Family Reunion from Hell
What better way to celebrate Halloween than to visit with the cast of Fox’s Lucifer?
How does an actor prepare to play the devil?
“Good question,” says the man who had to face that very challenge, Tom Ellis, the titular star of Lucifer on Fox.
“When we started this, I sort of tried to take the weight off that side of it. I really didn’t think too much about it. There was a lot of it on the page for me, as to who the character was. He was this sort of larger-than-life character here in the real world.
"He read a little bit like an Oscar Wilde character, but he was infused with a sort of rock-and-roll spirit, like if Noël Coward and Mick Jagger had sex. That was my starting point.”
The starting point for the show was a series of comic books, spun off from the Sandman series into its own books in the 1990s, originally written by Neil Gaiman and later by Mike Carey. And, while the Fox series is loosely based on those comics, the characters and storyline have evolved into their own arcs.
DB Woodside, who plays Lucifer’s brother angel, Amenadiel, notes that in the comics, his character was an old white man with long white hair, a far cry from the strapping African-American Woodside. Also, in the comics, the two angels were not brothers.
Woodside said that he and Ellis discussed their family dynamic last season. “We definitely talked about it. Basically, how I’m the most stoic brother, the most responsible one. I do whatever dad says, without question. I’m also the warrior brother. He also has a very condescending way of looking at humans. He views humans more as pets.
"Strangely enough, Amenadiel viewed humans last season in a very similar way that mom views humans, so they do have that in common.
"I think Lucifer has always been someone who is more interested in what motivates humans and what drives humans. The fact that they have free will is something that has always fascinated him. It’s always been something that he’s coveted. So, we did talk about it, mostly about how different they are, but that their relationship is based in love. They do love each other. They just have major issues.”
The television series has taken the family theme to heart, bringing in not only Amenadiel, but also a new character this season, Mom (no name other than that), played by Tricia Helfer. In a recent episode, yet another brother was introduced, Uriel, played by The Sopranos’ Michael Imperioli.
Mom’s appearance has brought up even darker family dynamics. Like Lucifer, Mom was cast out of heaven and sent to Hell. Amenadiel was the son who had to take her there, and he is dealing with the guilt of that, while Lucifer had to figure out her punishment, and he fears her retaliation.
However, according to Helfer, Mom just wants to be with her sons and to get things back to the way they used to be, even if her sons don’t necessarily agree.
“She is maternal. She loves her sons, and she wants to be with them. She wants her home back.
"What we as humans might consider evil is that she doesn’t really care about humanity. She blames humanity for the situation she’s in, in many ways, for the rift. Her husband was always in the garage, so to speak, tinkering with this toy called humanity, ignoring his family. Lucifer starts acting out, and rebelling, and he gets sent away, and I start rebelling because I think that’s the wrong thing to do.
"So it’s these bizarre family issues. But for humans watching, they might perceive her as evil because she doesn’t care about humanity. She considers them as insects. So in our world she’s evil, but in her world, they’re to blame for the predicament her family is in.”
Added to Mom’s dislike of humanity is the fact that she has gone from being a non-corporeal being to having to inhabit the body of recently deceased lawyer Charlotte Richards. This “skin sack,” as she calls it, also comes with a husband, children, and a career, all of which she has to figure out how to juggle, as Lucifer decrees that she must live as a human as punishment for escaping Hell.
“In the first two or three episodes, she’s definitely a fish out of water," says Helfer. "She knows about humanity, but it’s the little things – she doesn’t know what a credit card is, and that type of thing. But she’s obviously incredibly bright, so she picks it up quickly. Once she gets more settled, then she can start to craft her plan.”
Lauren German’s Chloe will also face some family drama this season, as the show explores the story of her late father’s murder. “His death was sort of a mystery, and there’s always been some darkness around that, so that story comes back into play as we rediscover John Decker’s death and how that went down. It’s very emotional for Chloe,” German says.
“The theme of season two is family, and we learn a lot more about Chloe’s family,” adds Ellis.
Both the family theme and the diversity of that family are deliberate, according to showrunner Joe Henderson. “Hopefully, what we’ll be able to do is to explore a different kind of humanity every week, through the devil himself.”
Casting, too, showcases the diversity of the human family. “I wasn’t in on the casting of the pilot, but I know diversity is very important to Fox, and I really respect that,” Henderson says.
And now, when they are casting new or guest roles, “We try to reflect the diversity of people, of different lifestyles, of race, all of those things. In an early episode, we established that Lucifer is bisexual. It’s important to reflect all these different elements and all walks of life.”
“We have an incredible writers room that I’m very proud of. We have a room of very diverse backgrounds and perspectives. We have people who are religious, some who are middle, and also some who are more into the procedural.
"What I love is that because our show is such a mishmash, our staff is also a mishmash. And one of the people who is involved in the development, was involved with the development of the pilot and was an executive producer first season and is a co-showrunner with me this year, is Ildy Modrovich, and she’s awesome.”
The actors bring in their own elements of the family feel, as well. Henderson notes that with Ellis and Woodside playing brothers, “Even though it doesn’t look like they’re brothers, you feel that they’re brothers. That’s a testament to them, but it’s also really cool, and when we meet future siblings, they’ll be from all walks of life, and both brothers and sisters, too.”
“Heaven should be everyone, and that’s something we really worked to reflect. Michael Imperioli should feel very different from Tom and DB and the next angel we meet should feel equally different. So that each time we meet an angel it reflects us all.”
For more on Lucifer, click here.
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