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September 20th, 2013
06:37 PM ET

Web exclusive: Interview with 'Dexter' actor Michael C. Hall, executive producer Sara Colleton, and writer Scott Buck

The following is a transcript of an interview, including un-aired portions, with actor Michael C. Hall, executive producer Sara Colleton, and writer Scott Buck of Showtime's Dexter.'

JAKE TAPPER, HOST: Scott, what's the show about to you? What – what is – what is the theme of the show? Is it trying to fit in? Is it about death?

SCOTT BUCK, WRITER, "DEXTER": In – in a strange way, we always, in the writers' room, talked about it as a bit of 'Pinocchio,' someone who was a wooden boy and wanted to grow up and become real. So Dexter was someone who knew he was an outsider, knew he didn't fit in. And as much as he would say he didn't want to be like those people, I think we always sort of understood that that wasn't quite true, that there was some longing to be true, long – longing to be like other people.

And so that's why we sort of saw the gradual progression through the years as Dexter did gradually become more real.

TAPPER: And, Sara, you're the one who discovered the book, and – and helped turn it into – into the show.

What was it about the character of Dexter that made you convinced that people would want to watch him, even with all the gruesome things he does, season after season?

SARA COLLETON, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "DEXTER": Well, you see, to me, "Dexter" was never about the fact that he was a serial killer, or about the vigilante justice. To me, what I found fascinating was that it allowed us to process human emotions and human morality.

And by seeing, you know, Dexter experience these things, it was a – it's a catalyst for the audience to also look at their own human behavior. And that – that's what hooked me on the book.

TAPPER: And Michael, Dexter has obviously gone through a real evolution. There has been a real arc from season one, when he doesn't understand human contact all that much to now. And, obviously, I don't know how it ends, but he has a family and he's in love and – and he has a – a son.

How have – how have you been able to evolve as this character who does these horrifically gruesome things, while at the same time having a – a normal progression, that a character would have in a drama?

HALL: I think it's required a flexible imagination. I mean we certainly are at a point, at the end of the show, that is well beyond, or – or different than, the world that I encountered when the show started.

I think if there's any consistent impulse that's moved Dexter forward, for – for me, it's about an inherent rebelliousness, and a – a desire to do what he's been told he can't do.

His father conditioned him to believe that he needed to adhere to the code. And that's proved to work, to a degree, for Dexter.

But I think he was also told that he couldn't have real human relationships, that that wasn't there for him. And in spite of the fact that we initially hear him accepting that, there is, as Scott said, some underlying appetite for more legitimate and sophisticated human connection. And, he has a very human appetite for those things.

And, it's a really bad appetite, and indulging in that appetite that's moved him forward and gotten him, and other people in his world, into trouble.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: Michael, do you think that – and I don't want this to – I don't want this to come across in the wrong way, but do you think that there was something about the moment when Debra discovered who Dexter really was, that made it almost a guarantee that the show had to end within a – a few seasons of that, that that was, like Sam and Diane in "Cheers" or Bruce Willis and – and Cybill Shepherd on "Moonlighting," that that was almost the climax like that everybody had been waiting for. And after that, not that there's a letdown and that's where that – this metaphor falls short – but that almost like – it almost had to ease out of existence, the show, once that had happened, that that was just a built in climax.

HALL: I think so. I mean the – the show has spent all kinds of storytelling capital over the years. But once that happened, I think we knew that there was an end game, as far as the – the context in which all these characters are living, you know. It was understood going in to – to making that decision and – and – and telling that part of the story, that we were headed to some sort of conclusion once we did that.

But it was also invigorating for all of us, because it – it really recontextualized Dexter's relationship to Deb, certainly, and his relationship to the entire police department, and his relationship to his secrets and everything.

So it was a – it was both a – a signal that we were coming close to the end and also a reinvigorate – invigorating story point that really propelled us in that direction.

TAPPER: OK, now, Scott and Sara, I want you to be honest. How much fun was it coming up with grosser and grosser and more horrific serial killers and ways for people to be killed?

Was it – it must have been on a level, as creators and writers, you have to admit that you had some fun with it.

COLLETON: Well, I'll let Scott speak to most of those things.

TAPPER: Come on.

COLLETON: But...

TAPPER: It – I mean there's a – there's a fun for the viewer...

COLLETON: – but I will say one of...

TAPPER: – in watching it.

COLLETON: No, no, no. But one of the things I did love was finding an appropriate – I – I always loved when Dexter found an appropriate place that sort of thematically tied into the – to the reason why this person deserved to die, like the guy who had the alcohol problem, and who was – the hit-and-run driver, was killed in a liquor store, and things like that.

And – and the – the – the soliloquies that go on with Dexter in – in that moment, with a person right before they die are – are my favorite parts of the show, because he's his most true self, and – and the person who's about to die ends up being their most true self.

And so there's always a really fascinating conversation that goes on, in the room. So that – that's, interesting.

TAPPER: Scott?

BUCK: I – I think it was always the simpler ones that – that I appreciated. Dexter quickly reaching behind his back for a hammer that we didn't even know was there and ki – hitting someone over the head with a hammer, to me, was more impressive and more fun than – than perhaps something much more complicated, because I think for Dexter, it wasn't – it wasn't so much about the violence, it was about what it...

COLLETON: It was about the justice and...

BUCK: Yes.

COLLETON: – and – and the – them understanding why they needed to do what they do. And – and also, it was always to – what I loved about the, the process in the room was Dexter trying to figure out from that person why they did what they – why they did what they did, and did they understand the responsibility and the moral implication.

And it somehow was always something that he was trying to process and understand for himself. And occasionally, he would learn something in the kill room that he could take into his personal life.

TAPPER: Right.

COLLETON: Like remember when you killed the couple?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

COLLETON: The horrible people who were importing people, and then just leaving them in containers to die? And it was their shared dream. And you go, oh, is that what keeps couples together? And then you go home and have dinner with Rita and say, oh, because we have a shared dream. And she buys it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Twisted. I always – I always love those moments, as well, when we see Dexter incorporate something he learned at night into his daytime life, you know.

TAPPER: Sara, how much, what – what role does viewer feedback play in – in how the show developed over the years?

COLLETON: I – I mean this with no disrespect, because we have great – great respect for our fans. But I don't think a lot, because I think the minute you start trying to factor in what every person out there on the Internet thinks we should or should not do, you – you start to water down your own vision, your own viewpoint. And we've really, really tried to stay true to this character who had the paradox of thinking he's a monster, on one hand, and yet he yearns to be a human, and to see the journey that, you know, over eight seasons, he's taken and – and the cost that that journey has – has – the toll that it has taken on him.

And now that we're ending the – the very end of the serious, we're going to find out what the final price is. And we have to stay true to that.

TAPPER: Last question for Michael, does Dexter deserve to live and have happiness?

HALL: You tell me.

(LAUGHTER)

HALL: I don't know. I think...

(LAUGHTER)

COLLETON: That was a very clever question.

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