In Part 2 of our exclusive interview with actor/director Kevin Alejandro, he talks more about his work on Netflix’s LUCIFER as LAPD detective Daniel Espinosa, what he’s learned from real-life police officers, and his directing work on both the series and his award-winning short film BEDTIME STORY.
ASSIGNMENT X: A lot of your characters are people in law enforcement. I mean, you did LUCIFER and you did SOUTHLAND for a couple of seasons, and you’ve played police detectives in other things. Do you think there’s something about you that makes people go, “Aha, police detective”?
KEVIN ALEJANDRO: I think so. It’s funny, just on the street, I used to randomly get asked, “Are you a police officer? Are you from the military? You seem like you’d be a military or police officer guy.” So I think I kind of carry maybe a typical look around. In the industry, I’ve been fortunate enough to play these guys, and trained with different levels of the police academy – the New York Police Department, the Los Angeles Police Department, and go on ride-alongs and fly-alongs and those kinds of things. I’ve formed a really great respect for our law enforcement men and women, and realized that they’re just as scared as we are, but they’ve chosen the position of the hero to protect us. And they are outnumbered – there are way more bad guys than there are good guys, and at the end of the night, they’re family men and women, too, and their motto is, “I go home tonight, so I will do everything I can to protect you, but I’m also going to protect myself, because I want to go home.” I just have so much respect for them and what they do.
AX: Was that the most valuable thing you learned from the real police?
ALEJANDRO: I’m not sure if it’s the most valuable thing, but it’s definitely one that I carry with me, and why I respect them so.
AX: Are there other things that you’ve learned that have been valuable in your work?
ALEJANDRO: I’m fortunate to have already had such a great run and been part of many cool experiences. The beauty of what we do as actors is, we get to have moments, genuine moments, for a lengthy amount of time and make amazing relationships. And I think within each relationship, and within each experience, and each project, whether it be the directing or the writing or the producing or the acting, there’s always a lesson that I take from each one. And I think it’s the same with any career. We learn every day. We learn from a mistake, or from a win. And I think the moment that you stop looking at those situations and aren’t recognizing that you’re taking something positive, or taking a lesson from it, then it’s time to change and be challenged again. And fortunately, for me, I take good, positive experiences from almost everything I’ve been able to do.
AX: You directed a short film, BEDTIME STORY, which is about a novelist, played by Patrick Fischler, who writes a book so boring that his agent, played by Tricia Helfer, is able to market it as a best-selling sleep aid. How did you come up with that concept?
Did you do BEDTIME STORY before or after you started directing for LUCIFER?
ALEJANDRO: I did it before. I had been shadowing several of my favorite directors on our show, and then had learned about the Warner Brothers Directors Program. I have a YouTube channel called Alejandro Films that I decided to put up to challenge myself to learn as much as I can about filmmaking and storytelling, and also challenge myself not to have to spend money to do it. So I shot on my iPhone, and iPad, and this old JVC camcorder that I have, and I would just write little stories and put together little short films. [Those were] the only thing I had on my plate to submit to the Warner Brothers Directors Program, and they saw potential in me, and I was grateful to be accepted.
And so I went through the program, and through the program, I had learned that LUCIFER was going to give me the opportunity to direct one of our episodes. And of course, I was ecstatic, but also terrified, because I hadn’t done it at any high level. So luckily, during this time is when Adrian Cunningham, the writer, sent me over this [BEDTIME STORY] script, and I was like, “I think we can do this.” So we put together what we could as far as finances were, and we rented some better cameras, and got a decent-sized crew together, and I did BEDTIME STORY as a challenge to myself, but also as my first practice before I went and took on something at the level of LUCIFER. It proved to do exactly what I thought it would do, which is show me some mistakes and help me learn from them – and, in the process, won a lot of awards.
AX: Your BEDTIME STORY cast contains a lot of actors who work in genre. Obviously, you’ve worked with Tricia Helfer, who played Charlotte on LUCIFER, but did you meet the others at Comic-Con or some other convention and go, “Someday I’d like to work with you,” “Hey, I’m making a short, you want to be in it?”, or how did you come to cast all those people?
ALEJANDRO: I’m even luckier than that. All those people are my friends [laughs]. Patrick Fischler and I did SOUTHLAND together. Henry Simmons [now on MARVEL’S AGENTS OF SHIELD] and I did a show called SHARK together, and Natalie Dreyfuss [who was in TRUE BLOOD with Alejandro] is like my little sister. I’ve known her since she was ten years old. I used to babysit her. I’m fortunate that my friends are really cool actors, and really cool, great genre people, good people.
AX: The Season 3 episode you directed of LUCIFER, “Once Upon a Time,” wasn’t actually the season finale, but it was the last one aired. It took place in a slightly alternate universe, where Lucifer [Tom Ellis] wasn’t affiliated with the police department, Chloe [Lauren German] had stuck with movie acting instead of joining the police force, and so on …
ALEJANDRO: Yes. That was the episode that I was preparing for, and why I practiced on BEDTIME STORY, to get to that level. And that was an amazing experience, because everyone there – I was shooting movies with my brothers and sisters, where everyone wanted me to succeed, everyone wants that show to succeed, so if there was something that I didn’t understand, there was somebody to my right or my left or right in front of me that would help bail me out of whatever situation I could potentially run into, so that was probably the best experience I could have had for my first at that level of directing.
AX: Because the episode was set in an alternate-universe version of the show, was there a little freedom in the fact that the characters could be a little bit different, so it wasn’t like you had to stick to exactly how we knew them?
ALEJANDRO: Absolutely. It opened up the door. It was also a different intimidation. They kept calling it “the re-pilot.” Because it was basically like, “The rules don’t apply here. You can create a slightly different world, as long as you keep it within the context of what we do, then be creative and go.” And I was like, “Uh, okay …” [laughs] But we thought it was a really cool strategy of just changing things slightly. I did subtle differences, like changing the color of Lucifer’s car, changing the way Chloe reacts to certain things, but also keeping it parallel to when she was a cop. She’s an actress in that world. So it was really cool, trying to find those little things that mostly only the fans will catch onto. And that’s what made it fun, was, “Ooh, I wonder how many people are going to catch this. Ooh, I wonder how many people are going to catch that.”
AX: Did you direct an episode in Season 4?
ALEJANDRO: I did not direct an episode of Season 4. However, they have started talking me to be able to direct one in Season 5. [This has now been confirmed.]
AX: Besides LUCIFER, do you have your next directing project lined up?
ALEJANDRO: Yeah. I wrote two short films, one of which I directed, and it stars my son. It’s called THE TALK, and we had our world premiere at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood at the Dances With Films Festival. And the second one I wrote, also stars a little girl named Emerson Bosco, and my wife, Leslie Alejandro, directed it, so that’s her directorial debut. And they both got accepted in the same festival, so we had our back-to-back Father’s Day screening at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. So we’re super-stoked about those. They’re a couple of micro shorts with a bit of a dark twist. And Leslie and I and her sister are starting a production company, so we’re looking for projects that have the voice that we want to put out to the world, that speak to us, and that speak to an audience the way we want to be heard.
AX: What’s your production company called?
ALEJANDRO: It’s called Alejandro Films right now. Everything I’m doing is through Alejandro Films, and it kind of seems like that’s where it’s sitting right now.
AX: So people should look up Alejandro Films on YouTube, and if they have scripts that they think are in that vibe, they should send them to you?
ALEJANDRO: That would be amazing. Alejandro Films on YouTube is a practice playground for me, but our intentions for our company are on a broader, bigger spectrum. We’re looking for scripted series, documentaries, and feature films that have realistic issues and societal issues. We want to make people think about – not make them, but let them think about issues that you wouldn’t normally want to think about, but not force it down people’s throats, and just open an awareness to what’s going on in our world in an entertaining way.
AX: With LUCIFER, do you feel like five seasons is the right amount? Do you feel like, “Well, it’s good that we know this far in advance, so they have the time to craft a finale,” or do you feel like, “Well, it’s a shame, we could have just kept going”?
ALEJANDRO: Yeah, it’s a bittersweet emotion. I am very happy that we have the opportunity to close everything out, and close it at a time where this show means a lot to a lot of people. So that’s a beautiful thing, as opposed to it rolling into several seasons that were unnecessary. So that’s a really cool thing, that we can end it on a super-high note, and people still love us. But also, the selfish part of me is sad, because I really enjoy the project and enjoy the people that I’m with, from the crew to the actors, and we all enjoy each other. It’s the best job I think any of us have had. We talked about it – last night, I was having dinner with Lauren German and Lesley-Anne Brandt [who plays the demon Maze], and we were talking just about, wow, it’s crazy that we’re about to end, and the tears are already forming, because nobody really wants it to end, but we all realize that we’re very lucky and fortunate to be able to close it out the way that the creators intended. So that’s pretty awesome.
AX: And what would you most like people to know about LUCIFER Seasons 4 and 5?
ALEJANDRO: That Season 5 is indeed our last season, and it’s going to be very difficult for us to get through the whole season knowing that, but I promise you that every single one of us is going to do our absolute best to live up and give you exactly the closure that you need as an audience, and that we need as a cast and friends.
Article Source: Assignment X
Article: LUCIFER: Exclusive interview with Kevin Alejandro on Season 4, directing and playing detective – Part 2