'Dexter' Season 8: 'One Tree Hill's' Bethany Joy Lenz 'beside myself' to join as love interest

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Bethany Joy Lenz knew, in joining "Dexter" for its final round, that anything could happen to her character.

And anything can, especially since she plays a potential love interest for the serial killer ( Michael C. Hall). The "One Tree Hill" alum makes her first appearance in the concluding Season 8 of the Showtime series Sunday (July 21), with her alter ego Cassie guided by babysitter Jamie ( Aimee Garcia) toward a romantic set-up with Dexter.

"I'm a huge fan of the show," Lenz tells Zap2it, "so I was beside myself when I got the part. Networks like Showtime and HBO are very secretive about their shows, which is part of why it's always so tantalizing, especially for an actor. You don't know quite what you're walking into, but you trust the quality of the work and the people you're working with."

"Dexter" star and executive producer Hall proved himself one of those people for Lenz, who declares working with him "wonderful. We talked a little musical theater, because we both have that background, but I really wanted to respect his process and stay out of the way unless we were working on a scene together.

"He's carrying the whole show, so he's got to be on top of the thought process of his character at any given moment. I think there's a general sense of respect around him, but he's really lovely and kind and funny. Just a really nice guy."

Calling Cassie "kind of a bohemian chick," Lenz admits to jitters when she initially arrived on the "Dexter" set: "I was a nervous wreck my first day. I was so excited to be there and to be working with them, and it had been a while. I hadn't found any projects after 'One Tree Hill' that I felt said, 'This is the next thing I could do.'

"I had a lot of things come across my plate that just didn't seem they had that much to them, and I really wanted to make a statement about my work. Finally, when the opportunity for 'Dexter' came up and I was really nervous, everybody was so nice about it. I only worked one day on that first episode, then on my second episode, I got it together. I was able to show up and really be a part of everything."

Though "Dexter" is nearing its finale, Lenz stresses as she enters it, "Everything these writers do is so intentional. A lot of the characters are representative of themes in Dexter's life, which is something I've noticed in each season of the show as I've watched it ... so I think you can count on Cassie to represent something important for Dexter."

Also a singer-songwriter with a new album on the way, Lenz continues to hear from fans about her "One Tree Hill" days as Haley, especially since that series still repeats daily on SoapNet. "I loved that show and am truly grateful for it," she says, "but as an artist, it's always fun to explore other things."
Photo/Video credit: Showtime