Lucifer star Tom Ellis previews his turn as the Devil's brother Michael in season 5
Tom Ellis looks very unlike himself on the set of Lucifer this mid-December afternoon. As the Netflix drama's titular Devil, the actor usually has on a perfectly-tailored suit, frequently a three-piece. Today, however, he's wearing an ill-fitting brown tweed blazer, a flimsy gray turtleneck, and loose blue chinos — and Ellis isn't a fan of the look at all. But that's also the point because right now he's not getting ready to go shoot scenes as Lucifer. He's actually portraying Lucifer's twin brother Michael.
"Michael’s wardrobe [includes] the most disgusting flat-footed loafers I’ve ever seen," says Ellis with a laugh while sitting in his office on the Warner Bros. lot. "He loves a turtleneck, somehow. And he’s also heavily into tweed."
Arriving Friday, the first eight episodes of Lucifer's bifurcated fifth season find Ellis pulling double duty as both the charming and seductive Lucifer and the conniving Michael, who are nothing alike. While Michael's sartorial choices leave much to be desired, they do help Ellis get into character.
"With the characters, I wanted to make them poles apart," notes Ellis. "Obviously, Lucifer is a stylish man. I thought Michael was the equivalent of someone who just doesn't look after himself and doesn't really think about his wardrobe. If he had a computer, he'd spend all of his time behind it just trolling the internet [with a handle like] @BitterAngel."
When the season begins, Lucifer is still lording over the damned in Hell while Detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German) — who professed her love for him before he went down under in the season 4 finale — is heartbroken topside. As the season 5 trailer revealed, though, Michael takes a page out of his brother's playbook and visits Earth while he's away — except his intentions are much more sinister. "I'm not going to break Lucifer's life. I'm going to take it," says the American-accented Michael in the trailer.
While juggling both parts was rather difficult, it also gave Ellis a bit of an adrenaline rush, too. "There used to be a show called Challenge Anneka in the U.K., which [followed] this woman who had to build a convent or nunnery or school in two days and get everyone's help in the community. I just feel like that running around all the time, but it's fun," says Ellis.
He continues: "I’ve had to sort of learn a different process because I have to switch on and off, and back in and out of different characters, so quickly. So, I’ve just had to find shortcuts for myself, which is a lot of the reason why I wanted to make Michael different — [especially] the way that he is physically." Thankfully, the script also helped him figure out Michael's physicality, and you see a hint of it in the trailer.
According to the showrunners, all of Ellis' work has definitely paid off. "In the table reads, when Tom has to play Lucifer and Michael, it's amazing because he's literally doing the, 'sister!' 'mother!' 'sister!' [thing]. But you're also in the scene. You're staying with him because he's grounding it," co-showrunner Joe Henderson previously told EW. "Tom makes what he does look so effortless that I think this season will remind people just how hard it is everything he does."
The first eight episodes of Lucifer season 5 arrive Friday, Aug. 21 on Netflix.
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