‘Dexter’ star finds Twitchell case ‘horrifying’

MELBOURNE — It is quite refreshing to see actor Michael C. Hall suddenly open up for the first time about the Mark Twitchell “Dexter Killer” case.

For years, US and Canadian media outlets (myself included as the journalist and author researching this case for The Devil’s Cinema) have tried to get more official comment from those involved in the Dexter series.

Requests went unanswered. And in at least one instance, an ABC 20/20 interview was reported to be granted and then cancelled at the last minute.

But now Michael C. Hall, the actor who portrays the fictional serial killer Dexter Morgan, has told CBC Radio’s Jian Ghomeshi about what it’s like having a killer inspired by Dexter as part of the show’s continuing impact on pop culture:

“All I can say to that is, it’s horrifying to entertain the notion that something you did inspired that. I immediately found myself saying, ‘Well, you know, he would have found something else to inspire him,’ but I don’t know.

“To be perfectly honest, it’s a troubling thing to consider.”

He said the case won’t make him think about quitting the show, and he hoped people saw the series as being more good than bad:

“I don’t think it is a primer on serial killing or it advocates the lifestyle.

“I would hope that people’s appreciation was more than some sort of fetishization with the kill scenes. …

“I wouldn’t stop making ‘Dexter’ because someone was fascinated by it only in that way. I try to tell myself that their fixated nature would have done it one way or the other.

“But it seems that ‘Dexter’ had something to do with it. It’s horrifying.”

Hall’s responses have also been picked up by major media outlets.

Personally, I can only imagine how distressing it must have been to work for years on creating or portraying a complicated character only to have Twitchell transform it into something so sinister, forcing your work to forever be associated with a murder.

I’ve said many times that you can’t blame the show for what has happened, although there is no disputing that Dexter played a pivotal role in everything that did.

Beyond the court evidence of the “kill room,” and Twitchell assuming Dexter’s identity online, there is extensive documentation in the book on Twitchell’s transformation from filmmaker to wannabe serial killer, taking ideas from both Dexter plot points and other fictional creations like Batman’s Joker, Judge Dredd, and Friday the 13th.

I have also been asked in interviews if I think Twitchell would have still become a killer if he had never watched Dexter.

In some ways, there is evidence to suggest he would have just found something else to inspire him. But the truth is, we’ll never know.

I guess this is the difficulty in thinking about this bizarre and disturbing case: there are no easy answers.

At least Hall’s first comments were honest and raw, not some attempt at spin.

He should be praised for that approach.

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