When it was announced that Michael C. Hall was replacing Andrew Rannells in Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway, it was a bit of a surprise. It wasn’t that people thought Hall couldn’t pull off the role of a transgender rock star — he was previously on Broadway as the Master of Ceremonies in Cabaret — but because he took the role so quickly after his last Broadway gig, starring in the play The Realistic Joneses, ended. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Hall spoke about why he took a double-shot of Broadway, how Dexter might have messed with his head, and why he likes being in an acting role that has a set end point.
Hall explain why he jumped from play to musical so quickly. He says, “I had told my representatives that I was interested in doing a play again and getting back onstage, but I was interested in doing a new play by a young, preferably even American playwright. The Realistic Joneses fit the bill. And then this emerged. I do think that, with Dexter ending and Six Feet Under, that’s 13 years of playing two characters with small breaks here and there. It really predominated my experience of being an actor, and both characters were fraught with a certain tension, sense of conflict, and interior turmoil. There was a desire to perform an exorcism.”
As for that exorcism, Hall claims that his time on Broadway has done the trick. He says, “It’s completely recalibrated my instrument, and has been therapeutic. I’ll probably descend into a deep, dark depression when it’s over, but it’s great for now.”
In fact, Hall admits that playing a psychopath like Dexter might have messed with his head because he had to regularly justify his character’s actions. He explains, “I think I’m only now processing that issue. You can do some sort of intellectual or emotional alchemy and substitute whatever Dexter is doing away with, with whatever you might deem worthy of doing away with… I think actors have a degree of preoccupation with their sense of what it is to be authentic—they’re dedicated to simulating authentic human behavior—and to play a character who himself is claiming to be without the capacity for that authenticity takes it to another level.”
He continues, “If you play a character, initially you’re called upon to investigate and bring to the table certain things that are initially useful, but if you do it for five seasons or eight seasons, it can feel like you’re beating a dead horse, tilling dead soil, or trying to reinforce things you’re trying to transcend in your own life. It’s an occupational hazard, I guess.”
Although he’s nervous about what will come after he finishes his run in Hedwig on January 18, he says that it’s nice to be in a project with a finish line as opposed to an open-ended television gig. He points out, “As most actors are, I’m convinced that everything is going to disappear and that I’m not going to be able to do this anymore, but it’s nice to commit to things that have an immediate end in sight. That’s a whole new world. I didn’t anticipate things would go this way.”