Michael C. Hall isn't as creepy as he seems

Dexter Morgan feels no guilt when sneaking up behind his victims, stabbing them with a hypodermic needle, and using a power saw to take them apart, limb from bloody limb. So what is it about Dexter, Showtime's acclaimed series now premiering its third season, that makes the gruesome murderer so damn endearing?

For one thing, there's Michael C. Hall, whose grin, strong jaw, and easygoing demeanor--in all those scenes where he isn't dismembering someone--make it possible to see beyond the violence. Funny, we hadn't fully appreciated his good looks when he played type-A mortician David Fisher on HBO's Six Feet Under.

It's strange how the psychopathic murderer role raises fewer eyebrows than did the one on Six Feet Under, in which he played a repressed homosexual. "I do get a sense that many family members of mine are more comfortable watching me simulate murder than simulate a same-sex relationship with a black man," says Hall, a Raleigh, NC, native. "I got a lot more questions then about, 'Is it weird playing a gay character?' than I now get about, 'Is it weird playing a serial killer?'"

Not that spending so much time surrounded by corpses isn't creepy. Says Hall, "It's an occupational hazard that you take your work home with you"--exacerbated by the fact that he's currently dating Jennifer Carpenter, the actress who plays his foster sister on Dexter. "I totally have dreams that I might not have had otherwise. But I like the idea that on some unconscious level, there's an intersection between my dream life and the life simulated through work, you know? That's the fun of it." Sure, sounds killer.

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