Hell, High Water and COVID-19: Tom Ellis Talks Lucifer in Emmy®
Making one of history’s most reviled characters charming and relatable was a task only Tom Ellis could accomplish with a devilish smile. Emmy, the award winning official publication of the Television Academy that hits newsstands today, Aug. 21, talks with the Lucifer star about the challenges of bringing the Prince of Darkness to life and the surprise renewal for a sixth season.
The cast of Lucifer had to overcome many hurdles before production was called to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including moving production from Los Angeles to Vancouver for season two. Executive producer Ildy Modrovich says, “They were quite bummed for a while; but in retrospect, it was the best thing for the show. Everybody got a new level of closeness. It was like going away to camp.” The show returned to L.A. for season three, only to be canceled by Fox. Coshowrunner/executive producer Joe Henderson credits Ellis for saving the show. “Tom put his actorly reputation on the line,” says Henderson. “He basically said, ‘This is a show that I believe in. This is what I’m going to fight for.'” The commitment from Ellis, coupled with the worldwide fan base, led to the series being picked up by Netflix for season four. “I didn’t realize how vocal they’d be or how many people would speak up,” Ellis remembers. “Witnessing the reaction was the most uplifting experience I’ve had as an actor.”
In the cover story “From These Roots,” Ellis talks about Netflix’s decision to extend season five from 10 episodes to 16, which gave the team the opportunity to do things that they hadn’t done before. “We thought, ‘This is going to be the end,’” Ellis says. “We had a few boxes that we wanted to check, things we hadn’t done. It’s funny, sad—everything that Lucifer is—but supersized.”
As fans anticipate the release of the first half of season five on Aug. 21, Ellis has taken the time to reflect on how the show has evolved to deliver such a positive message. “We set out to tell an entertaining story about this character. But I guess the subject matter and the size of the characters—and what that means, what that reflects in society—we didn’t really think about that,” observes Ellis. “Pastors have contacted me to say they use the show for sermons or in talks to groups to illustrate points. They see beyond the surface that everyone is scared of. They see the deeper issues. Even though it’s about the devil, our show has a really good message. It’s about people taking responsibility for themselves and their actions and trying to accept everyone around them.”
The series was a week away from wrapping production before cameras stopped rolling in mid-March. Between missing his daughters and the draining film schedule, Ellis admits, “I was so naked at that point. It’s been a very full-on season for lots of reasons. I love the British expression ‘I was on my knees.’ I was looking forward to seeing my kids and that perfect tonic in my life. Then it stopped.”
In the meantime, Ellis found solace in spending quality time with his new wife, actress-writer Meaghan Oppenheimer. “My wife and I are so used to being on the go all the time,” says Ellis. “So, we were forced into a place where we spent time with each other—quality time with each other. That, in the first year of a marriage, is a real gift. If I hadn’t had my wife with me, I really would have gone insane. That’s a silver lining I can cling to.”
Additional feature highlights from the new issue include:
● In “Judgment Call,” emmy speaks with showrunner Eric Kripke about his twisted take on the real-world inspiration for Amazon’s The Boys and the chaos that is coming in its second season.
● S. Epatha Merkerson is known for her roles as a sensible, competent, takecharge women who doesn’t tolerate nonsense. In “What They Like About Epatha,” Merkerson tells emmy about her long-standing partnership with producer Dick Wolf and her return to Broadway.
● A Black Lady Sketch Show was created to celebrate Black women in comedy while recognizing the lack of representation in professional settings. “Lady Drivers” talks with creator/executive producer/writer/star Robin Thede about the historic importance of the HBO show.
Emmy, the official publication of the Television Academy, goes behind the scenes of the industry for a unique insider’s view. It showcases the scope of television and profiles the people who make TV happen, from the stars of top shows to the pros behind the cameras, covering programming trends and advances in technology. Honored consistently for excellence, emmy is a six-time Maggie Award winner as Best Trade Publication in Communications or the Arts and has collected 52 Maggies from the Western Publishing Association. Emmy is available on selected newsstands and at TelevisionAcademy.com for single print and digital copies as well as subscriptions.