The afterlife of a serial killer

Jun 08 2014, 11:07 IST
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SummarySix months ago, after eight years of playing a serial killer with a heart of gold, Michael C Hall stashed away his knives. What’s next?

It was a Tuesday morning at Los Angeles International Airport, and Michael C Hall was getting some odd looks.

They weren’t the “Oh my God, that’s a television star!” looks that his peers are used to, and that Hall earned with a five-year run starring in Six Feet Under (2001-2005). They were more like “Oh my God, that’s a serial killer!” looks.

Hall is used to that though, after eight seasons as vigilante serial killer Dexter Morgan on Dexter (2006-2013).

“Some people just slowly back away,” the actor says. “I’m always asked, half-jokingly, if I would mind pretending to strangle the other person for a photo op.”

Most of the time Hall passes on the simulated murder.

“I’m happy to take a photo, but I don’t like to pretend to kill someone,” he explains. “And only special people get faux strangulation.”

After 13 seasons of non-stop success on television, 43-year-old Hall is branching out onto the big screen. In Cold in July, releasing soon, he plays Richard Dane, a protective father who shoots an intruder in his home. The local police clear him of any wrongdoing, but soon, a murderous ex-con (Sam Shepard) appears looking for revenge. A private detective (Don Johnson) joins the fray, suspecting that the entire situation may be an elaborate set-up.

It was the script, adapted from a novel by Joe R Lansdale and co-written by director Jim Mickle and Nick Damici, that first caught Hall’s eye in the waning days of Dexter.

He was particularly interested in the flawed nature of his character, Richard Dane.

“With Dexter coming to a close,” he explains, “I was really interested in finding a part that had me playing someone who wasn’t super-capable. In this film, I play just a regular guy who has all these crazy things happening all around him.”

When Johnson and Shepard came aboard, the actor adds, he was thrilled. Shepard, who is considered one of America’s greatest 20th-century playwrights, enjoys a towering reputation within the acting community, far beyond his public renown as a movie star.

“I was able to incorporate any sense of awe or intimidation into the dynamics that existed in the plot,” he says with a laugh. “It turned out that Sam, Don and I had some really great times.”

He adds that there was no room for star temperament on the bare-bones set of Cold in July.

“It’s not that Sam and Don had tiny trailers,” Hall says. “There were no trailers. This

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