Oh yes. My first job on Broadway was "The Changing Room" in 1973 and it all took place in the locker room of a rugby team. And I had a long scene stark naked on stage. I won a Tony Award for that so I look for every opportunity to take my clothes off ever since. People don't always necessarily want me to, of course.
I ask again. Who among us doesn’t want to see Lithgow take his clothes off? Apparently, if you don’t, you won’t want to watch Dexter this season. Lithgow will be playing not the most evil character he’s ever played---that would be Lord Farquaad, wouldn’t it?---but pretty darn close, and apparently nakedidity is a part of this character’s evil---
How could John Lithgow get as far from "3rd Rock from the Sun" as possible? By playing Arthur Mitchell , a serial killer on Showtime's "Dexter" who has been murdering women for decades and whispering the same sweet nothings -- "It's already over" -- to each victim before she dies: Fans of Lithgow's work will see a lot of him in this role.
Read the whole interview.
By the way, I don’t agree with Lithgow that the trick of Dexter is getting the audience to have sympathy for the devil. Dexter is a monster, not a devil, and the show’s writers and directors and its brilliant star, Michael C. Hall, are actually pretty good at distancing us from Dexter when he is at his most devilish---when he has his victims wrapped and helpless and prepped for death; that is the point when we come close to having sympathy for the devil, the one on the table, not the one about to dispatch and dismember him. One of the show’s strengths is its willingness to let us see that what Dexter does is horrific and that there is a form of moral insanity in having the method of justice be murder and having the hero take pleasure in the method more than in the justice.
When you get down to it, Dexter does what the heroes of countless cop shows, movies, and novels have always done. He tracks down and brings to justice bad guys that the regular cops are too stupid, too corrupt, too weak, or too handicapped by the legal system to bring to justice, and just as in so many of those TV shows, movies, and books, the bad guy winds up dead, killed by the hero. If those heroes aren’t evil, then why is Dexter evil? Because he takes the trouble of disposing of the bodies instead of leaving the mess for the coroner to clean up the way those other guys do?
Or you can stand the question on its head. If Dexter’s evil, then why aren’t those other guys evil?
I suppose the question of self-defense enters into it. But aren’t those other heroes awfully clever about arranging things so that they have to defend themselves with deadly force?
Dexter isn’t evil, but he does do evil. He’s a monster, created by his father and trapped in the job his creator has designed and built him to do. It’s an old story. Harry’s forerunners in myth and fable were gods, then wizards, then mad scientists. Dexter’s poetic ancestors include the Minotaur, Caliban, and Frankenstein’s monster---also, but not as ironically as it might first appear, Superman. Superman is in his way a creation of his mad scientist father, Jor-el, who knew what he was doing when he pointed the rocket carrying the baby Kal-el at a planetary system with a yellow sun. Clark Kent is trapped in the job his father designed and built him for. Of course, except for the whole double-identity thing, the similarities pretty much end there. Smallville has added the notion that Clark, like Dexter, resents and resists the destiny his father’s chosen for him.
But since we know how Clark’s going to resolve that problem, his refusal to rush into the role of Superman is more often than not a source of amusement. We have no idea what Dexter will become if he gives up his role as Harry’s appointed dark angel of vengeance. The possibility is---something much worse.
In Season Two, Dexter began to try to rebel against his father and make his own way in life, but both Sergeant Doakes and Lila kept showing up to tell him that that wouldn’t be easy and in fact might be impossible. Doakes said that the only way Dexter could escape was by admitting what he was, a monster, and accepting punishment. Lila said that the only way he could escape was by admitting what he was and embracing it.
In Season Three, Dexter found to his dismay and horror that he could escape his father’s shadow by becoming his father and playing mad scientist to another monster.
In Season Four, it looks as though Dexter’s found another path to normalcy but is having the same problem most normal people have balancing work and family. As it has since the beginning, though, the central question of the show continues to be asked: Who are we, the monster we know we are inside or the person everybody else takes us to be?
The geniuses who schedule these things must know what they’re doing, but it doesn’t make sense to me that HBO has Bored to Death slotted to run against the last half hour of Dexter. Even with On-demand, TiVo, iTunes, DVRs, and endless re-runs, doesn’t winning the time slot matter? I can’t imagine someone thought, “Hey, we’ll pick up all those people who get bored with Dexter in the middle!” Maybe HBO’s and Showtime’s audiences don’t overlap. Maybe they’re targeting viewers like me who will be watching both shows tomorrow online, along with tonight’s episode of Mad Men. Speaking of which, Michael Berube gives the approved cultural studies reading of last week’s now infamous lawn mowing episode.
The New York Times interviewed Lithgow and Hall together. Lithgow makes an amusing but apt comparison between the serial killer he plays on Dexter and 3rd Rock From the Sun’s Dick Solomon:
“3rd Rock” was about an outsider, an alien in another person’s body, and nobody knew his secret, and it was the source of insane comedy. Well this is also about an outsider who is pretending to be a conventional person, and it’s the source of horror. I think both things have the same taproot. The tension is about how you present yourself and what you really are. It’s the difference between the super-ego and the id. Half the time you see the Trinity Killer, and he’s pure uncontrollable impulse — which is exactly like Dick Solomon on “3rd Rock.” I think I’m using the same tools in a sense. It’s delicious to me.