Back in October, I traveled with a group of fellow TV writers to the sets of several WB and Fox shows in Vancouver, “the city that doubles for everywhere else” (and yet it’s really beautiful and should be used as itself … but I digress). While there, we were able to speak to the cast of Lucifer, Fox’s upcoming series based on the graphic novel by Mike Casey (though the character originated in Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman). Having seen the pilot and read a little bit about the comics, though, “based on” is a fairly loose term.
Still, for those unfamiliar, this version of the Biblical Lucifer (Tom Ellis) (a.k.a. Satan, the Devil, Beelzebub, etc) is a charmer, and also bored of hell. But what starts, in the TV series, as a vacation to the Earthly realm soon turns into something more. Though Lucifer meets a detective, Chloe (Lauren German) with whom he starts palling around (she is the only woman who can resist his charms), things are complicated by both his friend Mazikeen (Lesley-Ann Brandt), a hell demon who has come with him on the journey and misses home, and his brother-of-sorts, Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside), an angel who wants Lucifer back where he belongs. Lucifer also finds an ally in a therapist, Linda (Rachael Harris), and another foe in the form of Chloe’s ex-husband, Dan (Kevin Alejandro).
The cast explained to us a little but about what motivates Lucifer to leave hell, with Tom Ellis describing it at first as the aforementioned “vacation”:
“He’s like, I’m out of here. I’ll be back when I fancy. I’ll leave you guys to it. [And it’s] grown into a sabbatical that is continually deferred by Lucifer because he is more and more intrigued by this thing and you find out more and more resentful about the role he was given in life. And so that as you can imagine causes some stress points between them and she is caught a dilemma of having to serve her master who she loves and wondering what is best for him.”
Ellis continued that Lucifer’s interactions with Chloe lead him to a crisis of self-discovery, “The disarming of Lucifer in that situation mean he’s now open to feeling things he has never felt before. And that is his existential crisis, because it was very simple for him before that. ”
But, what happens to hell when Lucifer isn’t there? “We allude to the fact that the heavenly order is all out of sync because I’ve decided to play the ultimate selfish card,” Ellis said, while also describing how one of the show’s major serialized elements is Maze and Amenadiel’s desires to get him back to hell. D.B. Woodside noted that his character has had to come down from heaven and be in charge of hell since Lucifer left, and he’s angry and resentful about it. “He’s not one of those stereotypical angels that we see kinda like on someone’s shoulder, or this personification of good,” he said. “He’s the angel that when God has wanted to enact wrath, he sends Amenadiel. When there have been great battles that needed to be won, he sends Amenadiel. So he’s a soldier, and that’s all he knows is war and battle.”
He also explained just how hell is structured on the show:
“All hell is breaking loose! Basically the way it’s been explained to me is you have someone like Lucifer who is in charge of hell, so he’s the warden, the guards, the institution, he is he is all of that. [Now] he’s not there, so inmates are roaming free, and my guess is that they are trying to figure out a way to come back into the present world. And there’s no one down there stopping them, so it’s only a matter of time. And I think that’s Amenadiel’s thing, it’s like there’s a clock on this. So even though our show starts off and Lucifer’s been in Los Angeles for five years, I think that’s our time as far as like there’s no time in Heaven and Hell. I think if we were to break it down, he’s probably just like taking off for about ten minutes you know, and they’re looking around waiting, and no one is being tortured anymore, and so you know, evil spirits, demons, are gonna start to realize that there’s no one around — how do we get out of here? And that’s the big fear for Amenadiel. “
Woodside also said that the relationship between the two starts off as cordial, then turns into a “brotherly spat” before becoming “dangerous.” At that point, “he may feel that he needs to get Lucifer back to hell by any means necessary, even if that means doing things that we don’t typically think an angel would do,” Woodside added. But, the show will also look for some balance, and “take time to reflect on the angelic form of Lucifer’s life,” Ellis said.
Regarding specifics from the comics, though, and what seems like the many changes in tone and character, Ellis replied, “it’s interesting — people that really want this to follow the graphic novel will be disappointed.”
Brandt, who read the comic series, summed up how the show incorperates Maze and the others as, “there’s definitely homage pay to the Mazikeen you know in the books. It’s just this is obviously our version of that character, these three — Amanidiel, Lucifer, and Mazikeen — it’s our version of their stories.” Woodside added, “[the showrunners are] kind of creating their own mythology and that’s become our Bible, per se.” Ultimately, as Ellis puts it, it all comes down to this fact: “Lucifer has daddy issues.”
Lucifer premieres Monday, January 25th on Fox.