Aimee Garcia is at another crossroads in her life. With the final season of Dexter hitting the air, the actress, who plays Jamie, the devoted serial killer’s nanny and friend, is approaching an open window in her career. The next film on her roster, RoboCop, 2014’s big budget reboot, has wrapped. Dexter’s final bloody episodes are weeks from being in the can. Decisions need to be made, but Garcia, who has clocked in over a decade in Hollywood, is good at life-altering choices. A few years out of college, with a job offer at Morgan Stanley on the table, Garcia dropped a promising, safe, adult gig in the big city, to pursue her childhood dream for good. “It’s kind like dating a guy you think is great, but you have to go out and sow your oats,” she explained. “I dated finance and then I was like, you know what, I’m going back to my first love.” This past year, that jump landed her opposite Gary Oldman in Robocop, a topic we delved into quite deeply. Read on for more on Garcia’s final Dexter arc, her first big audition for Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, and the year ahead.
How close are you to wrapping the show?
Very, very close. Very bittersweet close. We have a couple left.
Are people dying already?
Oh yeah. There’s rolling heads all over the place. [Laughs] Our star is a serial killer. Everyone’s head is on the chopping block at all times.
I think it’s fair to say Jamie’s one of the only innocent people left in Dexter’s life after seven seasons. Does it stay that way in season 8?
You’re right. She’s one of the few people who don’t have blood on their hands and are pretty innocent and what you see is what you get. Every character on the show has a journey, and this year Jaime gets to go on a journey that kind of changes her forever. She was the one with the most sunshine but this season she definitely gets kind of dragged a little more into the dark world of Dexter.
So you’re happy with her arc?
It’s nice, because I always say she’s a really good litmus test for how far the characters have come. She sees Dexter in the same way that everyone saw him in the pilot–as bringing donuts, really awkward kind of geeky and all about blood. He’s just such a nerd and she still sees him that way when everyone else has kind of had their doubts and questions. She thinks he’s the best boss in the world and really sees him as family, and she probably is the closest thing he has to a wife and the closest thing Harrison has to a mother, but nothing can last forever.
Had you hoped the show would go on longer?
I would love it to keep going another couple years, but I really respect that Michael wants this characters journey to end in the right way and he really respects the fans in that way. We’re not going to keep doing this just because we can, just because our ratings keep going up. It’s very rare, I think, to cancel a show when we they keep getting more and more viewers every year. But it just speaks to the caliber of how much he believes in this character’s journey. He’s like, “This is the right time to end.” So it is. It’s the end.
You had some pretty big auditions at an early age—Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet, for example. What was that like?
That’s when I was just this kid in Chicago. I was in junior high and I auditioned for this role in Romeo & Juliet. The next thing I know, there’s a lawyer from Fox at my house, and they’re flying my dad and I out to meet Baz Luhrmann in New York. I had no idea what a screen test was. I didn’t have my makeup done or my hair done. I had no clue what was going on. I was just this kid plucked from Chicago after putting myself on tape for the lead of this huge movie. So I show up and there are five girls: Natalie Portman, Reese Witherspoon, Claire Danes, and Christina Ricci. And I’m like, “Holy shit, I probably should have gotten my hair done.”
You had a brief segue into finance before you became a professional actress. Why did you return to acting?
When I graduated college, I moved to Brooklyn to work as a mutual fund analyst for an investment survey company because I wanted to fuse my economics and journalism degrees together. And I thought, “I’m broke and I’m living out of a closet in the ghetto of Brooklyn, but hey this is why I graduated school.”
Then I got a job offer at Morgan Stanley’s mergers and acquisitions division, and I thought, “Do I admit to myself that I actually love what I do and make a career out of it and face the fact that I wasn’t just acting just to pay for college, but that I actually love this, or do I do what you do with parents who are immigrants, and take the safe road?” I, of course, did not listen to my parents and did not take the safe road and packed up my things and said that’s it.
And now you have a role in the new RoboCop film due out next year. How far along is the project?
We’ve wrapped, actually. I shot that on hiatus. It’s incredible to have all your scenes with Gary Oldman. He’s such an iconic, timeless actor. He’s really one of the actors who is a chameleon. How many actors can you say have the range of playing Sid Vicious and Beethoven and comedy and drama—Fifth Element and Dracula. His diversity is just incredible. So once I kind of got over my giddiness of working with him, it was great. He’s so smart and he’s so good at what he does–he’s a perpetual observer. I got to watch his work and every take was completely different and he was able to so gracefully fuse comedy with heartbreak with this sincerity that I feel very few people still have and yet a relatability.
Tell me about your character.
We’re both scientists who help create and bring RoboCop back to life. I’m his assistant in a way and his second in command, so I couldn’t ask for a better captain. In a scene, if I was saying something, he’d just bring my character to life with a gesture or hold my hand or look over to me. He’s just very generous, which is kind of a dream come true for any actor.
I mean, even I’m jealous.
[Laughs] And he’s so stylish. He’s the only guy I think can pull off purple socks. Even if your call time is five in the morning, he’s just pumping up the Beatles and David Bowie. He’s awesome.
A part of me wants to go to Machu Picchu for a month, or go to the Galapagos Islands, or live in Berlin for the summer. I don’t know. I’ve been working non-stop. I think I worked like 330 days this year. I’ve been very fortunate as an actor, because there are definitely long breaks between projects. I told Michael C. Hall that he’s kind of screwed it for me, like where do you go after you’ve flown first class? It’s really hard to go back to coach. So I don’t know what’s next. It’s hard to beat a show like Dexter. I really think there was nothing like it eight years ago. What happens when you’re part of an iconic series? I’m either going to do nothing and just travel, do theater, or if something strikes me creatively do that. But I’d rather do nothing than go backwards.
Dexter premieres Sunday June 30 on Showtime.