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Super Girl: Jennifer Carpenter

Photo by James Weber


Dexter star Jennifer Carpenter chases killers all day, runs marathons by morning, scales fire escapes in a few swift strides—and still has time to save the world.

Jennifer Carpenter scurries from the street toward the tiny café with one hand curiously placed on the crown of her head and the other reaching for the door. Her emerald-green eyes are wide with dismay as she explains, “Hold on, I think I just got shit on.”

A fitting entrance for an actress who’s best known for playing Debra Morgan, the feisty, foul-mouthed cop and sister to a serial killer (played by her ex-husband Michael C. Hall) on Showtime’s much-acclaimed crime series Dexter. The striking five-foot-nine brunette’s creative use of cuss words and inappropriate phrases (including her favorite “Christ on a crutch”) has become a trademark. Off-set, her flare for profanity remains intact, as proven on this cool autumn morning in post-Hurricane Sandy lower Manhattan.

Back from the bathroom, the 33-year-old Kentucky native announces that it was “just dirty water.” This seems far less offensive than bird feces to the former New York resident who first relocated to the gritty city some 15 years ago to train at the world-famous Julliard School. The move led to her Broadway debut in 2002’s The Crucible and ultimately to her breakout role in the 2005 film The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Since then, Carpenter has been on a horror streak, ranging from Dexter to the upcoming cannibalistic thriller Bone Tomahawk co-starring Kurt Russell and Peter Sarsgaard.

Though Carpenter now lives in Los Angeles when Dexter is in production, she was in town for the ING New York City Marathon. This year, the three-time marathoner was set to lace up in NYC with a purpose: to race on behalf of Every Mother Counts (EMC), a nonprofit founded by supermodel-turned- activist Christy Turlington-Burns that raises awareness and support for maternal health around the globe. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s destructive impact across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic in late October, the marathon was canceled for the first time in its 42-year history.

That didn’t stop Carpenter from breaking a sweat to give back to both EMC and NYC. Here, she shares what went down before, during and after last fall’s Marathon Sunday.

WERE YOU IN THE CITY FOR HURRICANE SANDY?

JENNIFER CARPENTER: Yeah, I got in three days before. I’m subletting an apartment in SoHo from a girlfriend. I like to come here in between filming to reset. Even though you can go a hundred miles per hour here, it rejuvenates me somehow. I guess it’s because life is so predictable in LA. I’m up at the crack of dawn and home after sundown. On average, we work 13-hour days or longer and they can be brutal.

WHAT DID YOU DO THE NIGHT THE STORM HIT?

JC: I was planning on weathering it out alone, which is a terrible idea. I didn’t get scared until we lost power and heard how the facade had ripped off some building nearby. I ended up crashing with friends who had electricity uptown. When I realized that I had left my running shoes in SoHo, I had to go back for them the next day. I forgot the keys to my building, so I scaled six stories up the fire escape to get inside.

WAIT, YOU BROKE INTO YOUR OWN BUILDING?

JC: The Italian restaurant next door let me climb onto their first-floor fire escape. My hands started shaking somewhere near the third floor. I thought, Are my running shoes worth dying over? I guess so, because I kept going. At the top, this guy recognized me through his window and let me in. Before I could explain what I was doing, he asked, “Can we get a picture?” I had just done Kelly and Michael that morning, so I was in full hair and makeup.

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