The Showtime series Dexter was always a difficult show to do interviews for because secrecy was key and the cast and creative team did their best to keep things under wraps. Now that the series is done, The Complete Series Collection is available in an ultra cool Blu-ray set that includes all eight seasons, an exclusive art book and a bonus disc with three hours of special features (made up of behind-the-scenes cast interviews, featurettes and promos, the all-new The Evolution of Dexter Morgan documentary and the all-new The Code documentary), in a collectible slide box inspired by the one Dexter himself uses on the show to catalog his kills.
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, actress Yvonne Strahovski opened up about her time on the show and what it was like to play Hannah McKay on the final two seasons. She talked about how much she was told about her character’s journey ahead of time, her reaction to her character’s fate, what she thinks might have happened to Hannah next, what stands out most about the time she spent on the show, what her last scene with Michael C. Hall was like, how the support of the Chuck fans compared to the support of the Dexter fans, and where she’d like her career to go next. Check out what she had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
Collider: When I spoke to you before your run on Dexter started, you couldn’t really say anything about anything. Did you really know that little, at the time, or did you just pretend really well?
YVONNE STRAHOVSKI: We knew certain things, but the ending was very much kept under lock and key.
When you were first cast on the show, what exactly were you told about Hannah? Did they give you hints about anything, going forward? Did you know you’d make it past that first season?
STRAHOVSKI: No. I had a phone conversation with Scott Buck, who explained to me what Hannah’s arc was going to be in Season 7. I loved what he was describing for the character and the journey, and how involved it was gonna be with Dexter. So, I just at the opportunity to play this role. I was surprised when I got to the end of Season 7, and I read that scene where she leaves the black orchid at his doorstep, I thought, “Wow, this is a pretty open ending. This might mean that they want me back.” And sure enough, Season 8 happened and I thought, “Well, I probably will end up dying in this season, seeing as I didn’t die in Season 7, and traditionally, most of the guest stars on that show usually die.” I was definitely surprised to have survived, and to have played such a pivotal role in the actual ending, where it all ended up, to the very last second. It was quite a journey and quite an experience.
What was your reaction to where she ultimately ended up?
STRAHOVSKI: I didn’t see that that would be Hannah’s fate. I knew they weren’t going to end up happily ever after in Argentina because Dexter was not that type of show. But, it was sad. It was a sad ending. Watching it was very upsetting, as an audience member. You watch it and it’s uncomfortable because it is so sad. There is no happy ending in any of it. I walked away feeling very depressed, and it really stayed with me. That feeling lingered for awhile after I watched it.
Are you surprised at how critical some fans were of the final season, and especially the finale, or did you come to expect that, knowing how passionate the fans of this show were and how it’s impossible to please everybody?
STRAHOVSKI: To be honest, I haven’t read too much about all the debates. I just heard that it was a bit of a debate. Amongst my friends who watched it, some were satisfied and some were dissatisfied. I do think that, for any show, it’s an impossible task to please everybody with the ending. I’d certainly had experience, coming off of another show where it was tied up to some people’s satisfaction and to some people’s dissatisfaction. It’s always going to cause some type of debate. And Dexter is a particularly difficult show because he’s a killer and he’s spent all these seasons getting away with it. There were some really obvious endings that they could have done, that they chose not to go with, and maybe some people expected that. I’m not sure. There are a thousand endings that could have happened, and everyone has a favorite ending for what they wanted to happen.
Have you thought about what might have happened to Hannah next? Do you think she’d be a good mother to Harrison?
STRAHOVSKI: I have thought about it. As wacky as it sounds, because most people think Hannah is just a crazy person, I do think she is capable of being a good mother. She obviously has a terrible past and she’s done terrible things, but when I talk about it from the point of view of being the girl who played her, I was always justifying why she was doing the things she was doing. In my mind, she was set up, at a very young age. She did some bad things, not entirely because it was her fault. I think she just got caught up in this romantic getaway with this guy, so she was set up for life, to be constantly running away from her dark past. I think that’s what she’s been trying to do, the entire time. Anyone who got in the way of her trying to move on and have a happy life, she would eliminate because that was the only way she knew how and because the stakes were so high. If she didn’t eliminate them, she would end up being eliminated, and she’s a survivor. She wanted to keep surviving because she was desperately looking for that happy life. Because of that need and that want, she can move forward and be a good mom to Harrison, provided that nobody comes along, again, to try to stop her or try to put her in prison. That’s my take on it.
Would you have wanted Hannah and Dexter to end up together, or do you think she’s truly better off without him?
STRAHOVSKI: I think that it would inevitably be a very volatile and tumultuous relationship. At the end of the day, they’re only human. We all have trust issues, and Dexter and Hannah certainly have the epitome of trust issues, considering that Hannah tried to kill Dexter’s sister, and then Dexter turned Hannah in and put her in prison. That’s a lot to work through. If we were to see Hannah and Dexter keep going in a relationship, I think there would be a lot of therapy involved. They’d have to work all that out because how could they not? You can’t just ignore that.
When you think back to your time on the show, what stands out the most for you?
STRAHOVSKI: Every day was amazing! Working especially with Michael [C. Hall], for the most part, was just fantastic. He’s a real actor who’s dedicated to the job and wants to make every scene the best it can possibly be. And Jen [Carpenter], as well. Working with everybody was just such a highlight for me. And the material that I got to work with was amazing. I think back to some of those scenes in Season 7, and the prison scene between Deb and Hannah, where she comes to visit Hannah, was so great. There were so many different things going on in those scenes. I just feel so lucky to have gotten to work with such great material, and be able to do things in my career that I had never done before, up until that point, and flesh out this character that was so complicated, layered, manipulative and all kinds of things.
What was the last day on set like for you, and what was the last scene that you shot?
STRAHOVSKI: I remember the last scene that I shot with Michael was the one where we were in the hotel room and Harrison was on the floor. I think I was talking about taking the bus instead of a plane. It was at that point, where we had to think of something else. I remember that it was emotional to shoot that last scene. We both kept mucking up the lines. It was one of those things where we were both thinking about, “Oh, my god, this is the last scene that we’re gonna do together.” It was hard to just focus on the scene and get through it. I remember it was funny and emotional, at the same time, because we kept mucking up the lines.
Having had the experience with both Dexter fans and Chuck fans, how did they compare? Did it feel different, in how they expressed their fandom, or was the level of passion pretty even?
STRAHOVSKI: Everyone has been very supportive, as far as I’ve experienced. I feel so lucky, especially with the Chuck fans because that was a very unique situation. I feel like I speak for most of our cast and crew when I say that we feel pretty affiliated with our fans because of what they did for us, in saving our show and keeping it running and rooting for us until we ended up with five years of the show. I feel like that support has carried through, for us as actors, into anything that we journey into. I feel like I had the support of the Chuck fans through Dexter. And the Dexter fans embraced Hannah, as well. It’s been really, really great. Going to Comic-Con this year was really special, as well. At Comic-Con, we really get to see the fan support and the energy. When you’re in Hall H with however many thousands of people, it’s pretty special.
The next thing that your fans will see you in is I, Frankenstein. Were you intentionally looking for the most different type of project possible?
STRAHOVSKI: I like to keep it different. I don’t want to do the same things, over and over again. That’s definitely part of the plan. That’s going to be a whole new and different thing. I’m actually excited to see it on the 3D screen because I haven’t seen it in 3D yet.
Having had lightning strike twice, with both Dexter and Chuck being successful and getting such great fan support, are you looking to do another TV show, or would you like to focus more on movies for a bit?
STRAHOVSKI: I’ve been lucky enough to get a taste of the feature film world, the TV world and Broadway, as well, and see what everything is like. For me, it’s very much about the character and how different it is from something I’ve done earlier. I’m always looking to change it up. Depending on that, it doesn’t really matter so much whether it’s within theater, film or television. It’s more about trying to find the character that’s going to be something new and different and interesting, and something that I can sink my teeth into.