What does the devil do when confronted with the idea of human morality? Fox’s new series, Lucifer, follows the exploits of Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis), who has become bored with life in Hell and come to Los Angeles. Based on the Vertigo comic of the same name, the Fox series mixes a quirky, charming attitude revolving around the adventures of the devil living on Earth while learning a bit about what it’s like to be human as well.
Showrunner Joe Henderson, who jumped on the series for the second episode, recently finished filming the first season of the show and took the time to talk to us about the character, the comic, and the attention the show has gotten, which hasn’t all been good.
GameSpot: What’s going on in the first season of the show?
Joe Henderson: Right out of the pilot, we have dual mysteries. Lucifer is trying to figure out why Detective Chloe Dancer is unaffected by his devilish ways while everyone else in humanity is. Why is she different? Meanwhile, Chloe is trying to figure out why Lucifer has a way with people and survived getting shot six times in the pilot.
Our first driving mystery is a two-pronged thing of our two main characters trying to figure each other out. That gets us through a number of episodes, but we’re not dragging that throughout the entire season. We’re going to resolve that in a couple episodes or at least bring it to a head and then star unpeeling other mysteries. We got a four-parter, a two-parter, and a sort of six-parter going on to give a sense that you don’t know when a story is going to end and give some variety to the season.
That’s one of the interesting things about this show. Aside from these two characters trying to figure each other out, at the end of episode two, we’re starting to see to see this is less about the devil being on Earth and more about what morality is and there’s a hint of cognitive dissonance within Lucifer. Is this something you’ll explore further as the series goes on?
That is the sweet spot of every episode, and I’m stealing “cognitive dissonance” as a phrase for it because that’s exactly what it is. It’s him seeing things in humanity that reflect on himself or seeing things in humanity that he doesn’t realize reflects on himself. In every episode, we found a way to reflect Lucifer in the person or the person in Lucifer, and in Chloe.
To me, that’s the bread and butter because you can have shows about the “case of the week” happening in the world, but what we get to do is explore “what is humanity to the devil? What is an emotional arc for this person, based on the comics starting point? Is just a rebellious son who wanted what his dad had? What is that very relatable character written large and written as the greatest villain as all time dealing with his personal issues as reflected in what he encounters.
For people who haven’t gotten into the show, who are familiar with the Vertigo comic, what are the major differences between the show and the comic?
The differences are pretty large, when it comes to the world and when it comes to where the stories go. Where it falls into a nice similarity is the character Lucifer. It’s the son that wants what his dad had and also wants to do it differently than his dad did. That was a huge part of Mike Carey’s run. That’s why he created a splinter universe, in the books. It’s a huge part of the Sandman book, when he just gives the key to Morpheus and walks away. To me, that’s the really exciting part.
Now, we’re not going to be going to other dimensions or have Lucifer creating other dimensions. We’re not going to be doing all that crazy, awesome, brilliant stuff from the comics, but what we will do is take those themes and bring them down into our Los Angeles.
You’re taking the source material, but keeping it very grounded. Do you find that to be a challenge because of what’s happened in Mike Carey’s world, what Neil Gaiman has done, and just the scope for everything?
It opens up story because it allows us to take a big idea and try to pare it down. Once it’s pared down, go “OK. What’s our story to be told?” I feel like Neil and Mike told these stories in a way I wouldn’t want to try and replicate because they did such a great job, and we’re just going to look like fan service. If we take the themes and explore out, we can tell a new story, and hopefully, we’re paving a new ground on our own.
Speaking of fan service, considering that Lucifer is part of the DC Universe and appeared in other comic series, are there going to be any familiar faces popping up in the show?
With season one, we made a very conscious decision to just focus on our characters you see in the pilot, at least from the supernatural world. Moving forward, if we’re lucky enough to move forward, we want to expand that. I, personally, don’t know how to do it, but I want to get Gaudium in, the gargoyle/cherub character who, to me, is the scene-stealer of Lucifer. I don’t know what he’ll look like, I don’t know what the human version of him is. Is that the direction we go? I know once we figure it out, we’ll have a great character to play with.
There are different worlds within the show, Amenadiel and Lucifer’s consort, Mazikeen both coming from other worlds. How much more supernatural stuff can we expect and at the same time, how do you keep the balance between that and the police procedural aspect?
Yeah, that’s the trick of the show, and it’s the line that has been the hardest and most fun thing to walk. Too much and you become a whole different show. Too little and it becomes a show I don’t want to watch either. I like those elements of the fantastical. I like the fact we got to do a showdown where Lucifer solved a problem by bringing down Amenadiel and turning everything into slow motion. That’s our challenge, to find the fantastical and embed it in our world. Some episodes will be a bit more fantastical and others will be more grounded and just have a touch of it. To a similar extent, where you’d have varying episodes. Some of which would go in crazy directions and some would go very dark, but it was always the same show. That’s something we’re playing with, some episodes will be funnier and others darker and then we’ll have our mythological episodes that will pay off we’re building. The big thing I’ll say is none of our episodes stand alone. Everything builds to something. I love serialized storytelling and we take it very seriously. It’s all building to a whole and what we think is a pretty awesome conclusion.
How did you find Tom Ellis for this role, who plays Lucifer? He brings an immense amount of charm to the role.
He is so good. Here’s what I realized. He gives the devil soul, and that’s what’s so interesting about it. As funny as he is and as charming as he is, there’s emotion and pain behind everything he does, intentionally. Even though he’s saying horrible things or doing these silly things, there’s a humanity to everything he does which is completely irreplaceable.
I came on after he was cast, but I remember seeing him in Rush and remember saying “I don’t know who is going to get that actor next, but they’re going to have a hit show on their hands.” When they approached me with the show and told me the lead, I was like “Yes, please. I will take that.”
What can we expect between the dynamic of Mazikeen and Lucifer as the season goes on because there’s already a bit of tension between the two?
The thing about Mazikeen is she’s the devil on the Devil’s shoulder. So you’ve got Chloe who is like the angel on his shoulder. The one fighting for justice and to take out bad guys and Mazikeen who represents Lucifer’s old life, which is “embrace your desire and have fun.” Not to say Lucifer has walked away from all that but he’s tip-toed away and that’s thrown off everything she’s enjoyed. They’ve been having the greatest party of their lives and now, she’s starting to see Lucifer distracted by this bright, shiny object. The dynamic is going to be a lot of her figuring out “how do I bring him back to the devil I knew? The devil I followed out of the gates of Hell and to what levels I’ll go to keep him there and bring him back.”
One of my favorite things, for all the wrong reasons, is recently the group “One Million Moms” called for a boycott of the show. When that happened, did you say to yourself “we made it?”
[Laughs] Listen, the real truth of it is that it’s sad when people boycott something without actually having seen it. The serious part of it is that it’s unfortunate. I don’t mind someone judging me after seeing what we’ve done, but having this knee-jerk reaction of a show that I think has a very Christian message to it, which is “anyone can be redeemed.” What a lovely thing to get out there. I guess the question is “can anyone be redeemed” and the devil is exploring it. It’s hard to think of a more Christian message than that, but instead they twist it to this knee-jerk thing. More power to them on that. I hope they watch they show and I hope they change their minds on that. Until then, it’s fun to watch.