INTERVIEW: Erik King

Published November 12, 2007

Posted Nov. 9, 2007 -- Sgt. James Doakes has got it a wee-bit rough right now. See, while he’s the good guy on Showtime’s “Dexter,” fans of the show aren’t rooting for him at all. Instead, they’re cheering on a serial killer of murderous psychopaths who Doakes is obsessively itching to capture.

It’s all fine with actor Erik King, who before playing Doakes, showed up in such vehicles as “Oz," “CSI: Miami,” and “National Treasure.” That double-edged sword has made “Dexter” one of the hottest shows on the tube right now.

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“It’s very interesting,” says King, a Washington, D.C. native. “I went to see “American Gangster” yesterday, and someone told me to leave Dexter alone!”

No worries, brother. BET.com will be your official cheerleader. Now let’s talk about you instead of that creepy dude.

First question: Are you married?
Single at this very moment. Wait, what time is it? Yeah, I’m single.

Uh-huh. So enough of the personal stuff. The set up for this show is crazy -- a serial killer who kills serial killers? 
The idea of having the main character as an anti-hero, it’s complex. You really have to be sympathetic to him and how he became who he is.

This isn’t your first cop role. What attracted you to Sgt. Doakes?
I’ve played a lot of cops. In fact, my father was a cop. Doakes is an alpha dog. He knows the pathology of a serial killer. It unnerves my character that Dexter shows up to crime scenes and knows more than he knows.

What’s the scoop on how your character will develop this season?
He will be completely obsessed with Dexter. His fatal flaw is that he has a dogged determination. It may not end up being to his benefit.

How does this role compare to some of your other TV work?
What’s great about Showtime is that you can make a role as raw as you want. Doakes has a bad mouth. The network allows him to be as raw as he can be. It’s a joy to have a network behind you in that way.

What more do you want to do?
Doakes is such a serious character. I would love to do a comedy. I think people see me as heavy. I’m also starting to look at contributing to the community. If you really want to see more work that reflects your values, you have to produce it. You have to be a contributor to the business. You have to bring somebody with you. I’m not sure what it will look like yet. 

What advice for aspiring actors would you share?
Keep that instrument sharp. Don’t say you want to be an actor, and not know how to read a script. Don’t give up 15 minutes before the miracle comes. Everyone’s career ebbs and flows, especially if you’re African American. That’s the time to dig in and keep your instrument sharp.

For people who know nothing about “Dexter,” tell them what they're missing.
It’s a psychological ride. It’s a moral ambiguity. This guy is a serial killer that we end up rooting for. How would you deal with your own vigilante justice? What would you do?
I’m always curious how we sometimes have a different point of view when it comes to justice. And that’s why people root for Dexter.

"Dexter" airs on Showtime, Sundays at 9 p.m. (ET)

Written by BET-Staff

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