Actress Yvonne Strahovski joins Season 7 of the Showtime drama series Dexter, premiering on September 30th, playing the mysterious Hannah McKay. A woman with a dark part and secrets of her own, she meets Dexter (Michael C. Hall) because she’s helping the Miami Police Department on an old case.
While at the Showtime portion of the TCA Press Tour, Collider (along with one other outlet) was given the opportunity to participate in an interview with the ultra-charming Aussie about her transition from the more light-hearted Chuck to the darker and sexier material on Dexter, the nerve-wracking experience of being a guest on someone else’s show, watching all six seasons in three weeks prior to her starting work, and how badly she wants to get to say the F-word on camera. She also talked about her work in the upcoming features Guilt Trip (with Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand) and I, Frankenstein (with Aaron Eckhart and Bill Nighy), her favorite memory of her time on Chuck, and what she learned from the five years she spent in her first lead role on an American TV show. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
YVONNE STRAHOVSKI: Well, I play Hannah McKay, who comes into the story in Episode 3. It’s safe to say that she has a dark past that is slowly revealed, as the episodes go on, and she holds some secrets. She meets Dexter because she’s helping the Miami Police Department on a case that’s been around for awhile.
Are you at the point where you can reveal more than just the fact that your character has got a mysterious past?
STRAHOVSKI: No. All I can say is that she has a checkered past with a past boyfriend. And all of these dark secrets come to light, in the episodes.
Is she working with Dexter because she has to, or because something draws her to the case?
STRAHOVSKI: That’s a good question. It is in her best interest to work with him. I’m really proud of that answer.
How dark do you get to go with this role, compared to what you’ve done before?
STRAHOVSKI: Pretty dark, actually. After watching all six seasons, and all the episodes, what will happen with my character in this show is something that has never happened before, in a Dexter episode.
What was your experience coming into this ensemble, with this already established group of actors?
STRAHOVSKI: Everyone was very welcoming. I feel like I’ve known them all for a little while now, even though I’ve only been there for a little bit. But, personally, it was a little nerve-wracking. I’ve not had that experience, where I’ve been a guest on someone else’s show before. This is a first time experience for me, to walk into such a close-knit family, on such an established show that’s critically acclaimed. You have to take a deep breath and dive on in. But, Michael [C. Hall] sets the tone for the work on set, and everyone is very generous. They’re very giving and respectful, so it’s just been a really great environment to be working in.
When you got the phone call to be a part of this show, how did you feel and did you worry about what they saw in you for this?
STRAHOVSKI: I hadn’t actually thought about that, but now I will! I’m honored and flattered to have been asked to have been a part of it. This show is really amazing, and they’ve had really great guest stars in the past, too. It’s fantastic! I don’t know what they saw in me. (Executive producer) Scott Buck said, I think at Comic-Con, that he thought I was mysterious, even though I seem likeable, and that I might not be so likeable. I’m not going to take that personally. I think it works for the show.
STRAHOVSKI: She’s a sexy lady. I would say that she’s probably one of the more physically free characters that I’ve played. For five years, I played someone who was part of a law enforcement agency. Sarah was a CIA agent who was a little bit more rigid than Hannah McKay will be.
How easy or hard has it been to delve into material as dark as Dexter?
STRAHOVSKI: I think every role that you come across is something that you have to wrap your head around. The world that they’ve set up in Dexter is so far-fetched, and they’ve done an amazing job of having the audience root for this guy, who’s a serial killer that you wouldn’t ordinarily root for. So, just those circumstances, in itself, take some time to wrap your heard around. Because I’m the guest on the show, and I haven’t been there for six years with the others, establishing my role, I’m in fast-forward, trying to figure out who Hannah McKay is, very quickly. And the storyline moves very quickly, as well. We’re going to see a lot of things come to light, pretty soon.
Had you seen much of Dexter, before getting the role?
Being familiar with the show now, are there characters that you’d love to have some interaction with, at some point?
STRAHOVSKI: I would love to interact with all of them. That would be great. I’m pretty sure that there will be some interaction with Deb (Jennifer Carpenter). They’re all fantastic! Masuka (C.S. Lee) would be fun.
Every guest star so far on the show has had a finite experience. Even if you go the whole season, there’s not a lot of the show left. What are you hoping that this sets you up for, career wise?
STRAHOVSKI: I guess it’s just more of a showcase of something that I haven’t done, and being able to play in that world of darkness. You get to pretend to be another human being, in one lifetime. That’s the beauty of it. Hopefully, as an actor, you can change it up when you get new characters. One time, it might be in the comedy genre, and then another time it might be dramatic. Through all these different characters, you have these different lives and different aspects of yourself that you put into it, and different aspects that you have to find from elsewhere to put into it. Hopefully, something comes out of it that’s both entertaining and intriguing, at the same time.
STRAHOVSKI: I don’t like waves at the beach. Does that count? I get scared of the big waves. I’ve been dumped a couple of times, in a wave. You don’t know what mother nature is going to throw at you, with a wave.
Are you getting to enjoy the freedom of being on a cable show, and perhaps getting to curse?
STRAHOVSKI: I so badly want to curse! I don’t think that I’ve ever said the F-word on camera, ever, unless it’s me messing up a line, and then that’s the first word coming out of my mouth on the blooper reel. But, no, I’ve never officially gotten to say the F-word. It would be great, but I don’t think that I will get to.
Do you find that everything is just wide open on cable?
STRAHOVSKI: It is, and it’s a different beast. I’m definitely enjoying the freedom with that. On this show, there’s a lot of trust placed in the actor, for what you bring to it. They really flesh out what you’re bringing to the table, and we’re working with a great director now, who’s very detailed oriented. There’s a level of attention to detail that’s amazing, and I’m really loving that.
Is there a genre that you haven’t done, that you crave doing?
STRAHOVSKI: It’s all over the spectrum, for me. I don’t want to be the funny girl or the serious girl. I would hope to touch on all different genres and all different types of characters, which I think I’ve been lucky enough to do, so far. Chuck was a comedy show, but within that show, we got to do a lot of comedy and drama and action and romance. And now, Dexter is so different with a much darker tone. It’s more realistic. He’s a serial killer, and the show is about a serial killer, but it’s realistic, in the sense of how you’re acting. It’s not as stylistic a show as Chuck, which was like a comic book. This is more about real people. And then, I’ve got a couple of movies coming out, at the end of the year. I did Guilt Trip, with Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen, which is very much a comedy, and it was great to be a part of a straight-up comedy movie. And I have I, Frankenstein coming out in February, and that’s more of a thriller where I play a scientist. I feel pretty lucky to have done that.
STRAHOVSKI: She’s great! She’s very friendly, very sweet and very funny. Her and Seth had a great rapport on set. So many people came out of the woodwork, when they found out that I was doing that. They were very excited.
How was it to shoot I, Frankenstein in Australia?
STRAHOVSKI: It’s always great to be back in Australia. That’s the fourth movie now that I’ve gotten to go back to Australia for. It was great! I had a really nice time. Stuart Beattie, who wrote and directed it, is fantastic. He’s such a great guy and so deserving of this opportunity. This is his second feature film now. I had a really great time, particularly with Bill Nighy, who’s just such a character. I have nothing but amazing things to say about Bill Nighy. He’s so much fun!
You have a huge fan base from Chuck that will follow you, with whatever you do. What do you think they’ll think of your role on Dexter?
STRAHOVSKI: I think that they’ll hopefully be surprised and supportive. They’re so supportive and have been with us, from day one. I think that I can speak for all of the Chuck actors when I say that, whatever we now do in our careers, they will always be behind us to back us up and follow us on to the next thing that we do.
STRAHOVSKI: Probably the entire last month of shooting. I think that was the most fun. We all relaxed a little bit, as people in each other’s lives, especially the actors. For me, I feel like I bonded a lot more with everybody in the fifth season, and spring boarded off of that into what is now post Chuck. We choose to hangout with each other because we love each other and we don’t have to see each other on a daily basis.
Did you pick up a skill, from playing that character, that you’ll always be able to use?
STRAHOVSKI: Oh, yeah, I can do guns, and lots of martial arts and punching. Hopefully, I could defend myself.
Do you think you could defend yourself in a real fight?
STRAHOVSKI: I don’t know. I don’t want to know because I don’t want to ever be faced with that, but I’d like to think that I could throw a punch.
Did being a part of Chuck change you, as an actor, and inform what you’re doing now?
STRAHOVSKI: Oh, yeah! Five years on a show, and that was my first lead role on a television show in the States, I learned so much. I learned from the people that I worked with. Everyone had something new that I could observe and absorb. Hopefully, you do that on every job. Even just being on Dexter now, and watching Michael and the other actors that I’ve gotten to work with so far, everyone has something different to bring. It’s incredible to watch and learn from that, and also the directors and the writers, as well. It’s an ever-evolving process for me, until the day that I die. Hopefully, I’m still in this industry when I’m 85, and playing someone’s great grandmother.