Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter Gave Each Other "Our Lives"

The Dexter co-stars married on New Year’s Eve in 2008 and divorced two years later. 

Michael C. Hall wearing a suit with his arm around Jennifer Carpenter, wearing a strapless dress
Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic


Golden Globe-winning actor Michael C. Hall and SAG Award-nominated actress Jennifer Carpenter.

How They Met

Hall and Carpenter met in 2006 on the set of Showtime series Dexter, in which they would each take on a starring role — Hall as titular serial killer Dexter, and Carpenter as Dexter's sister (and law enforcement officer) Debra. He was 35 at the time, and Carpenter was 27.

But it wasn't until 2008 that the dating rumors began. In the spring, People reported that the onscreen siblings had shared a "romantic" dinner in L.A.

"We had a great base for our relationship," Carpenter explained in an interview with On Demand Entertainment. "We see each other on a day-to-day basis. I know him; he knows me."

Michael C. Hall wearing a gray button-down shirt standing next to Jennifer Carpenter, wearing a floral dress
Eric Charbonneau/WireImage

Carpenter and Hall made things official that New Year's Eve, eloping in Big Sur.

"It was nice to do it alone," Carpenter later said of the private ceremony. "I think it's the most personal commitment you could make. Even knowing that our families were with us in spirit, it was enough. It just needed to be the two of us."

Why We Loved Them

Though the romance was short-lived, it's clear there was (and is!) a lot of love between the actors.

When asked on-camera to name the best gift they'd ever given each other during an interview in late 2009, Hall was quick to provide a sentimental response: "Our lives." Carpenter, giggling, replied "agreed."

Michael C. Hall on the red carpet wearing a suit with his arm around Jennifer Carpenter, wearing a strapless black dress
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

But the newlywed bliss was short-lived. While filming season 4 in 2009, Hall was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Carpenter stood by his side through treatment and Hall was in "complete remission" soon after.

"It's always felt like an opportunity to get closer and I'm just so impressed with him and anyone who's had to go through it," Carpenter told Access Hollywood of Hall's battle. "Every second's special with him, it sounds corny but it's true. I'm very lucky."

During this period, Hall won a Golden Globe for his work on the Showtime drama. He concluded his speech with a call-out to Carpenter: "Jennifer, all my love and gratitude."

When They Peaked

In the fall of 2008, months before the couple's surprise nuptials, Carpenter unofficially nominated her boyfriend for People magazine's highest honor.

Michael C. Hall wearing a suit and a beanie holding a trophy with his arm around Jennifer Carpenter, who is wearing a strapless red dress
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

"He's the sexiest man alive," Carpenter said of Hall. "He's one of the best we've got. He's an incredible talent and if anyone deserves accolades, it's him."

The Breakup

In December of 2010, nearly two years after their elopement, Entertainment Weekly announced that the Dexter stars were divorcing.

"Having been separated for some time, Jennifer Carpenter and Michael C. Hall have filed for divorce," a representative shared at the time.

Cue the frenzied spinning of tabloid stories …

Just days after the announcement was made, Carpenter and Hall's Dexter co-star Julia Stiles (who happened to play Hall's love-interest) released a statement hitting back at rumors that she had come between the former couple.

Michael C. Hall wearing a black suit with his arm around Jennifer Carpenter, who is wearing a black ruffled gown
Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

"I have absolutely nothing to do with the split between Michael and Jennifer," Stiles told Us Weekly. "We are good friends and enjoyed working together."

"This is a personal matter between them, and we should respect their privacy," she clarified, "Although I too prefer to keep my private life private, I felt compelled to dispel the rumors I was somehow the cause for this matter."

Unlike most exes who don't share children, Carpenter and Hall were unable to do the whole "time apart" thing. Dexter continued on with both stars for another three seasons.

Less than a year later, Carpenter opened up about what it was like working with her ex during an interview with Today. "Has it changed anything? Yes," she admitted. Still, she acknowledged that Hall "is and always will be one of my best friends in the world."

"Just because the marriage ended doesn't mean the love isn't still there," she continued. "We take very good care of each other and our cast, we always have, and I'm just really lucky."

A couple months later, in an interview with Fresh Air, Hall echoed his ex-wife's sentiment.

"It's a unique challenge, one that is unprecedented in my experiences," he said of working with Carpenter. "I haven't been able to compare notes with anyone about it. I think Jennifer is an astonishing actress. She remains a dear friend as well as a dear colleague. I think we take some pride in the fact that we've not just maintained our professionalism, but our sense of enthusiasm about the story. And the story continues for us. We're still in the other's life, in a different capacity I suppose, but it's an amicable situation, to say the least."

Michael C. Hall in a navy suit standing near Jennifer Carpenter, in a black strapless gown
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

In early 2012, a smattering of reconciliation rumors arose after Carpenter and Hall were spotted on a series of seemingly romantic outings (in all tabloid fairness, they were photographed cuddling on the beach at sunset). A People source dispelled the speculation quickly: "Jennifer and Michael are friends. They spend time together. They work together. It was not romantic."

When the cast gathered for a PaleyFest panel ahead of the show's series finale in September 2013, an audience member (naturally) asked Carpenter and Hall to discuss working together post-divorce once more.

"Our marriage didn't look like anyone else's, and our divorce didn't either," Carpenter answered, tearing up onstage. "There's nothing but love and respect. Nothing."

Where They Are Now

Hall wed Canadian book critic and novelist Morgan Macgregor in 2016 after several years together.

Carpenter remarried in 2016 as well, wedding Avett Brothers musician Seth Avett. The couple welcomed son Isaac the year prior, in 2015.

Both actors currently star in Showtime's Dexter reboot Dexter: New Blood.

#TBT: Check in every Thursday as we throw it back to some of our favorite celebrity couples of all time.

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