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Tom Welling reveals why he chose Lucifer to make his TV return

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Lucifer will have some competition this year.

When Lucifer returns for season 3, Tom Welling will make his debut as Marcus Pierce (Tom Welling), a devilishly charming police lieutenant who is also a potential love interest for Chloe (Lauren German). How will Lucifer (Tom Ellis) feel about that? Probably not great, to be honest, but Welling is loving it. Below, the Smallville alum dishes on why he chose Lucifer to make his TV return. (Read our interview with Welling about not really suiting up as Superman on Smallville here.)

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was it about Lucifer that made you want to return to TV?
TOM WELLING: So this is going to sound cheesy, but it’s true. I had been in discussions with Fox on two other projects this year that didn’t work out — for one, I was too young and the other one I just wasn’t right for. On a Monday morning, I get a call from my agent and they say, “We have an offer for you for the show called Lucifer to do 10 episodes,” and I was like, “Okay, well, when does it start?” and they said, “Friday.” I was like, “Whoa, hold on a second,” and they go, “But, but, but, it shoots in L.A.,” which is good because I live in L.A. Having spent so much time in Vancouver, the idea of traveling to me isn’t a priority — in a sense, it’s luxury problems.

Anyway, shortly after I got a call from a very dear friend of mine, Greg Beeman, who was our showrunner on Smallville for many years and had directed episodes of Lucifer, and he goes, “I hear that your name’s in the mix to be on Lucifer. I know you, I’ve worked on the show, you’re going to love it, don’t overthink it.” So then I binge-watched about six episodes of the show, because I was familiar with the show, but they were like, “Take a look at these six that we recommend for you to watch, these are our favorites,” and I watched them all, and Wednesday morning the conversation was, “I don’t want to do 10 episodes,” and they said, “Well, you have to do 10, it’s 10 or nothing.” I said, “I want to do more, I want to do 15,” and so we signed on for 15 episodes, because I like it that much, and having met the cast and the crew they’re so much fun. They have a good time, they get their work done, they’re professional, but they’re enjoying themselves. I like the show, the show’s fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but they solve bit crimes and their issues and stuff like that. So I don’t know if that answers your question, but it at least gives you a jumping-off point about how it happened.

Tell us about Marcus as a character.
Well, Marcus, by design, you’re not going to know too much about him. The cliché is you’re going to have to watch to see who he is in the end and it’ll be worth it. At first, he’s a disrupter. At the end of last season, the characters of Lucifer started to get along maybe a little too much and they told me they wanted to bring somebody in to mix it up. He’s definitely going to mix things up between Lucifer and Lauren’s character, Decker, as far as like a love interest possibility sort of thing. But what you’ll find at the end of the season is he is much more of a character and you’re never going to guess who he is, but he’s definitely somebody that Lucifer is going to realize is maybe older than Lucifer, if that makes any sense. I’ll tease that. He’s not God. He’s not God, for sure. He’s not that, but he’s something that you’ll find is very much on par, if not greater, than what Lucifer is.

The description of your character intimated that Lucifer and Marcus had a lot in common. They’re both devilishly charming.
Well, I just did a scene this morning where Decker literally calls me a d—k, so that’s at least how I start out, and that she’s taking the brunt of my d—kish ways. I start out maybe one way, but hopefully I can bring some charm to him later on.

How similar or different is he from Lucifer and how does that cause them to butt heads?
The way that I see it is Lucifer, in some ways, comes in like, [in a mock British accent] “Hey, I’m Lucifer, I’m crazy, and I’m more powerful, I’m the devil, tell me what your desires are.” And Marcus is like, “Yeah, okay, anyway, let’s get the work done.” It’s taking the air out of the room, I think would be the difference. Where Lucifer brings it, he brings the energy to the room, my character sucks it out.

So he’s a little more straight-laced then?
I think so. Yeah, maybe a different goal than Lucifer has, a different global objective as far as the desire from a character point of view. He’s looking for something different than what Lucifer is looking for.

Can you say whether Marcus is good or bad?
Well, every character thinks he’s good, you know what I mean? He’s not necessarily doing bad things, to answer your question. He’s not hurting people necessarily, but definitely if somebody gets in his way, he’ll take them out.

What’s more fun for you to play, the hero or the villain?
Well, right now, the villain. A friend of mine was asking me about the character and he was like, “Oh, so he’s a d—k?” and I was like, “He’s not just a d—k.” He goes, “No, but I see why you’d want to play that character because he’s very much different than what you’ve played for so many years,” and in some ways, that is true. He’s got a different energy, he’s got a different delivery, he’s not so much like open-eyed as far as like, “Oh my gosh, what’s happening?” He’s like “All right, this is what I’m going to do, this is what I’m going to make happen.” So it’s a different energy.

Was that part of the reason that you wanted to come back to TV, doing the complete opposite of Clark Kent?
I definitely didn’t want to play Clark Kent again. The great thing about Clark is he didn’t know who he was and he didn’t know what he was supposed to do with what he had and his abilities. This character very much knows what he’s capable of and knows what he wants to do and knows how to do it. So as much fun as that is to play, it wasn’t necessarily because of Clark that I chose this character. I think it was a number of things, it was the cast, the subject matter, the show, the showrunners, the Greg Beeman recommendation, the location. It was so many more factors than just “I don’t want to play Clark again,” but I’d be lying if I was saying that I’m not enjoying playing something very different for sure.

What can you tease of the dynamic between Chloe and Marcus?
Well, hopefully it just puts everybody on their heels a little bit. At first, it’s not so obvious that there might be an attraction between Decker and Pierce, but it’s hinted in other ways. It’s television, so of course there’s going to be that. I mean, we all expect a little bit of that. But I think wherein most shows somebody just comes in and all of a sudden it’s like, “Oh, they meet at a bar and there’s a new love interest,” it’s almost like the reverse where hopefully you’re not going to see the beginning. It’s not that they’re gazing in each other’s eyes at the beginning. If anything, he’s a very authoritative, demanding boss that just wants results and doesn’t really care what she has to say about anything other than what the case is and what’s going on. The scene this morning was, “Decker, where are we on the case?” And she says, “Yeah, we’re doing this.” I’m like, “Oh, you don’t have any suspects in custody yet?” And she goes, “No,” and his response is, “I thought you’d be further along” and just walks past her. She’s kind of like, “What the f—k, why is he such a d—k?” Things may or may not heat up.

Is this strategic? Maybe he has it out for Lucifer so getting close to Decker is part of his game plan?
Maybe. [Laughs] You’re not sure. The big question that even I had in talking to the showrunners was who is this guy and why is he here? Their answer was awesome. I can’t tell you because it ruins everything, but he’s definitely there for a very specific reason and Lucifer is part of that, Decker is a part of that, but you’ll find out that it’s something even bigger.

Can he be trusted? And does he suspect or know what Lucifer is?
Well, we did a scene last week where my character shows up in Lucifer’s apartment and Lucifer goes, “Oh, finally somebody actually believes that I am who I say I am, I’m the devil himself,” and Pierce says, “No, actually, I’m not crazy, I have no idea why you prance around in that and call yourself the devil, but anyway,” and just sort of moves on. So you don’t know how much Pierce knows or doesn’t know, but you get a sense that he needs a little something from everybody to get what he wants.

Lucifer returns Monday at 8 p.m. ET on Fox. Read our preview with the executive producers here.