Michael C. Hall | Interview
Michael C. Hall sings fight songs and lullabies but not (yet) a Dexter musical.
As both a closeted funeral director (Six Feet Under) and a murderous blood analyst (Dexter), Michael C. Hall has mesmerized. And he’s acted around a lot of fake corpses. That might explain why the Raleigh, North Carolina, native has appeared in only two films in his off-time: “Sometimes I just want to catch my breath,” he says. Premiering Sunday 27, season four of his Showtime smash, Dexter, grabs you by the throat from the first frame. There are car crashes, mistrials, babies and a whole lot of naked John Lithgow. Hall took a break from filming episode ten for a chat.
Time Out Chicago: One thing really jumps off the screen in the season premiere: John Lithgow’s ass.
Yeah, it’s pretty nice, right?
TOC: It is unexpectedly well toned. Was this a factor in the casting?
MCH: It wasn’t written for him. They had a fantasy prototype in mind. I think they had someone up until the last minute and it fell apart. And thankfully, whatever happened happened, because I can’t imagine anyone but John doing it.
TOC: It’s great to see him play sinister…. I’m hearing a lot of seagulls.
MCH: Yeah, I don’t know why they’re here. I’m in Hollywood.
TOC: Wow, so you don’t shoot in Miami. You fooled me.
MCH: We go down to Long Beach and San Pedro, places on the water without hills in the background.
TOC: You went to college not too far from here at Earlham College. Still have that Hustlin’ Quakers pride?
MCH: Oh, yeah. The fight song went, “Fight, fight, Inner Light. / Kill, Quakers, kill. / Beat ’em, maim ’em, knock ’em senseless. / Do we have consensus?”
TOC: That’s the best college cheer I’ve ever heard. What drew a Southern boy to rural Indiana?
MCH: I just wanted to get away. I knew a kid from my high school who had gone to Earlham, and he was outside of the box in a pretty homogenous environment. That compelled me to check it out. Growing up in North Carolina, Richmond, Indiana, believe it or not, seemed a pretty exotic place.
TOC: You don’t have a Southern accent at all. As the bad guy in Gamer, you have a really pronounced one.
MCH: The script had it. I said to them, “Well, why?” And they said, “Well, why not?”
TOC: Did you draw your drawl from experience?
MCH: It was a hybrid of my uncle, my grandfather, James Carville and 18 percent hillbilly.
TOC: How’d you erase your own accent?
MCH: I went to graduate school for acting in Canada and had to learn the American International Phonetic Alphabet. I never tried to buckle down and lose my accent. It comes back when I talk to older relatives. Or when I’m really tired or drunk.
TOC: Can you persuade my girlfriend to go see Gamer with me?
MCH: You should probably go by yourself.
TOC: I was hoping you’d talk her into it.
MCH: I don’t know that it’s a film for the modern woman. But if she hangs around, there’s a musical number in the end, where I incongruously lip-synch a Sammy Davis Jr. song.
TOC: You have a Broadway background. When’s the Dexter musical episode?
MCH: Ha. I can’t envision it. But maybe if we do the show long enough. I do sing “America the Beautiful” as a lullaby.
TOC: Speaking of which, Dexter handles fatherhood rather tragically.
MCH: He was compelled by the idea of it, to a degree as an act of rebellion. But the reality of being a father is a complete logistical nightmare.
TOC: You’re married to your costar, Jennifer Carpenter. Has the new plotline scared you off parenting?
MCH: Not really. Acting is a less conventional way of living your life, but it’s less formidable than being committed to serial murders.
TOC: Both Dexter and Mad Men center on lying husbands who lead double lives. Why do you think this theme is clicking with audiences?
MCH: There’s something inherently compelling about being in on a secret that no one else on the show knows about. In the case of Dexter, the audience relishes the invitation to relate to someone who on paper is doing reprehensible things.
TOC: You must have creepy fans.
MCH: Sadly, no. People are remarkably levelheaded and sane.
Dexter season four premieres Sunday 27 at 8pm on Showtime.