Though Courtney Ford plays the perilously ambitious, tough-talking, often-nude Miami reporter Christine Hill on Showtime's Dexter, the 31-year-old actress is nothing but sweet and cheery in person. (During our recent phone chat, she actually thanked me, her lowly interviewer, for being nice!) So how has such a sunny gal dealt with the grim material of the show? Well, it turns out the actors are pretty much as in the dark about how wicked their storylines are going to get as we viewers are. Here's what she had to say about the show's secrecy, and her character's Big Episode this weekend.
This is your first major recurring role on a series. How has that experience been, coming back to film week after week?
It’s been nothing but great. I was grateful every single day to be, you know, not just having a job, but to be working on a really great show.
Were you familiar with the show before you were cast?
You know, I hadn’t seen the show at all, but once we got into filming episode five, my husband and I watched all three seasons. Boom boom boom, four episodes a night. We became really addicted to it, and now I’m a huge nerd for the show.
The nature of the show means it has to be super-secretive about plotlines. Has it been agony not being able to tell anyone what’s going on?
Yes it’s been horrible. I can’t even tell my parents. They call me and say “I think it’s this. Is it this??” I would love to share what I know, but I can’t! Though, I can say that [this Sunday's] episode has an ending that I guarantee nobody has seen coming.
Your character has been having something of a slow build, her story developed in small increments. Was that hard to play? I mean, how much direction and character insight did you get from the beginning?
[long pause] Sorry, that’s a good question and I’m trying to figure out how I can answer it. I knew... certain things about my character, but I didn’t know how we were going to get to them. I mean, the producers don’t tell the cast anything. The cast all speculates with each other. Everyone’s in the dark.
So you knew the ultimate destination, just not the journey?
I didn’t know the ultimate destination. But I knew... a huge pit stop. No one knows what’s ultimately happening in the end, though, until we get the script.
Actors often say that on a dark movie or show, the off-camera mood on the set tends to be very light, to kind of alleviate pressure. Did you find that to be true on this show?
Everybody really gets along on set, there is definitely joking and teasing. But as far as the actors, these guys are just serious, serious actors. I just mentioned in another interview that Michael C. Hall got his MFA from NYU, Jenny Carpenter went to Juliard. John Lithgow studied at the London Academy of Dramatic Art. All of that was extremely intimidating to be around, but it was so amazing to work with all of them. Hall blows my mind.
I know everyone has theories about the show. I for one think that it was your character who shot Deb and Lundy. Do you get bugged with theories like that all the time now?
People are really starting to press me with theories. Some people get close to the mark, some are really far off. But you know, it’s coming down to the wire! Episode nine is coming up, and a lot of those long standing questions are getting ready to be answered. You don’t have to wait that much longer to find out where it’s all headed...
Was there any one actor on the show that you wanted to work with but didn’t get a chance to?
[Laughs] That’s really a question I can’t answer.
What’s next for you?
I just came back from Vancouver, where I shot an episode of Human Target, an upcoming Fox show with Mark Valley that’s based on a DC comic. It was the most fun I’ve ever had. The whole episode takes place on a plane that’s crashing. It’s action packed, full of adrenalin. We filmed on a 737 cut into three pieces, I got to do a lot of stunts. I’m really excited for people to see it.
Your husband, Brandon Routh, is also an actor. Have you worked together? Would you like to in the future?
We did a movie together called Fling. It had like a two week theatrical release, it’s little indie. You can get it on Netflix. Oh, and it just got bought by Showtime! It used to be called Lie to Me, but they changed it because of the Fox show. It’s very sexy, and just a great love story. I had a lot of fun working on it. The style is very Cassavetes, Bergman. Cinema-verite style, just very natural. It was great to be that free.