We’ve always liked Australia (koala bears, Crocodile Dundee, the way they say, “Are you taking the piss out of me?”), and actress Yvonne Strahovski is one of our favorite recent imports from the land Down Under. Strahovksi, who first caught our attention stateside as the smart and sexy CIA Agent Sarah Walker on NBC’s late cult-hit Chuck, now embraces her mischievous side on Dexter (the season seven DVD is out now) as Dexter’s serial-killing love interest Hannah McKay. We recently gave her a call to talk about America, a successful stint on Broadway, and shooting a murder turned make-out scene with Michael C. Hall.
ESQUIRE.COM: So I watched all of season seven of Dexter over the past few days, and I don’t think you’re actually Australian. Your American accent is too good.
YVONNE STRAHOVSKI: Well that’s a good thing.
ESQ: When did you develop such an authentic-sounding accent?
YS: I’ve been working here now for six years, and as the years have gone by it’s become easier and easier. Also, growing up in Australia we’re pretty saturated with American television and film culture, so as a kid I was familiar with the accent. I think most Australians can do some kind of accent.
ESQ: What do you think about what we’ve got going on over here?
YS: It’s been very kind to me here. Professionally, I wasn’t here very long before I got my first series, and I’ve been lucky enough to keep working throughout the six years consecutively in television and film. Working on Dexter is very much one of the highlights thus far.
ESQ: I’m really fascinated by your character on Dexter, Hannah, because she’s kind of good, but mostly bad. Do you think she’s more of a hero or more of a villain?
YS: Subjectively, as the actress playing her, yes, she’s done some terrible things in the past, but I think she believes that everything that she’s done has been justified. She’s trying to move on and make a life for herself. She’s had people get in her way, and although she wants to keep going and have an innocent life, it really just hasn’t worked out for her. And objectively she is sort of a manipulative girl, but it’s that fine line where you can see through that manipulation as an audience member and hopefully also kind of like her at the same time.
ESQ: You and Michael seem to have great chemistry, especially in the really steamy moments, like the first time you guys get together, and he’s about to kill you but then you have sex — that’s really intense on a lot of different levels. What was shooting that scene like?
YS: It was a mixture of vulnerability, being on that table naked about to be killed, but then it turns into this intimate thing. It was my first time shooting an intimate scene so I was especially nervous on the day, but Michael being the pro that he is and coming off a show like Six Feet Under — he had to do a lot of those scenes. It was kind of like riding a bike for him.
ESQ: You were recently in a play, Golden Boy, which seemed like it was a huge success. Did you enjoy working on Broadway?
YS: I did. I found it immensely challenging. I didn’t really have a lot of time to think about it too much because I had wrapped season seven of Dexter on October, and then I moved to New York for four months the next day and at 10:30 in the morning I started rehearsal. Then we had this four-week intense period of rehearsals, which was completely different for me. I grew up doing theater in Australia and I have a theater company there so I know what theater is and how it functions, but I haven’t done any plays in the last seven years. It was very much a shock to the system. It was a hard, challenging role with a lot of layers, but we were led by an extraordinary director, Bartlett Sher, who just turned the production into a piece of gold.
ESQ: Besides Dexter, what’s on the horizon for you? Are you looking to do more Broadway?
YS: Eventually maybe more Broadway. That would be pretty awesome. I’ve got a movie being released January next year called I, Frankenstein with Aaron Eckhart and Bill Nighy. That’s something exciting that’s coming up. But right now I’m pretty knee deep in Dexter.