Erik King as Sgt. Doakes On Dexter
TakeFiveGal: This is exciting; we get to talk about season 1. Dexter is truly a groundbreaking show. Are you excited to have it airing on CBS?
Yes, absolutely. We’re excited. We’re excited to be able to attract a new audience, a new different audience. I’m curious to see what the show looks like on CBS, of course, they had to make some cuts, parts of the show that need to be cut out. We’ll see what happens, I’m excited.
TakeFiveGal : My dad is excited to watch the show on CBS. He’s not a cable guy, doesn’t get Showtime, so it speaks to the fact that it’ll reach a lot more people.
My mom watches it. When she watches it on Showtime, she can only watch it during the day, because when she watches it she doesn’t sleep at night. [laughing]. Maybe there’s an audience that will be able to watch it at 10:00 on Sundays without having problems sleeping.
TakeFiveGal: When this all started coming together a couple years ago, why did you want to play this character?
I find Doakes absolutely intriguing. I was surprised quite honestly, when we came to the end of the first season. People didn’t like him or they had problems with him. Whereas when I read it, I didn’t feel that at all. I see him as very myopic, he’s very passionate. He’s a really good cop who has a good sense of things that are going on around him. Of course, playing the character from the inside out, I knew exactly what he was trying to get. I think he came off a bit rough, and of course the fact that Dexter is so well written and there’s a sense that the audience seems to be really sensitive to him and sort of sympathetic to him. It sort of makes Doakes the bad guy and that was a little bit of a surprise to me.
TakeFiveGal: When people ask who my favorite character is, I list two, it’s you and Dexter.
Erik King: Oh thank you.
TakeFiveGal: I love the play off between the two.
He’s one of those guys that they love to hate because you know that every time he comes on the screen there’s going to be some shit with Dexter, if you know what I mean.
TakeFiveGal: What was your favorite episode that you got to play over the years?
I actually like the scene when Doakes goes home. I think that’s in season 1. You get to meet his mom and his sisters and you sort of get a little bit of a thread of who he was, who he is, what the undercurrent is. I love all the stuff with Lieutenant LaGuerta, which is Lauren Velez. Because I love the idea that what you see on the surface, just like everything else on the show, isn’t necessarily what’s really going on. Anytime you see him outside the realm of Dexter, you get a sense of who he is as a man.
TakeFiveGal: Are you guys really close as a cast?
Oh yes! Actually Lauren Velez and I were going to have lunch today. She had to cancel, but we were going to have lunch. Julie, I saw her on The View and I saw her doing some of the press tour for Rambo, and we call each other up and say “oh my God, I just saw you” or Michael gets nominated we’ll text him and say “how you doin, man?”
TakeFiveGal: What is your favorite thing about Doakes?
I like that he doesn’t suffer fools well. When he knows that there’s something going on, he goes straight for it. In some ways I believe it’s his fatal flaw as well because he’s not somebody who asks for help, he doesn’t listen for support of other people. He goes for exactly what he wants. I love that clarity of vision. And of course, I love all the great one-liners he has [laughing].
TakeFiveGal: He adds some humor to a rather dark show.
Exactly. And he’s so myopic. He’s such a sort of straight arrow that he comes off hilarious.
TakeFiveGal: Is it hard playing that character? In talking with you even for five minutes, you seem like you’re this really sweet guy in real life, you’re not exactly this myopic, intimidating guy…
Not at all. It’s not hard. I thank you so much for that, and it is true. People often say Erik is the heart of the show. I love falling into him because he’s so not me. I have to say that there’s a part of me, obviously, I wouldn’t be able to play him if there wasn’t, there’s a part of me that understand shim. My father is a retired law enforcement for Washington DC, so there’s a lot of my father in Sergeant Doakes, believe me [laughing]
TakeFiveGal: What are some shows that you watch when you get downtime?
I rent a lot of movies. It’s so hard right now because of the strike. I love Damages. I liked her actually on The Shield. I did Oz for a while with David Zayas and Lauren Velez, but I love that sort of look at humanity. The same way that Dexter sort of turns things upside down.
TakeFiveGal: Oz is a very iconic show, you sort of get into it and you can’t stop watching.
Exactly. And it really is a merit to society, isn’t it? We really hold it up and say who are bad guys, and ya know, where these guys journey through in order to get where they are. And that’s exactly what Dexter does as well. I mean this guy is clearly a serial killer, and especially in Season 1, you have to figure out what’s going on underneath of this, what is driving him, why is it that he can’t connect to humans. And is he more humane than most people?
TakeFiveGal: I would never have guessed two years ago that one of my favorite TV characters would be a serial killer.
Exactly. It’s weird. I always say to people, well what does that say about you, if you love this show haha [laughing]. Someone’s like, I can’t wait for him to kill somebody and it’s like whoa, hold up!
TakeFiveGal: At least he’s killing people that have killed other people. There’s a way to rationalize it.
Right, right, ha. And I think there’s that grain in all of us that would like to take a little vigilante justice in our own hands, especially when we see that people have done some really heinous crimes and you see them slip between the criminal justice system. There’s a part of you that says “oh if I could just…” and you know that you can’t.
TakeFiveGal: It’s odd, but it’s nice to live vicariously through this character.
Erik King: Absolutely.
TakeFiveGal: Who are some of your favorite actors and actresses, or people you’d love to work with?
I love Jeffrey Wright. I love that actor. I love Glenn Close. I’ve worked with Morgan Freeman on one of my first films and I’d love to work with him again, now that I’m a grown man. I worked with him as a teenager in a film called Street Smarts. Of course Meryl Streep, DeNiro, all those guys. I love Don Cheadle. I love the choices that he makes. The kind of work that he does. Hotel Rwanda was incredible. Absolutely incredible. But I love Glenn Close. I love the work that she does. She’s so grounded. And to see her on television is amazing.
TakeFiveGal: You’ve been in the business for quite some time, how did the acting thing start?
I have to give this credit fully probably to my mother. I was one of those urban kids who was hanging out with no direction and she put me in an after school program. There was a performing arts after school program. I went kicking and screaming, believe me. I went to school and then I would go to this after school program and on Saturdays I would go. I started falling in love with the idea of dropping into other characters, dropping into other people’s emotions. It was a way to sort of focus me. It was her idea initially and it’s been a blessing.
TakeFiveGal: It’s definitely seemed to work out!
I’m one of those guys who has like a really big heart, and really compassionate about how people think and what gets people to places in their lives. I do a lot of volunteer work; I love sitting with people, just being a compassionate presence it them. It’s one of those things that’s really important to me.
TakeFiveGal: You don’t get that feeling that there are still people that are compassionate out there in Hollywood, so it’s nice to hear it.
That’s true, maybe not some of the stars that we see. We tend to do those kinds of things in quiet, especially my friends. They do it to bring some balance to their lives.
TakeFiveGal: What would you say to someone who hasn’t watched Dexter, what’s a reason to tune in?
Because I love the moral ambiguity of the show. The fact that it really turns things upside down and makes you really ask yourself, what is justice, what happens when someone is damaged early in their lives. I think it’s a great ride. It’s fun, it’s enjoyable, it has a great sense of humor. This guy who appears to be really damaged on the surface who makes you ask yourself what’s real and what’s not real, what’s important and what’s not important.
TakeFiveGal: Thank you for spending some time with me.
Erik King: It’s been a joy.
Dexter Airs On CBS Sunday Nights At 10PM ET/PT