Michael C. Hall

Michael C. Hall Headshot

Actor

Birth Name: Michael Carlisle Hall

Birth Date: February 1, 1971

Age: 53 years old

Birth Place: Raleigh, North Carolina

Despite a résumé consisting of experience exclusive to the theater, Michael C. Hall quickly became a recognizable figure on the small screen, establishing himself in chameleon-like fashion in diverse and often contradictory roles that earned the young actor a strong and loyal following, particularly with his breakthrough performance as the uptight gay mortician David Fisher on "Six Feet Under" (HBO, 2001-05).

Prior to HBO's darkly comic take on dysfunctional families, Hall was a vaunted thespian best known for taking over Alan Cumming's role as the sexually insinuating emcee in a Broadway production of "Cabaret" - a stark contrast to his part on "Six Feet Under" and to the actor himself. Hall's penchant for playing conflicting characters enabled him to engage his imagination and breathe life into unique creations far different from most others seen on television, making him a much-sought after actor. This knack culminated with his portrayal of a serial killer of serial killers on "Dexter" (Showtime, 2006-13), a darkly comic twist on a classic genre that elevated Hall to a well known commodity.

Hall was born on Feb. 1, 1971 and raised in Raleigh, NC, as an only child. His dad, an employee of IBM, died from prostate cancer when Hall was only 11 years old; his mom, a guidance counselor, earned her doctorate in education after Hall's father passed. Early on in life, Hall discovered acting, cutting his teeth in "What Love Is" while in the second grade. When he was in fifth grade, he began singing in a boy's choir, then graduated to musicals in high school, performing in all the old standards - "The Sound of Music," "Oklahoma!" and "Fiddler on the Roof." He was also a member of a chamber choir that spent 10 weeks touring Austria.

After graduation, Hall attended Earlham College in Richmond, IN, a liberal arts school from which Hall assumed he would emerge as a lawyer. Instead, he began taking acting classes and thinking about performing as a viable, yet riskier, career.

He finished his studies at Earlham as one of only three theater majors, an unenviable position for someone looking to find acting work. Hall found some cache when he ventured to New York to attend grad school at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, earning a Master's of Fine Arts in 1996. Hall immediately scored an agent and began performing theater, landing understudy roles in "Henry V" and "Timon of Athens," before playing Malcolm in Alec Baldwin's production of "Macbeth" at the Public Theater - his first major role in New York City. From there, Hall gained wider exposure on the stage as Posthumous in "Cymbeline" and as the Apostle Peter in Terrence McNally's gay-themed take on The Gospels, "Corpus Christi." Across the continent, he appeared in David Hare's "Skylight" at the Mark Taper Forum.

But his big break - on the stage at least - came when he was in a workshop performance of Stephen Sondheim's musical "Wiseguys" (later renamed "Bounce" for its Broadway run), directed by Sam Mendes, who later directed Hall in "Cabaret."

The forces of Kismet were at work, because Mendes directed "American Beauty" (1999), which was written by Alan Ball, who later created "Six Feet Under," which in turn starred Hall in the role that kick-started his onscreen career. As David Fisher, a repressed gay man coming to terms with his sexuality while struggling to run the family's mortuary business after the sudden death of their patriarch (Richard Jenkins), Hall exuded considerable chops playing the deeply conflicted, anal retentive middle sibling whose struggle with his closeted sexuality eventually transforms into acceptance through his relationship with a gay police officer (Mathew St. Patrick). Hall's performance earned the actor an Emmy nomination in 2002 for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series, while sharing two Screen Actors Guild Awards and an AFI Award in the ensemble category.

During his run on "Six Feet Under," Hall found little time to do other acting, though he did occasional work on stage. In 2002, Hall was cast in a brief stint as Bill Flynn in a Broadway production of the always popular "Chicago" opposite wife, Amy Spanger. He had a thankless role as an FBI agent hunting a computer engineer (Ben Affleck) trying to recover his erased memory in John Woo's uninspired "Paycheck" (2003).

In 2005, Hall said goodbye to "Six Feet Under" when the show finished its fifth and final season. Though unsure of what his next step was, Hall was certain he did not want to jump right onto another television show - until he read the script for "Dexter" (Showtime, 2006-13), a darkly comic drama about a blood-splatter technician in the Miami Police Department who moonlights as a serial killer who hunts other killers who have managed to slip through the judicial cracks. The challenge of playing such a complex and seemingly unsympathetic character piqued Hall's interest right away, particularly Dexter's inability to express authentic human emotions, giving him the opportunity to portray one of the most controversial and talked-about television characters in recent memory. For his exquisite performance, Hall earned Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 2008 and 2009, as well as Golden Globe nods for best actor three years running.

Returning to features, Hall had a co-starring turn in "Gamer" (2009), in which he played a reclusive billionaire who invents a violent video game that uses real humans (Gerard Butler) as game characters. Meanwhile, Hall delivered another exquisite performance as Dexter Morgan for the show's fourth season, which earned the actor both a Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe win. At the same time he was supposed to be basking in the numerous award recognition, Hall publicly announced only days before the Golden Globes ceremony that he was suffering from Hodgkin's lymphoma, but that the disease had been caught at an early stage and he was reportedly in complete remission, though continuing treatment in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, he was set up for another Golden Globe win after being nominated in the same category in December 2010 - the same month that news broke of his wife and co-star Jennifer Carpenter filing for divorce. The actor received an Emmy nod later in 2011.

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