‘Dexter’: Here’s What Convinced Michael C. Hall to ‘Be Surrounded by Dead Bodies’ for Another Show

TV shows and films may be the stuff of fiction, but that doesn’t mean that the setting and plot doesn’t have a real impact on the actors who bring the characters to life.

Plenty of stars have opened up about the mental and emotional toll that stepping into particular roles had on them. Shelly Duvall’s time on The Shining had a devastating impact. Janet Leigh refused to shower at home after starring in Psycho. Then there’s the fact that a role may well follow an actor off the set and into their real life when fans start to associate them with their fictional portrayal

All that to say that stars have to be careful about what roles they take on. When Michael C. Hall was offered the chance at Dexter, he wasn’t sure he wanted to jump into another television show where he’d be “surrounded by dead bodies.” 

Michael C. Hall rose to fame on ‘Six Feet Under’

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Michael C. Hall was born in 1971 and attended NYU’s Master of Fine Arts acting program. While the star has considerable theater experience, his filmography shows an on-screen debut of a 1999 guest spot on As the World Turns. It didn’t take long at all for him to leap from this minor role to a much more substantial part. 

In 2001, Hall took on the role of David Fisher in the hit series Six Feet UnderThe series revolves around a family who owns and runs a funeral parlor in Los Angeles. When the patriarch of the family dies unexpectedly, his two sons — David and Nate — are left with a funeral business to run and grief to navigate. The show skirts the line between drama and comedy in a way that was endearing to fans, and it ran for five seasons before concluding in 2005. It’s still among one of HBO’s most binge-worthy series more than a decade after its conclusion. 

‘Dexter’ put Michael C. Hall in a dark role

Actor Michael C. Hall
Actor Michael C. Hall | Matthew Eisman/Getty Images

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As soon as he finished up with Six Feet Under, Hall found himself stepping into another dark television series that walked the line between drama and comedy. This time, he was on Showtime’s Dexter, a series that rocked the boat with its dark subject matter. 

In the series, Hall played the title character, a blood spatter analyst who helps solve grisly crimes. What his co-workers don’t know is that by night he is a serial killer with a moral compass — he only murders other murderers. Ethical dilemmas abound, but the audience hardly has the time to examine them as the action-packed series takes Dexter through increasingly complex and twisted scenarios. All the while, his social life gets more complex as some of the people closest to him find out who he really is. 

Though the series received lackluster reviews for its later seasons, it had a solid run that many still consider some of the best TV has to offer. 

Michael C. Hall wasn’t sure he wanted the ‘Dexter’ role

When Michael C. Hall was approached about taking on the starring role in Dexter, he was hesitant. TV has a grueling filming schedule, and there was no way to predict just how long the show would go on. As Mental Floss reports, Hall wasn’t necessarily sold on doing another television show right away at all, and the subject matter also gave him pause. 

“Do I want to be surrounded by dead bodies for another indeterminate number of years?” the star asked himself. 

Ultimately, it was the character’s complex motives and backstory that convinced Hall to take on the part. The character “operated in a morally gray area” that really intrigued Hall.