. We've been around a lot of churches and statues, and it takes me a good five to ten minutes to work my way into the room and get comfortable.

Is this a recent development?
I went to Rome with my family, and it was the most terrifying experience of my life. I think I really pick up on the fear they try to instill in people to behave. I wonder if there's a word for that phobia—and if I'm the only one who has it, do I get to name it?

You might! Speaking of higher powers, at the end of last season, Deb essentially let the vigilantes after the Barrel Girls killer go free. What's your take on that decision?
I think it was the most selfish and the most selfless thing she could do. Deb rarely has the opportunity to find closure on any of the things she's been up against, and this was something that was going to heal her and help her do better work.

So how's that choice going to affect her moral compass?
When we start the season a year [after the finale], she's done all of that work on her own. Now we can pick up and see what it's made of her. Being a lieutenant, you have to be diplomatic and sort of cut corners. As painful as it might be for her, she has to make exceptions to do what's better for the greater good.

You guys have had some seriously badass villains in the past. Who would play your ideal nemesis?
I don't know if it's because of The Usual Suspects or what, but I feel like Kevin Spacey would be really good. Jeff Bridges would be amazing, too. Or Woody Allen maybe? [I'd give] anything to work with him.

I did some googling, and there are terms for fear of statues, fear of large objects and fear of religion, but not of large religious statues, so I think you're still good for coining the phobia.
Maybe this is the beginning of my healing! Thank you for diagnosing me.

Dexter's sixth season premieres Sun 2.

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