Interview conducted by and © Edward Gross
One of the first lessons we're taught about the Devil is that he'll use charm rather than brimstone to get what he wants, going against the very notion of what he's supposed to represent. But then you find yourself sitting next to him, looking him in the eye, sharing a laugh, and you realize: Damn, he is charming.
Okay, before anyone calls in an exorcist, Shadowhunter, Mulder and Scully or (going old school) Kolchak, let's clarify that the Devil we're talking about in this particular instance is Tom Ellis, who isn't really the Devil. He just plays him on TV.
In the TV series Lucifer, the character of Lucifer Morningstar has decided to leave Hell behind and vacation in Los Angeles. There he opens a piano bar and, through the murder of a human friend, becomes intrigued by Detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German). He grows amused by the notion of using his "talents" to help her solve crimes while warding off the efforts of the angel Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside) to get him to return to his proper place as the ruler of the underworld.
The Welsh actor is perhaps best known for his roles as Dr. Oliver Cousins in EastEnders, Detective Sergeant Sam Speed in The Catherine Tate Show, Sam in Pulling, Gary inMiranda and the title character of Rush.
So exactly how does a guy go about becoming Lucifer?
It was pilot season last year and I'd been sent quite a few scripts. I'd basically just come off the back of doing Rush, and so I felt like I was in a slightly different position than I'd been before. I had been quite judicious about the scripts I was reading, but nothing was really taking my fancy until I pulled this script out, Lucifer. I have to say, within about three or four pages I thought it was hilarious; I laughed out loud a couple of times and knew this is the one that I wanted to do. I met Len Wiseman, who had been brought on as director, and thankfully Len and I had sort of seen the character in a very similar light. From there on basically the studio was on board and that was it, really. It was pretty seamless.
But what was it about that script that made you really want to do it?
I've worked a lot in comedy. As much as I love playing dramatic roles, it's always nice to be able to have some humor around when working. It was just different in the concept and the character was a different character to a lot of the ones I'd been reading.
Obviously he's the Devil, but how do you view Lucifer?
The interesting thing was stripping away that whole side of it. What I really wanted to do was take this character and go beneath the veneer of Lucifer. Underneath it all, there was a guy who was a hurt soul and rejected from his father. How that played upon his choices was kind of interesting, but also it's going inside a shell of someone who doesn't know what an emotion is. When he feels something, he knows he's feeling something, but he doesn't know what it is. It is just kind of a fascinating thing to take on.
When you look at an episode like "A Priest Walks Into A Bar," talk about the power of what the show can be... Lucifer bonds with a priest, a man he doesn't initially trust but ultimately ends up having faith in.
Exactly. I was so excited about that episode when I first got it. Within any first season you're trying to work out the identity of the show, what we are capable of doing in this show and how it's going to present itself. I'm pretty sure as a standalone episode it was fantastic. I think people would have been shocked to know that we were even allowed to film in a church. Thankfully, there was a church in Vancouver that let us shoot in it, because they realized the power of what the episode was. I thought that was a very gracious and understanding gesture. It took the idea of Lucifer and put him up against a genuinely good man, who really struck a chord with him. That scene when they bonded over the music in the Lux - sharing the piano - was not only the most fun I've ever had, but it was lovely stuff that you don't always get to do. Especially on TV. But it was an unspoken bond happening between them... A really interesting episode.
Absolutely. Real power to it, which was nice to see.
It is. Joe Henderson, our showrunner, likes to talk about the fact that what differentiates our Lucifer or our vision of the Devil is that we believe this Devil has a soul. That's what we tied in with the notion of that episode when the priest walked into the bar.
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