The Lowdown on: Michael C. Hall

July 15, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Serial killers, a gay mortician and the lowdown on one of the U.S’s top telly actors: Meet Michael C. Hall

You may have come across him in the breathtakingly good Six Feet Under, a series which arguably changed the face of US television drama. Set in a family run funeral home, its constant morbid intimacy made death both an unrelenting presence and flippantly mundane. The constant ethical and dramatic challenges that the characters faced made it evocative and at times darkly comic in such a way that had not been captured so well in a TV drama before. Playing the role of the closeted homosexual mortician was Michael C Hall. By the end of the show Hall had been multiply nominated for Emmy’s for his role. Not a bad start considering that prior to the show his start was as an off Broadway actor with no television experience.

“My father’s death was a real marker…?
Michael C Hall was born in 1971 in Raleight, North Carolina and trained as an actor at the NYU Master of Fine Arts. He was an only child as his sister died in infancy and his father died of cancer when he was 11, leaving his mother to bring him up alone. In an interview with The Advocate in 2004 he said: “At that age, 11, my father’s death was a real marker. Certainly, for a young boy, there’s no good age, but I think I was on the cusp of a time in my life where I was starting to reach puberty, to relate to my father—or as a result, I was becoming more like him. To have him… Something gets frozen. As you revisit it for the rest of your life, it’s sort of this slow but hopefully sure crawling-out of that frozen moment.?

Leading the dance in Cabaret
After leaving NYU he starred off broadway in plays like Macbeth and Cymbeline at the New York Shakespeare Festival, and in Timon of Athens and Henry V at the New York Public Theater. It was through the theatre that he met director Sam Mendes and when Mendes did his feted revival of the dark, erotically charged ‘Cabaret’ he cast Hall in the role of the emcee after Alan Cumming. It was this that eventually led to his audition for the role of David in Six Feet Under.

Hall puts on his dancing shoes as David in SixFeet Under

Getting cast in Six Feet Under
Mendes and Six Feet Under creator and showrunner Alan Ball worked together on the film American Beauty and when Ball was looking to cast David, Mendes suggested Hall. At this point in time it was actually actor Peter Krause, who ended up playing Nate Fisher, was originally cast to play David Fisher. The producers struggled to cast the role of Nate and eventually decided to cast Krause in the role and Hall as David. This reversal ended in an award winning acting partnership that was the cornerstone of the impressive ensemble cast.

In an interview Hall said that “Everything I opened up for Cabaret,” Hall says, “I slammed shut for David.” The wariness of the character, his meticulous nature and deeply closeted homosexuality made him engrossing to watch, played with a precision and dark self loathing by Hall.

He took a few feature film roles between- both a far cry from David, a messy action thriller in which he played a bit role ‘paycheck’ and TV movie Bereft. However it was his role as a serial killer with a heart of gold and murder that has brought him back to serious character acting for television.

A promo for season 2 turns fountains around the world blood red


Playing a Serial Killer
Based on the novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay, it was adapted for television by Emmy award winning screenwriter James Manos Jr. You probably haven’t heard of him but knowing that he is an Emmy award screenwriter whose previous work includes the Sopranos gives you a sense of the quality of the adaptation. The challenging character of Dexter, who both charmed and horrified audiences, was an absorbing character and in the deft hands of Manos, the pilot was brilliantly morbid and creepily addictive watching.

Michael C. Hall talks about playing Dexter

Julie Benz, who plays Dexter’s brittle, damaged girlfriend talked about working with him in an interview “When we did the pilot, I was very nervous… I was beginning to work with my favourite actor. I had to do a lot of relaxation to be on set with Michael… I was such a huge fan of his and just couldn’t believe I was cast to play opposite him. I was really waiting for someone to come up to me and say it’s all a joke,”

Another fan is author of the books Jeff Lindsay. When asked about how he feels about the show’s adaptation he replied: “Ninety-nine times out of a hundred television will take your book and throw away what’s good and turn it into what they want, which is crappy television. Not here. Michael C. Hall is absolutely bloody marvellous.” It is a testament to Hall’s skill as an actor that when Lindsay first heard of the casting he thought that he wasn’t right for the part at all, “but then the first time I saw him on the set I was blown away.?


Privately, Hall married actress Amy Spanger in 2002 but they divorced in 2006 and Hall is now rumoured to be dating his co-star Jennifer Carpenter, who plays his sister Debra Morgan on Dexter.

Watch the Season 2 promo

With Season 2 of Dexter just stared on FX last week, now is a great time to tune into this series and see what all the fuss is about. Catch season 2 episode 2 tonight, Tuesday, on FX at 10pm.

Jenni Michaels says:

Does anyone else get the feeling that TV lately is there to make us all feel better about ourselves, because of how superior we are to the people on that box?? Among the minefields of reality TV this show is entrancing, enthralling, intelligent and oh, so refreshing. It assumes you’re with it enough to get the joke and that’s flattering enough as it is to merit some time on the couch, glued to it wholeheartedly!