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Dexter’s Michael C. Hall on His Off-Season Indie, Real-Life Stalking, and Deb’s ‘Icky’ Unsisterly Feelings

Michael C. Hall. Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Michael C. Hall is in New York this month shooting Kill Your Darlings, the story of three Beat writers who got drawn into a murder trial when their mutual friend Lucien Carr stabbed David Kammerer. Hall, best known for playing a serial killer on Dexter, will be the one getting stabbed this time around; his co-stars include Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg, Ben Foster as William Burroughs, and Jack Huston as Jack Kerouac. But first up is this week’s The Trouble With Bliss, an adaptation of Douglas Light’s novel East Fifth Bliss. Hall takes the lead as Morris Bliss, an unemployed 35-year-old who lives with his father and meanders through life in the East Village. Vulture checked in with the actor to chat about stalking, underage sex, and Deb’s icky love for Dexter.

The Trouble With Bliss takes place in the East Village. Is that where you’ve been hanging out?
I’m living in Williamsburg now that I’m in New York again, so I’m finally doing the Brooklyn thing. And spending a lot of time downtown. I love just going to Tompkins Square Park and watching people. And I walked the Highline for the first time, which was pretty amazing.

When you landed the role of Dexter, didn’t you actually practice stalking people in the city?
[Laughs.] I pretended to stalk people. I wasn’t actively stalking people, but I did follow them. If there was somebody alone, I’d follow them around, just to see what it felt like — no syringe, though. Maybe go down on the subway and stay a car away. Try not to get noticed, just to see what it felt like.

Did you ever get caught?
No. I never got caught. I know! [Laughs.] The key was distance: Don’t get too close, and if you feel like you might be spotted, relocate, cross the street. It was pretty easy, especially if it’s the busy part of the day. I learned if you’re out and about, you’re probably being followed by someone — so don’t go down those deserted alleyways! It was kind of creepy. I creeped myself out.

So it must have been nice to shoot a comedy with no dead bodies for a change in Bliss.
I really enjoyed not encountering any dead bodies and not creating any dead bodies.

Brie Larson’s character in the movie says repeatedly that she’s 18, but if you do the math based on the information she gives Morris, she’s more likely to be 16.
That would suggest she’s potentially lying about her age. Maybe she’s a year older than that, but he doesn’t put it together — he’s sort of got a selective memory.

Which do you think is ickier: potentially underage sex with Brie Larson’s character, or a semi-incestuous relationship between Deb and Dexter?
I’m going to go with 50-50; the exact same amount of ickiness.

Deb’s therapist encouraged her to confront her feelings for her brother.
If I were a therapist, I’d say, “Don’t go there.” I’d encourage her to set some limits. But all bets are off now that Deb has witnessed Dexter [kill Travis]. I don’t know what would happen in that relationship, but I don’t think I’d encourage her to make any declarations of love.

What could Dexter even say to her at this point?
The first words out of his mouth were, “Oh, God.” Whatever he does or says, I think he’s going to try to take control, as difficult as that would be.

Morris is the anti-Dexter, then, because he allows events to just happen to him.
It was nice to play a character who was a little less motivated, who spends most of his time being a witness. The challenge was to sort of surrender to the moment and whatever your fellow actors are giving you, and invite in the chaos of the unknown. I mean, Morris is in every scene, and he’s often not talking, so it was exhilarating. And kind of scary, ultimately.

How much will we actually be seeing of you in Kill Your Darlings, given that your death launches the plot?
The movie is structured in a way that you first see that David Kammerer is dead, and then you go back and find out about the several months leading up to that, and the nature of his whole relationship with Lucien Carr.

Some have said the two were lovers. Others say that David was stalking Lucien. Lucien claimed David tried to rape him. What’s the film’s take?
I think there’s a lot of ambiguity about his character. David’s arguably been mischaracterized, depending on whose account you have. There’s not a lot that’s known about him, but you do get some great nuggets from Allen Ginsberg and Edie Parker.

There was some talk that you might return to Broadway in Big Fish.
That was premature. I did an extensive reading for it, and it was great, with great people, but it’s not going to be logistically possible.

So the next time we’ll hear you sing will be on the upcoming musical episode of Dexter?
Dexter: The Musical? I’d love to see that, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I’m going to say no. [Laughs so hard he chokes.]

Dexter’s Michael C. Hall on His Off-Season Indie, Real-Life Stalking, and Deb’s ‘Icky’ Unsisterly Feelings