Emmy Contender: Michael C. Hall

'Dexter'

The lead role on another TV series was the last thing Michael C. Hall thought he would sign up for after HBO’s “Six Feet Under” ended its run. But just a few months after wrapping a five-year stint as mortician David Fisher, Hall decided to take a stab at serial killer Dexter Morgan on Showtime’s “Dexter.”

“Looking back, I guess it was kind of nuts to go straight into something else after ‘Six Feet Under,’ but I recognized that ‘Dexter’ would give me a chance to do something really different in a significant way,” Hall says. “I couldn’t pass it up.”

It was a gamble leaping from one series to another with barely a break in between, especially since the accomplished stage actor had become so identified with the role of David on “Six Feet Under,” his first real exposure on television, for which he earned a lead-actor Emmy nomination in 2002.

Still, Hall was able to shed enough of his association with that groundbreaking show to make a distinct impression as the paradoxical Dexter.

The character is a rather complex one: A forensics expert by day who must fake having human emotion, he is a serial killer by night, feeding his compulsion to slaughter, but trying hard to do right by only slaying bad guys.

“I’ve done a bit of research (on serial killers), and I certainly haven’t come across a character who is quite in sync with what Dexter seems to be or is emerging to be,” Hall muses. “It’s a lot to wrap your imagination around as an actor.”

But critics and TV viewers certainly have accepted Hall’s alter ego despite his proclivity for gruesome behavior: “Dexter” is Showtime’s top-rated series. The thesp believes part of the draw is that Dexter forces people to grapple with their own moral ambiguities.

How will Dexter develop as the show begins its second season on Sept. 30?

“Dexter’s relationship to his … fundamental idea of himself as a killer will evolve, morph, get challenged in different ways,” Hall previews, adding, “I don’t think he’s going to be rehabilitated anytime soon, though.”

Favorite scene: “Probably the bloody face-plant in the 10th episode. No stuntman!”

Where you’d like to see your character go next season: “Toward an awareness of his humanity … i.e.: crazier.”

TV guilty pleasure: “Undisciplined surfing is my guilty TV pleasure.”

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