“You do whatever the internal alchemy is, or take the imaginative leap you have to, so you can connect with what you’re doing.” – Michael C. Hall
Dexter and Six Feet Under star Michael C. Hall can take credit for starring on premium cable series before it became standard for acclaimed actors to do so. With that said, Hall certainly faced challenges in both roles. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Hall recalled what it meant to be playing a gay character on Six Feet Under and why it was easier to play the murder scenes in Dexter than the emotionally deeper scenes.
Reflecting on playing the homosexual character David Fisher on Six Feet Under, Hall says that he understands criticism when heterosexual actors play LGBT characters. He says:
“For me, I was playing this aspirationally iconic gay role as a straight man. I felt all the more charged to do it justice. I certainly understand anyone who takes issue with the phenomenon.
“Cate Blanchett recently said that any actor should be able to play anyone. But the fact is there are scores of heterosexual actors winning accolades and awards for playing gay and trans characters. Its undeniable that the public finds it more palatable to see a straight actor do their own sexual or gender stunt work—‘Oh look at him, pretending to want that man, it’s so convincing’—as opposed to looking at a gay or trans person being themselves. It’s acting no matter what. It’s a character.
“When I was in Six Feet Under I was aware that I was a heterosexual man playing a gay role that was unique in the TV landscape. I was also aware that given the way things are and maybe still are to a degree that not many gay actors were pursuing the role. It would expose them in a way. That irony wasn’t lost on me.”
In terms of Hall’s other famous role, playing the serial-killer title character on Dexter, Hall reveals that he found the scenes in which he did his goriest deeds were easier than playing the more layered character scenes. He explains, “I will say that it was on the days driving home from work after having shot a scene where I killed someone that I felt the greatest sense of relaxation, release, and just ease. The days where I was playing Dexter hiding from something were harder. I guess playing him was cathartic for me in a way. You do whatever the internal alchemy is, or take the imaginative leap you have to, so you can connect with what you’re doing. ”