Lucifer stars and bosses preview 'unique' family dinner, the musical episode, and more
Tom Ellis, Dennis Haysbert, Kevin Alejandro, and showrunners Joe Henderson and Ildy Modrovich preview season 5B.
Musical performances aren't an unusual occurrence on Lucifer. Most of the time, though, they take the form of Tom Ellis' titular Devil sitting down at the piano and singing a ballad to work through his latest emotional issue or identity crisis. Today, however, there's a different kind of show happening inside Lux, Lucifer's nightclub.
It's January 2020, and EW is on the set of Lucifer's long-awaited musical episode. It's a month or so before the words "pandemic" and "social distancing" will become regular parts of everyone's vocabulary, so Lux is filled to the brim with dancers, background actors, and crew members as star Kevin Alejandro travels from the bar to the dance floor in a musical number meant to convey his character Dan Espinoza's troubled headspace after learning that heaven and hell are very real. "I didn't hit the choreography well," Alejandro says, requesting another take before moving on because he's struggling with the timing between when he stops singing and has to start dancing again. Despite that hurdle, he's beaming the entire time and having fun, as are Ellis and guest star Dennis Haysbert (God), who join the scene later on and observe Dan's melodious meltdown from above.
"This may be my favorite episode of Lucifer ever," a giddy Ellis tells EW between takes. "It's going to be crowd-pleaser."
Thankfully, the aforementioned crowd will finally get to experience it this Friday, when Netflix's fantasy procedural returns for the back half of its fifth and penultimate season, which was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. When we last checked in with the series, Lucifer and Amenadiel (DB Woodside) were in the middle of a brutal brawl with their conniving brother Michael (also Ellis) when the long-absent God descended from the heavens to break up the family squabble. And that's exactly where season 5B picks up.
"The dynamic that it brought to the show and the stuff that we got to do because Dad was there, the stuff we got to talk about because Dad was there, I didn't think we'd ever get to that level on this show," says Ellis in follow-up interview.
Lucifer hasn't seen his father since being cast out of the Silver City all those years ago, so he doesn't take kindly to God's arrival and call for peace."It immediately challenges [Lucifer's growth] because Lucifer immediately recesses," Ellis says. "He storms off, and the next time you see him, he is wasted at Lux [with] blow on the piano and having totally forgotten he's about to tell the detective he loves her."
Yes, God's visit will have a profound effect on Lucifer's burgeoning relationship with Detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German), who has been waiting for him to say he loves her since the season 4 finale.
"So much of the show is Lucifer dealing with love, both his feelings of love towards himself and his feelings of love towards people around him, especially Chloe Decker," says co-showrunner Joe Henderson. "God coming down at quite possibly the worst possible moment, Lucifer on the precipice potentially saying those words, will create a spanner in the works of his arc, but ultimately, perhaps, be exactly what he needs to deal with the emotional issues he's had in his life."
Lucifer and God's relationship may be tense, but the same can't be said for Ellis and Haysbert's dynamic. When Haysbert arrived on set for the musical number in Lux, Ellis immediately gave him tender side hug.
"Every time I talk about [God], the hairs on my arm go up because Dennis Haysbert is just brilliant as a human being and as an actor, and playing the role of Dad on this show," Ellis says.
To prepare for this divine character, Haysbert went back and watched Lucifer from the beginning. "My big comment to the cast when I met them was, 'I just binge-watched the entire series, so I know things that you've forgotten," Haysbert says with a playful laugh.
Playing the aloof creator of the universe was "very challenging," according to the 24 alum. "You ask yourself, if someone is pouring their heart [out] to you and you don't react because you have a plan that they're not privy to, how do you react? That's what you have figure out. He doesn't give up much. He just takes it all in. You can't insult him. You can't hurt his feelings. But I don't approach it without love, and love and light. Everything is about love. I love my sons. I love all the characters I encounter."
Looking to mend his relationships with his three sons, God decides to host a family dinner at Linda's (Rachael Harris) home in the midseason premiere, which Henderson wrote.
"We realized in episode 9 we had an opportunity to take these wonderfully loaded dynamics, including bringing God in, who Lucifer's had tension with for the eternity of the series, and take these big crazy emotions and then shove them into a dinner table scene, which makes this scene of just four actors/five characters talking suddenly so compelling and interesting," Henderson says of the 11-and-a-half-page scene. "I wanted to write a one-act play with four incredibly talented actors and just play with all of those dynamics and toys."
"It's very unique, especially for our show," Ellis says. "It's not just a one-act play, but a one-act play with so much there that needs to be said, or that Lucifer wants to say. And the way Lucifer goes about it, it's very funny to start, and then the wheels start to come off and it starts to implode."
The highly anticipated musical episode is the second episode of the new batch. Co-showrunner Ildy Modrovich has been dying to do a musical installment for most of the show's run, but she and Henderson couldn't find a story-based reason for the characters to break into song until now. "You can imagine in a season where God is our lead guest character that it might have something to do with him," teases Modrovich, who wrote the episode.
"I just felt like I was going back to my theater roots and just had so much fun," Alejandro says of the melodic hour. "I think the most challenging [part was] getting over my insecurity to do it. Just the nerves, they get to you. It was basically, for lack of better words, about balling up and doing my job and having as much fun as I can. And I think once I allowed myself to be like, 'You know what? You can carry it a note, you can move a little bit. Now make yourself move better and sing better,' once I wrapped my head around that mentality, there was no stopping me."
The final eight episodes of Lucifer season 5 arrive Friday on Netflix.