On the Showtime drama Dexter, which began its second season tonight, Erik King is intimidating as Sergeant Doakes, the member of the Miami Police Department who most doggedly suspects coworker Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) of foul play. In real life, he couldn’t be more different. Erik King is a funny, charming guy who’s so effortlessly pleasant to speak with you almost forget how terrifying his character is.
BuddyTV spoke to Erik King in anticipation of the new season of Dexter. Though he was careful in not revealing too much about what’s to come, he certainly didn’t shy away from discussing some of the larger issues in store for both his character and Dexter this season. He also spoke about shooting in Los Angeles vs. Miami, the reaction he gets from fans, and Michael C. Hall’s Emmy snub. Below you will find the transcript as well as the mp3 audio file of the interview.
Hi, this is John from Buddy TV, and we’re talking to Erik King from the Showtime series Dexter. How you doing, Erik?
I’m doing great, John. Good to speak with you.
Good to speak with you. Now, your character Sergeant Doakes on the show, he’s always on edge. He always seems to be like, very gruff exterior, do you think this character has a softer side?
Oh, I think he certainly does have a softer side. I think in a lot of episodes last season, you got an opportunity to see him with his family. You see that he comes from a family that’s pretty dominated by women, so I’m sure he has a somewhat softer side than what we see.
And what made you originally interested in appearing in…because Dexter is about a serial killer. Why be on a show about such dark material?
I just thought the material was great material. After having been on Oz for a season, I guess a season and a half, playing Moses Deyell. I love cable television, what it’s able to bring people as an option, as a choice to network television, although there’s some great network programming as well. And I thought it was edgy, I thought it was different, and I absolutely love Sergeant Doakes, man.
Very interesting character. Now, were you familiar with the source material? Because it’s based on a series of novels.
No, I wasn’t so familiar with Jeff Lindsay’s work initially. Of course, once I had an opportunity to audition for the role, I read the first book. There have been two subsequent books to the first book, but I’ve only read the first book. We sort of departed from the first book in the series, so I was really focused on that, and sort of building who Sergeant Doakes was and what made him tick and what drives him.
Yeah. Now with season two coming up soon, what can you tell us that we can look forward to happening with your character?
(laughter) Well, you can look forward to Doakes not giving up on Dexter, that’s for sure. I think he hunts him down, they’re like dogs who sort of suss each other out. They get a great sense that there’s something that’s not quite right with each other. Of course, I’m getting closer to Dexter, and that unnerves him a bit. But it’s an opportunity just to watch these two characters do a dance together. They’re definitely gonna be married to each other in this next season. They’ll be hanging with each other quite a bit, much to Dexter’s chagrin, I’m sure.
And how long do you think that…because at a certain point it has to become a fact that either Doakes discovers Dexter’s secret, or he essentially has to die in order for Dexter to keep the secret. So how long do you think they can keep this chase up?
Well, that would be interesting to find out. I think you’ll have to tune in and see, but I think what will happen is, it comes down to this: Doakes needs to find out something about Dexter. Doakes will not give up until he figures something out. We don’t know what that something is that he will figure out, or maybe will not figure out. It’s a great question, but it’s a rollercoaster ride that we’ll all have to take together.
Now, I’m not sure how much you can tell us, there’s already some leaks.
I can tell you everything, John. What do you want to know?
What happens at the end of season two?
What happens at the end of season two? We set you up for season three, that’s what we do, that’s what happens.
Is there an official word on season three yet? Have you already been picked up?
No, there’s no official word. We’re actually still shooting season two, we’re doing episode number seven at this point out of 12. And it’s a ride, man, all of the characters sort of get ratcheted up just a little bit. You certainly get to see what drives the characters in a way that season one, you didn’t get to see that in season one that much. And I suspect in season three, if there is a season three, you’ll get to know more of the characters.
Now how would you compare the new, because there’s a new season-long arc, which I don’t know if you can tell people what it is. But it’s been leaked, and most people probably are familiar with it. How do you think this new season arc compares to last year’s Ice Truck Killer case?
And what season arc is that, John?
Well, something about a butcher in the bay.
(laughter) Well, let’s say all of the chickens come home to roost this season. I think season one was, again, based on just sort of Dexter’s character figuring out what was going on behind the scenes, with Dexter. I think season two, we’ve been including the Bay Harbor Butcher, which is what the arc is probably gonna be called at some point when we put the official name on. It will also be one of those things that sort of tracks Dexter in a different way, things come to the surface that were not there before.
Literally, in fact.
(laughter) What do you know? You know something.
I might perhaps know something. But now, one of the additions to the cast you get to work with is Keith Carradine as an FBI agent. What is it like working with him?
Well, Keith is amazing. We have Keith Carradine this season, we have JoBeth Williams this season, which is awesome. Playing Rita’s mother, which is amazing. I mean, to have an actress who’s been around that long. But Keith, we get to see him in every episode. And Keith is, he’s sharp, he’s honest, he’s professional. He brings that sort of an edge to the show that you need, that kind of a hierarchy if you will. Because certainly this is Miami’s police department, but Keith represents the Feds, So there’s a different pressure that comes to bear.
You mentioned Rita’s character, and I’m wondering, is it unusual for a cast… because you don’t get to interact that much with Rita, Julie Benz’s character. And certainly not at all, really, with James Remar, Dexter’s father.
How does that interact, like, if you go to a special function? And you’re like, “Oh, are you in this cast?” Because you’ve never actually worked with him.
Absolutely not. You know when we did the pilot, John, we were all in Miami. We did the pilot, and we do see each other on the set. So we’re not in scenes together, but our trailers are together, we hang out with each other. Last weekend as a matter of fact, we were celebrating the birthday of two of the cast members. So we all hang together, it’s truly a family. It’s a great opportunity to hang out with actors whose work you respect, but also people that you like.
Yeah. Now, season one, you mentioned filming in Miami. For season two, you’re filming in L.A.
And what are some of the differences? Because Miami adds such a rich texture to the show. How is the show going to be different now that you’re filming in L.A.?
Well, we’re very blessed to have great art direction, we’re blessed to have a great staff and great crew that can recreate Miami. But I love Miami, I’m an East Coast guy. I love Miami for the texture, just what you’re talking about. The problem was, of course, the hurricanes and all the other things we have to deal with down there. So it probably ends up being cheaper to shoot here because of unforeseen circumstances. But I miss Miami, that’s what I tell you. The humidity, there’s nothing like it. You can’t recreate that in L.A., it doesn’t exist. So as an actor having had the experience on the pilot, and having gone down to do some supplemental shooting, we bring that to the show. We bring it in terms of our sense memory and all the other things we do as actors.
Now you mentioned working on Oz earlier, and your fondness for cable shows like that. And also because David Zayas and Lauren Velez also starred on Oz.
Yes man, it was a homecoming, believe me.
And then I’m curious, because Michael C. Hall obviously, Six Feet Under. James Remar on Sex and the City, Keith Carradine on Deadwood. What is with all of these HBO actors moving to a Showtime series?
Well, it’s good programming. Showtime has great programming. I really believe that, I know that I speak for myself, but I think other actors feel this way as well. It’s not so much for us about in terms of what’s going on with the networks, it’s really about the material that comes on your desk. When you get a script, you get an opportunity to play a character that you love. It doesn’t matter where it is, if I’m on Lifetime, if I’m on ABC, it doesn’t matter, as long as I have something that I can sink my teeth into, and that’s what Sergeant Doakes is for me.
Are there any differences in working on a show for Showtime or HBO, is it essentially the same?
I can’t say that it’s essentially the same. I can speak for Showtime at this point, because this is where I am. We have network executives who come to the table readings, that is unheard of, I think. For me, that’s not been my experience, I’ve been on about five or six series. To have them so hands-on, to be a part of what feels like a family. I’m talking about the network, from Bob Greenblatt, it is amazing to have people show up for you, and they are the network. Physically show up for you, it’s quite amazing. It’s a great place to work, and it’s an exciting time to be at Showtime.
Are you a fan of television? Are you a fan of any other shows on right now?
I am fan of television, certainly, but I don’t get to watch a lot of television. We have obviously very long hours, so appointment TV isn’t something that’s very easy for me. But I tell you, John, being able to go to On Demand and watch, say Dexter or anything else, has been life-changing. Bcause I do get a chance to watch some of the things that I normally would not watch.
You’re much nicer, I was scared because…
Ha, I know. That happens to me so much, man. The fans are even reluctant to come and ask for a signature or an autograph because they look at me and think, “Oh God, is he gonna call me an MF?” They always go, “You’re such a nice guy.” So I appreciate that.
Yeah, well it’s very different speaking to you, as opposed to the character you play on Dexter.
Yeah, keep watching Sergeant Doakes. He’s pretty funny, I enjoy him.
I definitely will, huge fan, the first season was amazing. And honestly, I’m flabbergasted that Michael C. Hall is not nominated for an Emmy.
Oh God, I’m flabbergasted too. First of all, because of his body of work, but also because of what he’s doing on the show. The nuances on the show are amazing, and Michael really knows how to, you know, you hear his inner monologue, you certainly hear all of that, but he’s working every moment that he’s on the screen. He’s amazing, he’s amazing to watch as an actor. Right, I agree with you.
Before the nominations even came out, I was like, “Oh, Michael C. Hall, he’s gonna win the Emmy.”
Right, you would think, you know. And again, also based on his work, he’s sort of not gotten his due. It’s surprising that he didn’t at least get a nomination.
OK, well, thank you very much for talking to us, Erik.
John, it was a joy talking to you, man. Thank you for all the hard work you guys do, we appreciate you.
-Interview conducted by John Kubicek
(Image courtesy of Showtime)