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'Dexter' Star Jennifer Carpenter Discusses Her Most "Frustrating" Season of the Hit Series and Branching Out for Indie 'Ex-Girlfriends'

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire November 26, 2012 at 12:36PM

After shooting seven grueling seasons on "Dexter," Jennifer Carpenter makes her first foray into romantic comedy territory with the New York-set indie "Ex-Girlfriends," from first-time writer-director Alexander Poe. Carpenter couldn't be happier. She is, in fact, so enamored with the project, and at the chance to tackle a role in a genre she's not accustomed to finding herself in, that she came on board to serve as an executive producer for the film -- her first time ever doing so.
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"Dexter"
Showtime "Dexter"

Going back to Kate, the character you play in "Ex-Girlfriends" -- was it a struggle to relate to her at this point in your own life? You've already gone through a marriage, whereas Kate just seems to be finding her feet in the dating pool.

Part of what I love about "Ex-Girlfriends," I think Alex is trying to put a spotlight on a hurdle that anyone on the quest for love has to encounter. I think we can look at this and laugh and go, "You've got a long way to go, my friend." But it's important that you understand this experience for what it is.

I feel she’s a little swifter in her discovery as far as recognizing situations for what they are, not letting them scar her and moving forward. That’s something that I aligned with, and I hope to know better. Five days before I started production, I felt the part was opening up to me.

Moving onto "Dexter"; Deb was dealt with quite the blow at the end of season six when she learned of Dexter's extracurricular activities. From an actor’s perspective, what’s it been like playing with the realization that your brother is a mass murderer?

It’s been the most complicated, challenging, frustrating, emotionally expensive season of the entire series. After we shoot an episode I don’t remember anything. I think we were very careful. I guess I was very careful about not making heady proclamations or declarations about now Deb did this one thing where she agrees or she aligns herself with Dexter, or now Deb does not agree with anything he's done. It’s about excavating ideas and information -- and processing.

READ MORE: How Much Change Will 'Dexter' Be Willing to Try For In Its Penultimate Season?

That’s part of the reason I begged for a scene in the elevator where I cuss like a maniac. I felt like the audience needed a moment of privacy with Deb to see that she's not a machine, that she struggles. I guess that explosion in the elevator is kind of what I felt like as an actor -- I'm on the verge all the time. Which is why projects like "Ex-Girlfriends" feel like a vacation, really. It doesn't get any harder than "Dexter."

"Projects like 'Ex-Girlfriends' feel like a vacation, really. It doesn't get any harder than 'Dexter.'"

Where do you see the chracter going in the eight and final season?

Here's what I know, and I don't think it's up for debate. I know that she's living her life as her own. She's no longer living her life for Dexter, because she was in love with an idea of who he was. Her life is her own. So now, if she's ever going to have success, in her career or in her personal life, it will come now. If she's going to have failure, it will be at her own hands.

In a weird way, it's the most dangerous place she can be. But it's also the most authentic place for her to be in. From now on it's about "what do I want my life to be," not "where has my life been."

Listening to you right now, it's clear you're extremely attached to Deb. Is she going to be hard to shake off once the series ends?

It depends on how the writers choose to close it down. I think if they don't write her a happy ending I'm going to grieve for her. I've been living this life beside my own for seven years -- what will be eight, technically nine because we took a year during the pilot and the first season. Like you said, I have a lot of cords plugged into this person. She matters to me. I don't have split personality disorder, but I do go deep for her. I want to honor the people that have supporter her, our fans. I want everyone to leave happy, or be satisfied.

This article is related to: Jennifer Carpenter, Dexter, Ex-Girlfriends, Interviews, Television, TV Interviews, Showtime





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