So what happens if you’re the Prince of Darkness and you’re bored with your life in Hell? Why not go to LA and help solve crimes! That synopsis really isn’t doing the premise of the story justice though. There’s a lot more to what’s behind Lucifer than meets the eye.
“Lucifer is a weird, fantastically strange mix of humor, darkness, character and action,” explained showrunner Joe Henderson when asked to describe the show. “It’s everything I like in a TV show. They literally put everything I love in a blender and just shook it all up to hell and what we got is a show that scratches every inch that I have. I love it and I hope everyone does to.”
Lucifer is based on the DC comic, which itself was a spinoff from The Sandman comic series. The show naturally will follow it’s own adaptation, but exactly what can we expect from this new show when it premieres on January 26th on Fox?
Back in July at Comic Con, I had the pleasure of talking with four principal cast members and producers of the show to get a good idea of what is behind this quirky tale based on a DC comic series of the same name. Below are the transcripts of those interviews, each giving a brilliant description of exactly what we can expect and why Lucifer looks like one of the more promising new shows of the 2016 winter season.
Joe Henderson – Showrunner, Avid Fan Boy
Our first interview of the day was with new showrunner Joe Henderson, who came on board after the pilot. His enthusiasm for this project reminded me of another favorite showrunner of mine who is an unabashed fan boy, Eric Kripke. Out of all the interviews, this one gave us the best description of what exactly this show is about.
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Joe Henderson, I’m the showrunner of Lucifer. I’m a Sagittarius cusp
So what attracted you to the project?
The pilot. I came on after the pilot was shot. I watched it and it’s very rare you see a pilot that has a fully formed identity. It had a voice, it had a personality, it had humor, it had darkness. I’m a huge comic book nerd, I read Sandman growing up, I read Lucifer before, I read it again in preparation for this. To be able to go on a show that already knew what it was but also came from the roots that I come from, playing with those elements of the fantastical that I love and having to whittle them down into a very grounded show is sort of every wheelhouse of mine combined Voltron style into one.
How much of the comic book will be in the TV show?
I don’t know if you guys have read the comic (but) it’s a tough translation to do. The comic is absolutely amazing cause its grand world, huge ideas. What we’re trying to do is take the idea behind the idea, the soul of the idea and ground it in our world. So the weird answer is a lot of it but very little of it. We’re not going to have a lot of hugely supernatural elements in it, but we will have grounded aspects of it, the spirit of them.
Like there’s this whole wonderful idea in the first book of Lucifer of Lucifer wanting to get freedom from his father. In the comics it becomes this huge thing where he opens a portal to a whole other dimension and becomes God. We’re not going to be able to do that because our show is about a person learning about humanity on earth, but we’re gonna do is play with a guy trying to explore that idea, freedom. Freedom from your father, the freedom to screw up, the freedom to hook up with anyone you want, the freedom to live. So that great idea which works so well in the books, we love that idea and we’re going to do it we’re just going to do it our way.
Is Neil Gaiman at all involved in this?
He is not beyond the fact that he’s voiced his support and has been nothing but wonderful. The fact that I got to email Neil Gaiman was the highlight of my life. I’m a big fan, but he’s busy.
Are you guys able to add any characters from The Sandman into this or will it just be Lucifer?
Right now we’re just doing Lucifer. We haven’t really explored it much. I’m guessing there would be a defining line but for now we just consciously decided to play with the characters in our sandbox.
If you were to describe the show would you call it a procedural with a twist or would it be more of an arc with a procedural twist?
I would an arc with a procedural twist. It’s a character driven show with a procedural backbone. It’s weird because we’re almost trying to avoid procedural and call it a mystery of the week instead of a case of the week, because it won’t always necessarily be a case. Some situations will come from Lucifer’s end, some from Chloe’s. I think the fun of it is, what we’ll work backwards from, is what is the situation that will illustrate the differences between these two characters in interesting ways. And the fact that Lucifer has this world that he exists in of favors and powers in the time that he’s existed in LA is something we really want defined.
For those unfamiliar with the comics, how do you make a show about Lucifer. Is he the bad guy, who’s more evil than Lucifer?
Ah, good question. What we’ve been finding which I think is so exciting about the show is Lucifer is a redemption story. What we’re sort of finding is Lucifer explore other types of redemption in other people who on their surface might look evil but might have surprising goodness to them or some people on the surface who aren’t who they are. One of things that’s so fancy about Lucifer is he’s always called the King of Lies, but actually in our version and in the comic version he doesn’t lie. He’s a guy who tells the truth. Lies diminish us and Lucifer would never ever diminish himself so he tells the truth, he’s the ultimate truth teller. He attacks hypocrisy, that’s the evil that he especially goes after and that’s the fun of it because that’s the one thing I think we all absolutely can agree is something we all hate.
Do you have a message for viewers as they get ready to watch Lucifer?
Yes, Lucifer is a weird, fantastically strange mix of humor, darkness, character and action. It’s everything I like in a TV show. They literally put everything I love in a blender and just shook it all up to hell and what we got is a show that scratches every inch that I have. I love it and I hope everyone does to.
Tom Ellis – or Mr. Morningstar to you!
Welsh actor Tom Ellis was cast in the role of Lucifer, and when we talked to him he captured the attention of the female interviewers at the table. He definitely has the look of the gorgeous leading man! He talks what we need to know about his character Lucifer and how he managed to score this unique part.
Let’s talk about Lucifer. Who is he to you?
He is the son of God, essentially. It’s quite interesting as we explore the series the daddy issues that come up. He’s a guy who used to thinking that he knows everything, and everything is doable and everything’s possible. I think what he hasn’t counted on is the kind of osmosis of becoming human. Developing things like feelings and emotions. We find a guy that everyone that thinks they know who’s on a path to redemption that he never thought he was going to have. That’s serious to me.
In discovering this range of emotions, does he get angry or is he very measured?
I would say he’s normally quite measured. Emotions didn’t start to his character (until) the pilot are new things to him that I don’t think he can comprehend what they are. He just knows that he feels a bit different. The only way which he knows to manifest himself is “I need to punish someone, I need to punish something.” So that wets his appetite for solving this case in the pilot. His sense of fun is the thing drives him forward in life for sure.
What makes you the perfect prince of darkness?
(Laughs). I’ll tell you what, it’s quite worrying. When I got the job, and I was telling several friends of mine that I had gotten this job, “Oh, you’re perfect.” I was like, “What? What do you mean?” I think for me, I enjoy playing characters that are kind of dicks essentially, kind of not very nice, do deplorable things, but somehow you still love them. It’s always fun to do that as an actor, you can hopefully get it right and people respond to it. People love an anti-hero.
There’s a lot of levity in the character and in the series. Is that something that carries throughout or that going to vary episode by episode?
I think it will vary from episode to episode. We’re going to explore this journey that he’s on. A person who makes this journey very interesting for him is the character of Chloe, because she’s the first person he’s ever encountered who his powers don’t work on. Getting to the bottom of that is something that he needs to work out and getting to the bottom of who he is is something she needs to work out. It will have sort of procedural elements to the show because of the job that she does but it’s not going to turn a procedural cop show. There will be elements of that but I think the fun of the show is to be had through exploring these characters.
Did you say your powers are gone?
He’s immortal. We talked a lot about the mythology and what powers and superpowers this guy has. Its kind of an innocent one that he has in many ways. His power is to drawing out everyone’s deepest, darkest desires. That’s the whole point he keeps trying to make. Everyone thinks that he’s evil and makes people do evil things but he’s like, “I don’t do anything. You guys do it. All I’m doing right now is getting out of you what is in there anyway.” Free will, it’s all of us.
But he can’t die.
He can’t die…yet. (Laughs)
How many episodes have you shot so far?
We’ve done the pilot and we’re about to start the season. We’ve got 12 more episodes to shoot so it will be a 13 episode season for this season.
What did you do to prepare for the role of Lucifer? Did you get to read the comics or something like that?
Interestingly, the script was brilliant. I loved it. I’m not…(pauses says quietly) I’m not a big comic book fan, haven’t been in my life. I used what we had in the script. There was loads of stuff in there that I kind of drew on. For example, I’m big into music. I love music. There was a lot of musical suggestions in the script. Opening to such and such and then this tracks kicks in while we moved to here. It was really clear about what the type of music was. I love to create a playlist for myself when for I’m working and preparing a character. To take on stuff that the character might listen to or stuff I think might be in the soundtrack. It’s almost like a brainstorm but of music. So that’s a big thing for me.
D.B. Woodside – Send Us An Angel
I was pretty surprised to see D.B. Woodside in front of me, not that I minded because he is so personable. This is just a guy I’ve been watching on TV for years! I didn’t think this was his type of show, a genre fantasy based on a comic, but he explains why he took the part and what we can expect from his heavenly role as an angel.
So you play an angel.
Yes I do.
Are you a nice angel?
Well, I don’t think nice is the word for him. I would say he’s a very intense angel, a warrior angel, I think he has a very narrow focus. I think he feels he has one task to do and Lucifer’s making that extremely difficult. I don’t think he likes being rejected and I don’t think he likes being turned down. Especially for him, he feels like this is something that’s extremely valuable. He is right, ultimately he is right, but how they go about solving that problem will be exciting to watch.
If you’re an angel and you’re still connected to Heaven, are you still having brawls, intense conversations, what’s that relationship like?
Right now it’s probably some intense conversation because in our world we are brothers. I believe there has been a degree of love there. But I think that onset of our father with one task in mind and it’s very important. It super-cedes our relationship. What he believes (is) this natural boundary in the world and something that is necessary. I think there’s a little bit there but it’s a very strange relationship right now.
So Lucifer runs a nightclub. Does the angel have an earth job right now?
Right now, no. Lucifer has fully setup his life in Los Angeles for the past five years. Amenadiel is still going back and forth. He’s still kind of invisible among the world of religion and humans while Lucifer is not. That also why Amenadiel’s powers are greater right now because he has a direct line to God. Lucifer is somewhat cutoff. The only thing he can do is go back to Hell and do what he was sent there to do. The longer he stays in Los Angeles, the weaker his extraordinary powers become.
In the trailer I see your character decked out. How much of that is CGI and how much is that you actually wearing something?
The only CGI are the wings, everything else is a costume. It was actually a lot of fun. It was different, the dress could be cold, but I think as he starts coming into the world of LA more he’s going to have to rethink his fashion sense. He’s going to have to blend in more. I’m excited to see what Amenadiel’s style would be. Hopefully something a little more retro.
When you read this, what said, “Oh yes, that’s me.”
I’ve been saying to a few other people but I’ve been real lucky to work for some time, but the bulk of my roles have been guys in suits, really brainy guys. I’m born and raised in upstate in New York, I love nature and being outdoors, and that’s pretty far from what I do now. When I read this script there’s a certain physicality that he had that I just love and it’s actually closer to my personality. I’m looking forward to doing that kind of physical stuff. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
Len Wiseman – Director, Producer, Writer Extraordinaire
Len Wiseman recently made a splash in genre TV as a producer and writer on the first season of Sleepy Hollow, as well as the recent Underworld films. Now he’s back again in genre TV on Lucifer. He directed the pilot and is one of the writers on the show as well as an executive producer. He talks about what attracted him to this project, how TV is different from feature films and what to expect from this recent comic book adaptation.
So you directed the first episode?
Yes, the pilot.
What exactly did you know about it?
I was sent a first draft that I fell in love with the version of The Devil. The character was unlike any portrayal of the Devil that I’d seen so far and we’d seen a lot of them. It was the first time that I’ve seen the Devil not trying to hide. I guess that’s the simplest way to put it. He’s just stating it as it is and if you ask him he’ll tell you and what are you going to do? Ultimately, what are you really going to do? That’s where the fun and the weirdness comes from. It’s very different for me. I always wanted to do a comedy and just try that out. It’s what I wanted to do at the time and have fun doing that.
You’re predominantly a feature director. Is there any difference between shooting a pilot and a feature?
I think it’s very different. It’s much faster. I thought I would change the way I shoot from a movie. I don’t think you can really change the way you shoot, you just do what you do really, really, really fast. It’s different but I love that you get to see right away what’s happening. To me it feels like real time. By the time doing pilot and getting to see it, you know we just watched it in there today and shot two months ago, while a movie is two years and you can sit and focus on it so much that when you see it you’re tired of it, so it’s very different.
What do you think viewers are really going to relate to with the character of Lucifer?
I hope they’re going to relate to what I saw as ultimately a father and son story. And that really is, take away all the Devil aspect, the God, the clan, pre-destination, everything, it’s ultimately a character who’s rebelling and saying, “Father doesn’t love me and that really pisses me off and I’m going to do everything I can to upset him.” So the father/son sort of therapy session that’s taking place over this series.
Are there going to be any things you’re not going to do, for example, you’re not showing the Father ever?
I want to make sure it doesn’t go too far into genre. I think it becomes closer to things that we’ve seen before. What’s special about is that it is much more of a grounded, real take. It makes it unique and I’d like to keep that. There’s hints of it, you’ll see Amendiel’s wings show up and things like that. Ultimately I’d like to keep it in it’s own arena.
Adapting from comic books is a very, very popular thing these days. It seems any new TV show is intellectual property of something else. How committed are you to sticking with the original comic book as opposed to veering away from that?
I’m probably answering in a way that is wrong. To me, I’ve gone through it a few times now and it’s all about just what makes the best story, what makes the best script. Characters from a comic book or a video game are different from characters you’re watching on a screen. In different mediums you fill in the gaps in certain areas yourself, which you don’t do when watching a movie. I’m for what makes the most interesting character at the end of the day.
Lesley-Ann Brandt – She’s Just A Devil Woman
If there’s gonna be an angel on the show, there better be a demon! The role of Mazikeen, aka Maze, went to South African Lesley-Ann Brandt. Sounds like her character is going to be up for a little hell raising, which is exactly what we’d hope with this show.
So you place Maze?
I play Maze, Mazikeen.
Who is Maze?
Well, she is a demon who has followed her boss and best friend to earth after he decided to leave Hell in the hopes that they’ll be there a little while and they would come back. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. She wants to get back to Hell.
So not a fan of Earth I take it.
Well, I think when she came she thought, “This will be exciting, I’ll get to have a little Hell on earth and play with these little human being things.” Instead she’s working behind the bar and having as much fun as she can but I think she’s bored now. And also watching her boss, this man, Lucifer Morningstar, becoming less and less who he is and becoming affected by humanity, which is a problem for her.
So you’ll be kind of a foil to him?
No, I think I’ll always be devoted to Lucifer, but I’m also devoted to the bigger picture, the greater good, which is getting him back to Hell. There will be a conflict between Mazikeen and Lucifer I think for sure, especially with the introduction of Lauren’s character Chloe. She represents something that Maze isn’t, she’s not a human being, she doesn’t affect him the way Chloe does and she’s perplexed. She doesn’t know why that is. You may or may not see Maze and Amendiel teaming up. They still won’t like each other, it’s not like they’re going to become best friends. He’s an angel, I’m a demon. He wants good, I want to torture souls. Plain and simple.
So Lucifer is a human with abilities but Maze is fully a demon.
Well Lucifer is a full on angel. I don’t know how human he is when he starts this series but he becomes more human. Maze is a demon. I am the daughter of Lilith, the mother of all demons. I eventually lead the army in the Lucifer comic book series. When I’m introduced, not in the show but in the comic book, I have a half face and it’s demonic, the other half is human and by accident my face is healed. That’s where you pick me up in the show. I’m in this human form that I hate. I don’t think I particularly look best when I look like a human being. I want to be a demon. At my core me I am an evil soul, destroying, torturing demon.
What kind of research do you have to do to play a demon? Did you go deep in the mythology?
I didn’t go too deep into the mythology. There’s a lot of comic book to get through, they’re chunky. I was like, “Wait, what, I thought this was like skinny little Superman ones.” That’s what’s cool about the Vertigo comics, it’s more dark and it’s kind of like a book and a novel. The character in a weird way, take away the demon aspect of it, I relate to her in a lot of ways. She’s a strong woman, she’s very devoted and loyal, qualities that I think I possess as a female myself. So you kind of draw on what you know, but she’s just set in this fantastical world. So I’ve read the books…reading the books.
What’s coming up for Maze in an upcoming episode?
I have no idea.
What do you hope for?
I hope she gets to kick ass. I hope Chloe and her get to really investigate each other. I think you’re going to find a little bit of her trying to figure this woman out. I’d hope Amenadiel and Maze to go at Matrix style.
Lauren German – Hold Us Closer Chloe Dancer (I know, that’s a terrible tag line)
Our last interview of the day was with Lauren German, fresh off her stint on Chicago Fire and ready to tackle a new project. Lauren was sweet and a joy to meet, and she also wins the Jared Padalecki award for talking really fast during an interview. She crammed a lot of words into our short time together! I did appreciate her taking time at the end to address the religious criticism that the show had gotten back at Comic Con only because of its choice for main character. Her plea was simple, give the show a chance.
Tell us about your character.
I play detective Chloe Dancer. She’s kind of an average, All-American girl. I think one of the funny things about my character is very young she wanted to be actress. She got a part in a nude film, so she got naked and everyone recognizes her from being the naked girl in this movie. She saw that her acting character was going nowhere so she decides to become a cop. Her whole story is wanting to do a good job and also fighting to be taken seriously. There’s elements of like it’s a little harder for women as it is but then add on top you’ve been in a naked movie and everybody knows it. I kind of like actually playing that story line. It’s a little funny but I think people can relate to it. We’ve all done something, like “Aww, come on.” It’s relatable.
How much were you aware of the comic?
None. I just didn’t have comic books in my household and none of my friends did, but I loved the big movies – Superman, Batman. I just came off Chicago Fire when I got the Lucifer script. I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I wanted to do something a little different. Script after script after script and I read Lucifer and it’s the first one where I never set it down. Not like it had mad crazy but I was like “Oh my God, it’s good,” but I was laughing and the heavy parts were done well and I was like “This is what I want to do.” Since then I’ve done a little catch up research on the comic books but almost it’s such a different show and everyone put that out there. We’re not trying to be the comic and they know that and we know that. I think that gets us off the hook. We’re not doing a documentary on the comic books. I don’t think we’ll disappoint the hard core fans and the fans that are open to seeing our homage to it, that’s what they’ll get.
Is your character very early on aware that he’s the Prince of Darkness?
No, no, no. Honestly. His best human friend passes away and I’m the detective on the case, that’s how I meet Lucifer. From the beginning I’m just completely creeped out by him. He’s pushy, he’s annoying, he’s loud, he’s horny. I’m like, “Go away, you’re so creepy.” So I think at first, “Who’s this fruit loop on my crime scene,” and as I get to know him, as much as I hate to admit it, “Wait, wait, what he just said is really perceptive, he’s really sharp, he’s really bright, he’s annoying as hell but wait, there’s something to that,” and I listen and go along with it. By the end of the pilot is clearly has some skill at the very least, some psychic skill, some omniscient thing going on. And then something happens where it’s like, “Wait, what happened there.” I get hurt in the show. So I think as we go along you’ll see me questioning him. “What’s going on, what’s happening?” We haven’t gotten there yet but we will.
You have a message for the viewers as they get ready to watch?
Oh, uh, “Hi, how are you, how’s your day going?” (Laughs) No, I think our show is a good mix of procedural, if you’re in that, I just came off a procedural show and I love doing that, but for it was also have these moments of levity and to laugh. I don’t think our show takes itself too seriously. We are what we are. I just think there’s great freedom in that and our writers are so awesome. I think we’re going to try to have fun and be something different.
Also, to the religious fans, you have to honor everyone’s beliefs, but I think if you are religious just possibly give our show a try. I do think that it won’t be what people are expecting. It’s not glorifying The Devil, it’s more of a human story and within all of us how we struggle with right and wrong, what we’ve done in our past, how we want to be, and how we struggle with good and bad. I would say just keep an open mind.
Here’s the official description from Fox:
The Devil has come to Los Angeles…
Based upon the characters created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth and Mike Dringenberg for DC Entertainment’s Vertigo imprint, LUCIFER is the story of the original fallen angel. Bored and unhappy as the Lord of Hell, LUCIFER MORNINGSTAR (Tom Ellis, “Merlin”) has abandoned his throne and retired to L.A., where he owns Lux, an upscale nightclub.
Charming, charismatic and devilishly handsome, Lucifer is enjoying his retirement, indulging in a few of his favorite things – wine, women and song – when a beautiful pop star is brutally murdered outside of Lux. For the first time in roughly 10 billion years, he feels something awaken deep within him as a result of this murder. Compassion? Sympathy? The very thought disturbs him – as well as his best friend and confidante, MAZIKEEN aka MAZE (Lesley-Ann Brandt, “The Librarians”), a fierce demon in the form of a beautiful young woman.
The murder attracts the attention of LAPD homicide detective CHLOE DANCER (Lauren German, “Chicago Fire”), who initially is dismissive of Lucifer. But she becomes intrigued by his talent for drawing out people’s secrets and his desire to dispense justice, doling out punishment to those who deserve it. As they work together to solve the pop star’s murder, Lucifer is struck by Chloe’s inherent goodness. Accustomed to dealing with the absolute worst of humanity, Lucifer is intrigued by Chloe’s apparent purity and begins to wonder if there’s hope for his own soul yet.
At the same time, God’s emissary, the angel AMENADIEL (DB Woodside, “Suits,” “24”), has been sent to Los Angeles to convince Lucifer to return to the under- world…can the Devil incarnate be tempted toward the side of Good, or will his original calling pull him back toward Evil?
Lucifer premieres on January 26th at 9pm on FOX, right after the new six episode limited return of The XFiles.