Earlier in the summer I had an opportunity to interview Tom Ellis, the star of Fox’s Lucifer. We ran most of the interview in the Bleeding Cool Magazine, but with the series having returned for a second season and the first season hitting Blu-Ray / DVD this week, it seemed like a good idea to run the interview here on the site. This interview took place prior to the casting of Tricia Helfer as Lucifer’s Mom.
If you tuned into the latest Fox hit series, Lucifer after spending an hour in Gotham City, you were introduced to Welsh actor Tom Ellis playing the charismatic, self-indulgent and dangerous Lucifer Morningstar. Ellis has lead a series before, just the prior year he was the start of USA’s series Rush and prior to that he was a regular on U.K. Television popping up in comedies like the Catherine Tate Show to soap operas like East Enders.
The diversity of his experience seems to be on display in the new series as his character will bounce form being silly to seductive to irate to sitting behind a piano and singing. Ellis’ take on Lucifer demands you watch him because you never know what he’s going to do next… and folks have been tuning in just to see what that might be, enough so that the show got a second season.
I had the opportunity to talk with him one morning and found the actor to be as equally charming as his character.
DAN WICKLINE: Going into Lucifer, were you aware of the comic series? And what type of preparation did you do for the role?
TOM ELLIS: When I first got the script I wasn’t aware that it was based on a comic book. I didn’t find it out until after I got the job. It was during pilot season in America last year, I had been sent a lot of scripts but nothing was striking a chord in me. And then I picked up the script for Lucifer from my bag and about three pages in I knew it was what I wanted to do. It was really funny with a really great character and I saw a lot of potential in it. That was my intro into it.
And then I went to go met Len Weisman who had been brought on as the director. We bonded immediately over our mutual enthusiasm for the story. He liked what I was doing with the character and that’s how it all started.
DW: Lucifer likes to sing and I found the choice of songs to be really interesting, whether it Nina Simone’s Sinner Man or King of Pain by the Police. Do you have an input on which songs are chosen for the series?
TE: I don’t have any input on which songs are chosen, but what I have had an influence on is the arrangements of the songs and how it all comes together. We’ve got a composer we work with and we chat with him about what we want to do with it and the tone of it. Then they leave me to learn it and work on it and then record it. It’s something I’m really glad they incorporated into the show. I don’t think that was their intention in the first place, but I don’t think they knew I liked signing so much.
DW: Over the season, Lucifer has been showing an increasing level of morality… even to his own surprise. Do you see that as something that is being brought out by his interaction with Detective Decker or is that something that has always been there from his origins?
TE: I think it’s a bit of both. What I love about this character is that we assume that he is one thing. As the show goes on, the whole Lucifer veneer slowly gets chipped away and you realize that underneath it all there is a hurt little boy. He feels very resentful towards his father and resentful of how he is viewed by other people because of a role he was forced to play. That’s something that has been there since his origins, but he’s become this other thing,
The thing about his interactions with Chloe, since none of his charms or powers seem to work on her, she’s immediately disarming of him. So he has to be himself in front of her and you realize that the person he appears to be is a mask that he’s been wearing.
DW: We’ve seen as Amenadiel spends more time on Earth and away from Heaven, his morality is coming into question and his choices. Do you think that no matter who was chosen for the role that Lucifer got, that it would’ve had a similar effect on them?
TE: I’d like to think that. There is a certain sort of nature vs nurture question at play there, but yeah I do. If you’re force to do the things that we allude to him doing in hell to people in terms of punishing them, as one of my writers said to me, “that shit gets to you after a while.” I think the idea that Amenadiel is committing dubious actions is basically the cornerstone of our show. In a lot of television, you have a lot of black and white circumstances. You have the good people and the bad people. I think a fairer representation of the real world is a big gray area of ambiguity. Everyone is capable of doing both good and bad things. The accountability of that is a whole different issue. I think it’s good for the show that we don’t have clarity on those things. It’s more interesting to be surprised how someone might react in a certain situation.
DW: Going into the season finale, were you aware of where they were going with the cliffhanger and the mention of Lucifer’s mother? If not, what was your reaction to it?
TE: I wasn’t aware. My genuine reaction as I got to the last page and read it was, “Whaaaaaaaaat!?!” I was really happy we left it on that note. It was a bit of a shock and it means that the stakes are immediately higher for our characters as we enter season two. It was a shock, but I’m really pleased we went in that direction.
DW: Have they told you who Lucifer’s mother is?
TE: We don’t know yet. I don’t think she’s even been cast. I’m as in the dark as you are.
DW: Going into season two, what would you like to see your character do and change over the course of the season?
TE: It’s been interesting that he is constantly changing. I love that about the character, but one thing I’m very keen to remember is that at the heart of it he is the devil. I like to think of him as a wild animal that is seemingly being tamed, but like with any animal there is a Siegfried & Roy moment around the corner. I’m very keen to keep hold of that as we push forward in season two.
Even though Lucifer didn’t premiere until January of this year, word is that the new series will debut this fall in its usually Monday at 9 PM timeslot on Fox. Season one of Lucifer is now available on DVD / Blu-ray.