Michael C. Hall is best known for his portrayal of the title role on the hit TV show Dexter. Hall has opened up recently about his battle with cancer, and how it helped him to better portray a character that is dealing with a life crisis and trying to find his identity.

In this article, we’ll look at how Michael C. Hall’s battle with cancer helped him bring Dexter to life and his emotional battle that acted as his rehabilitation before tackling his return to the show.

How Michael C. Hall’s Health Challenges Impacted His Performance on Dexter

When we think of Michael C. Hall, most people immediately think of his iconic performance as Dexter Morgan, the serial killer-cum-vigilante of Showtime’s hit show Dexter. Hall has spoken candidly about his cancer diagnosis in 2010 and his months of intense treatments, leaving him little energy and unsure of his return to the show.

Though Hall elected to remain blind to who, specifically, was the victim of Dexter’s murderous rampage in the end of series, he was quite conscious of the circumstances of his own battle with cancer. For every scene he did, he took advantage of this intimate knowledge base and inner turmoil.

His cancer diagnosis and the subsequent treatments informed him directly of his own mortality and made his character’s attempts to reconcile with his own identity— and suicidal urges—feel even more meaningful.

Hall and How He Used His Diagnosis for Working on the Show

Hall’s battle with cancer didn’t fully incapacitate him from working on the show, however. During the last season of Dexter, Hall continued to appear on sound stages, despite the fact that he was suffering from cancer and had to be vigilant about his health.

Hall used his diagnosis to inform his work and channel his pain directly into his character. He described it as a means of rehabilitating before tackling the developing of an already complex character such as Dexter. The show’s demanding moments were then filled with the aches, pains and hesitations that come with someone in the grips of a life-altering illness.

How Hall’s Experiences Enhanced the Show

Hall’s experience with cancer made him more sensitive to Dexter’s own journey throughout his story arc. Referring to his cancer as a “re-awakening” gave Hall a chance to immerse himself deeply into the world of the show, allowing him to go beyond his previous performances as Dexter and truly inhabit the character.

Cancer is a harrowing experience for anyone going through it, but Hall saw it as an opportunity to connect with what his character was going through in a tenuous, life-or-death situation. It gave the audience the ability to see Dexter’s struggle with a new level of empathy.

In the end, Hall’s battle with cancer gave him a new perspective on life, and took his performance on Dexter to a whole new level. It shaped and moulded Hall’s understanding of his character to create something we hadn’t seen before, adding layers and insight into why Dexter does the things he does.

How Hall Took Risks to Make Dexter an Interesting Character

In Hall’s depiction of the character, he took risks, taking on sometimes dark and often difficult subject matter to make sure that each episode was emotionally engaging. He had to search deep down and then layer his insights while taking on more of Dexter’s murderous instincts.

Hall spoke of how Dexter’s both internal and external struggles were something he could actually relate to after his own cancer experience and the mental and emotional battles it brought him. He was able to create a sense of redemption for the character and an understanding of how life affects us all in different ways when we confront the spectre of mortality.

Using his own experience with cancer as a learning tool, Hall was able to bring that raw pathos to the screen and create a character that has endured long past the show’s eight-season run.

Michael C. Hall has always been an extremely talented actor and an incredible talent for creating nuance and depth of character, but his battle with cancer allowed him to take his already captivating portrayal of Dexter Morgan to an entirely new level.

Hall’s own intimate experience with coming face-to-face with mortality informed his performance, allowing him to bring empathy and even a sense of redemption to the character in ways that wouldn’t have been possible without him undergoing his own personal struggle with cancer.

It was his feelings of his own mortality that allowed the audience to connect with Dexter Morgan on a deeper and more intimate level and truly appreciate Dexter’s journey. Michael C. Hall’s brave battle and willingness to take risks allowed us to empathize with a character who often strayed too close to the dark side.