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David Zayas Interview

I’ve been a huge fan of Dexter since the beginning of the show, and I always have a great time when I talk to the cast.  This year, I had another chance to talk for a bit with David Zayas ( the one and only Angel Battista) about what’s coming up, the relationship that he thinks came out of left field (not that he has a problem with it), and why season 4 is the best time to have yourself a marathon!

What can you tease about season 4, and what people should expect? 

I think a lot of the circumstances have changed, and I’m just talking about Dexter now.  Happy and married, being a family man, having a baby.  When you have a child, you have to think about the future a lot.  Being a serial killer, you don’t think about the future too much.  And so now, a lot of things change in how he approaches his urges, and how he approaches trying to keep that secret life.  It becomes more complicated, it becomes a new challenge.  He’s struggling with the fact, in the beginning of Dexter, he says he doesn’t have emotion, but he does.  He shows it, in this season, that he has the capacity to really love unconditionally, especially when you have a baby.  He’s found the capacity, and the unconditional love now, with the baby. People fall in and out of love, but when you have a child, that’s it.  It’s unconditional.  That changes how he approaches his craft of killing people.

As a fan of the series, there’s always talk about “how can they keep this going”, but with Rita pregnant, and now them having the baby, it’s a whole different level for Michael to play, for us to see.

Yeah, and for me, Dexter always had emotions.  He just was good at just putting it in the back burner, so he can continue to do what he dose with the code.  It’s coming to the surface with the marriage and the baby, you know, he has to really work harder to keep that secret life.  It’s stressful.  It’s complicated, that’s always interesting to watch.  As an audience member, people have secret lives.  Not everybody, but you know.  People watch a show like this, and they go, wow!  Everyone’s got their secrets, and as your life gets more complicated, as it gets filled with people in your life.  It becomes harder and harder to maintain that discretion of what you do that you don’t want anybody else to know.  It’s coming up to the surface right for Dexter.

This season so far, everybody seems to have a secret that they’re keeping, talking about the relationship with Angel and LaGuerta – it makes so much sense.  For years, I’ve had this idea that maybe they should be together.  Is that the feeling you had, or did it come as a shock to you?

No, it came as a shock to me [laughs].  Listen, it’s an easy transition for my character, because Angel gets so involved whole-heartedly in everything that he does.  Everything is big with him.  His guilt, his passion, his love, his commitment, everything is big with Angel.  His screw-ups [laughs]; it makes sense that this is where it’s going to go.  It was actually a pleasant surprise this season.

If you remember the premiere of season 3, and I always found it strange, I always found this scene strange.  LaGuerta comes up to me and says, are you wearing the same clothes? And I tell her, why do you care?  It was a back and forth, kind of like, upset lovers, and there was nothing happening there, and then she tells me I made sergeant.  I always found that scene, like, why are they having this bickering?  And now, it’s almost like they planted this little attraction between them.  Unbeknownst to me, probably unbeknownst to them, that’s how good these writers are.  It just opened up this season, with them having a love affair.  You know it’s not just at fling – they’re actually in love with each other.

There’s a scene, with you two, in the fourth episode, I think – in the elevator, where it was just like “like everyone see” – it shows that there’s something there.

And you know, how rare is it, I will say this.  How rare is it to have two Latinos in their 40s having a love affair on their television show?  First of all, everyone’s gotta be beautiful and in their 20s, it’s great that they have people, mature people of that age, actually exploring love in a television show.  It’s refreshing.  I’m very happy about it.

We talked last year before the season 3 premiere, and we talked about what drew you Angel in the beginning, and now – what are some of your favorite things about playing this character, years later?

Like I said, there is a whole-heartedness in everything that he does.  No matter what he does, he’s doing it because it’s his duty, because he’s passionate about it.  There’s very little ulterior motives with Angel.  Everything is up front.  If he’s angry, he’ll show it; if he’s happy, he shows it.  If he’s disappointed, he shows it, and he shows it one hundred percent, so this character really gives me the opportunity as an actor to really dive into different emotions and different circumstances.  He doesn’t hide too many things.  If he screws up, he is the first to go in and confess it.  Everything is pretty much what you see is what you get with Angel, and I really enjoy that! Coming from a show like Oz where I was just devious, and planning how to kill the next person, and deceptive, calculative, I think this is an opposite character.

Talk a little bit about John Lithgow this season – the first thing I said as I was watching the premiere was that he’s super creepy in like the best way possible!  He’s brilliant – has anyone gotten to interact with him, or are we going to continue to see him doing his thing?

Of course, Dexter interacts with him.  I think we’re just investigating.  We don’t know, we haven’t gotten to the end of the season, we don’t know how far it’s going to go. I haven’t had scenes with him.  What I can tell you is that when he comes to the set, he brings a lot of class to the set.  Just like Jimmy Smits last year. They both are very classy, very happy, and very committed actors that I’ve watched since I was a teenager. I’ve watched John Lithgow all through my teenage years, and watching him on Broadway, being from New York.  Meeting him, really shows how classy that guy is.  He comes in, and immediately it’s a positive energy, to the whole set.  This joy for what we do, and how lucky we are to do it.  He really shows that through his actions and how he treats people.  How professional, how prepared he is.  Though I haven’t worked with him, I’ve seen him on set, and he’s just brilliant.  I gotta give it – they really pick classy fantastic actors to be on the show, from Keith Carradine, to Jimmy Smits, to John Lithgow; those three really bring this layer of just class and professionalism to our show, and I’m really happy.  If I do get to do a scene with John Lithgow, I just hope he doesn’t kill me [laughs].

I think the show is on a whole different level than other things on the air right now, too because of the quality of the cast, the quality of the guest stars.

The thing is, they’re great actors.  That’s always going to show when people watch the show.  And what I’m talking about is from a peer – from working in that environment, and what they bring, makes everything else go better.  That doesn’t happen all the time, but we’re lucky to have three amazing energies in a row coming into the show, and lifting it up to the next level.

Is there going to be any focus on characters starting to suspect Dexter, or is it more focused on the Trinity Killer and the tourist killings?

Yeah, you know what, I’m going to leave that be [laughs] because that’s going to be flashes here and there.

Why is season 4 the best season for people to get involved in the show?

I think season 4 is a great season, because the stakes are much higher.  The stakes are higher for everybody; for everybody involved.  There’s going to be some new secrets that come to the surface that Dexter will have to deal with. There’s going to be interesting challenges for every character coming up, and I think that once you’ve invested four years in these characters, whenever something like this happens, like in the fourth season, people pay more attention to it, people are more invested, and so I think people should go watch seasons 1-3 on DVD and then watch the fourth season [laughs].

You don’t need to leave your house – watch Dexter Seasons 1-3 in stead to get caught up for this new season!  I’ve been telling anyone that I talk to that they need to watch!

Just get a DVD and have a 2 day marathon!

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