Fans of Dexter who have also read the novels on which the series is based, Darkly Dreaming Dexter and Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay, know a couple of things about Sergeant Doakes that casual viewers do not. First, “Sergeant” is a nickname, acknowledging his days in Army Special Ops. Second, his first name is Albert — a good reason for a man who is hardly a “call me Al” sort of guy to go with the nickname.
I asked Erik King, who plays Doakes, about his character and the remarkable success of this show.
Last year, when I saw the “Dexter” screener, I knew I was seeing a series that was remarkably original. I have my own theories about its broad appeal but I’ll ask you — did you expect the show to have such incredible success?
I did not, and I think that as we go into the second season, we’ll begin to see even more that the momentum will build. I thought it was a wonderful concept; I just didn’t know how we would be able to maintain it. I think the writers have been incredible at making Dexter such a sympathetic character that people relate to him and connect with him. And now you have a sense of what his background is as the result of the first season. And while he appears like a monster on the surface in a lot of other ways, he’s a damaged soul like the rest of us are.
And he sure has a convenient way of dealing with it.
(Laughs) Not so convenient for his victims, though.
This looks like the season of Sgt. Doakes. Would it be fair to say that he is going to have quite a few highs and lows this year?
Absolutely. What I love about playing Sgt. Doakes — and it’s fairly basic in his character, especially with his military background — is things have to fit. But pieces of the puzzle don’t come together when it comes to Dexter, for some strange reason. [Doakes is] like a dog that won’t let go until he sorts it out.
We know Batista, we know Masuka (at least as much as most people would want to) and Rita and Laguerta, but other than his shooting of a Haitian last year, Doakes has been a closed book. Will it open more this season?
Absolutely. He has that special ops background.
Early in the second novel in the “Dexter” series, Dexter makes the comment that he believes Doakes has his own “dark passenger” and that there are likely some secrets in Sergeant’s closet. I’m not looking for any spoilers, because I love the suspense of this show, but could you imagine Doakes finding out the truth and saying, in essence, “You go, Dex!”
I can envision. I can envision that Doakes would find out the truth, and whether it’s, “You go, Dex!” remains to be seen.
I know the production has moved the set shots to Los Angeles, but is any of it still filmed in Miami? How has the climate on the set changed as a result of the move?
Actually, we did not spend a lot of time in Miami the first season. We did the pilot there, but most of the season last year was shot in Los Angeles as well.
What has been the creepiest moment for you on Dexter?
One thing, toward [last season's] finale, was seeing the kids in the blood. It was very uncomfortable to watch, even when you know it’s not real and you know these kids are actors. You don’t even see that much in horror films — little children that small surrounded in blood.
How long do you envision the show going?
As long as the audience loves [Dexter]. The oddest thing for me, and it comes to me often, is that Doakes ends up being the bad guy on the show, which I think is very interesting, because he is on the right side of the law. And I think that’s a testament to the writers and how sympathetic they’ve made Dexter. We understand how his background changed him and we start sort of rooting for him because he is going after the bad guys. You don’t want Doakes to catch him. [Here, King pauses] But other fans stop me all the time and say, “I love how you go after that sicko.”
[The show has] been a fun ride, believe me. There are a lot of twists and turns. It’s difficult to maintain the momentum, but these writers have been incredible. With Doakes, I hope viewers will tune in to what’s driving him so he doesn’t just seem angry, because there is something he is after and he won’t stop until he gets it.
Doakes is so intense. Does he ever actually relax?
(Laughs) There’s a great line on one of the episodes where someone says, “Doakes just needs to get laid” — hello!
Season 2 of Dexter premieres Sept. 30 on Showtime.