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Emmy contenders: Julia Stiles hated to end 'Dexter' romance

August 10, 2011 |  4:00 pm

Julia Stiles as Lumen and Michael C. Hall as Dexter 
During the Season 5 finale of “Dexter” (and, yes, there are spoilers ahead), Julia Stiles’ avenging (ahem) angel Lumen walked away from her partner in crime, leaving the show and our favorite serial killer’s heart in tatters.

No, Dexter didn’t take the breakup well. Neither did Stiles. We talked to the actress, a freshly minted Emmy nominee, who snagged a nod for her seasonlong guest spot on the Showtime series, while she waited for a flight at LAX.

AT: So … Lumen breaking up with Dexter caught you off guard?

J.S.: I was very surprised. I thought everything we had been building toward over the course of the season -- the trust and connection between Lumen and Dexter -- was just thrown away. I had a hard time understanding that. Their vigilante justice was so romantic in a perverse way.

AT: Did you raise your hand and say anything?

J.S.: It’s not my job to critique the writing. I’m there to serve it. I had to figure out a way to make it work.

AT: Well, Dexter did throw a plate at her …

J.S.: That was a big part of it. That confirmed her worst fears about his anger. It kind of sealed the deal and snapped her back to reality where she realized that what they were doing was pretty … um … bizarre.

AT: How much did they tell you about Lumen’s arc before you signed on?

J.S.: They told me the broad strokes of what would happen over the season. I asked them: “Do I get to kill someone?” And they said, “Yes.” And I said, “OK, I’m on board.”

AT: Because what’s a guest spot on “Dexter” without a visit to the kill room?

J.S.: Honestly, I thought Lumen would wind up dead because every guest gets murdered in the end. But it wasn’t about just getting to kill someone. That’s a trite way of saying it. It was about being inside Dexter’s secret world as opposed to outside of it.

AT: So what’s the kill room like?

J.S.:It’s pretty exhilarating, partially because of the history of the show. There’s a kind of sacredness to the way that they’re filmed. Everyone’s very much on alert because of the safety issues, but, yeah, that tradition … I felt privileged to be a part of it. And then performing it, you get to play out things in your imagination that you’re not allowed to do. That was special to me.

AT: Not that you have a particular urge to kill people …

J.S.:(Laughs) No! But emotions like hate or anger or revenge, all the stuff you have to repress in civilized society.

AT: Theoretically, Lumen could still come back next season.

J.S.: I … uh … Honestly, I have no idea. That’s out of my jurisdiction.

AT: She’s out there somewhere. And she has secrets. Terrible secrets. She could star in a pretty interesting show of her very own.

J.S.: I guess the whole thing within the “Dexter” logic was that her dark cloud had lifted. She satisfied her need for vengeance, so she didn’t have that urge anymore. So if you follow that logic, if she did have her own show, it might be really boring.


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-- Glenn Whipp

Photo: Julia Stiles and Michael C. Hall in a scene from "Dexter." Credit: Cliff Lipson / Showtime