LUCIFER Co-executive producer Mike Costa | photo courtesy Mike Costa

LUCIFER Co-executive producer Mike Costa | photo courtesy Mike Costa

LUCIFER concluded the first half of Season 5 with major events. Lucifer (Tom Ellis) and his destined human love Chloe Decker (Lauren German) finally got together romantically. Lucifer’s evil twin, the archangel Michael (also Ellis) maneuvered Chloe’s ex, detective Dan Espinosa (Kevin Alejandro) into finding out that Lucifer really is the Devil. Lucifer and Michael’s angel brother Amenadiel (DB Woodside) found out that the infant son he’s had with human psychotherapist Linda (Rachael Harris) is mortal. Demon bounty hunter Mazikeen (Lesley-Ann Brandt) is still furious with Lucifer for having gone to Hell without telling her, even though he’s back now. Poor coroner Ella Lopez (Aimee Garcia) has had her faith in God restored, but she now has to recover from dating a serial killer.

And Dad – that’s God (Dennis Haysbert) to most of us – shows up to get his sons to stop squabbling.

LUCIFER was originally developed by Tom Kapinos, based on the comic book series by Mike Dringenberg and Sam Kieth, which was spun off from Neil Gaiman’s SANDMAN graphic novels. The series ran on Fox for three seasons, before being canceled and rescued by Netflix. After Season 4 was a hit, Netflix commissioned a ten-episode final fifth season. Then Netflix added six episodes to Season 5 – and then decided to give LUCIFER a sixth season.

The second half of Season 5 is set to run on Netflix in early 2021, with Season 6 coming later in the year.

Although co-executive producer/writer Mike Costa has been with LUCIFER since Season 1, he says this interview is the first he’s ever given for the series. Speaking by phone, in Part 1 of a four-part exclusive, Costa talks about how LUCIFER adjusted to getting a surprise sixth season, star Ellis’s on-camera new role as Michael and behind-the-scenes new role as executive producer, and more.

ASSIGNMENT X: Was the Season 5 midseason break was always intended, or was the intermission due to the extra six-episode order?

MIKE COSTA: Yes. It was due to the extra six-episode order. When we were given the extra six episodes, from that point on, we knew we would do eight episodes, and then have a break, and then do another eight.

AX: When you got the order for the extra six, did you change the season arc at all, or did you just drop some standalone episodes, or how did you deal with it?

Lauren German as Chloe Decker and Tom Ellis as Lucifer in LUCIFER - Season 5 - "Really Sad Devil Guy" |©2020 Netflix/John P. Fleenor

Lauren German as Chloe Decker and Tom Ellis as Lucifer in LUCIFER – Season 5 – “Really Sad Devil Guy” |©2020 Netflix/John P. Fleenor

COSTA: Well, we had already spent a couple weeks working, assuming we had ten episodes. So, when we got the extra six, we didn’t change the basic shape of what the story would be, but we realized we had extra room, essentially, to explore more. We extended the story that we already had, and obviously, some things necessarily changed, but also, we were still very early in the season, so we hadn’t worked out every single detail yet. The extra six episodes really gave us much more of an opportunity to explore different stories with different characters. For instance, I don’t know if we would have ended up doing the flashback episode in black and white if we hadn’t gotten those extra six episodes. It gave us room to do things like that, which was really exciting and fun.

AX: You got the order for six more episodes on Season 5, and later got the pickup for Season 6. Did you have to change anything, or did you have time to change anything, in Season 5 once you knew you had a Season 6?

COSTA: We did, yes. Season 5 was not able to be completed before we shut down for COVID. We had started shooting the final episode, but we were not able to complete it. But even before that, even before we started shooting it, we knew that we were going to do Season 6, and we adjusted what was going to be what we thought was the end of our series.

As [LUCIFER show runners] Joe Henderson and Ildy Modrovich have said previously in interviews, and this really is true, we realized that we were kind of rushing the end of the show, that we had come to the conclusion of the arc of Season 5 with what Michael was doing, and what Dad being there meant, and all of this stuff, and different conflicts between the characters, and then we had this extended denouement that was to wrap up the series. We had our end of the season, and then, here’s the coda that wraps up our series. And Joe and Ildy co-wrote the final episode of Season 5, which we thought was going to be our final episode ever, and as they were working on it, they were like, “This is really tough. The space that we have to wrap up the series is very small.” And that was almost like a fortuitous miracle, is when we got the news that we had another season.

Ildy in particular, who was working on that section of the script at the time, was almost relieved, and thought, “Well, good, because I am cramming way too much into these four or five scenes. There is really stuff that should be explored better.” And so, we didn’t so much change the end as we are just expanding it out. So, it’s still going to be the same end that we figured out over a year ago, it’s just going to be strung out in a much longer space.

Tom Ellis as Lucifer and Lauren German as Chloe Decker in LUCIFER - Season 5 - "Lucifer! Lucifer! Lucifer!" |©2020 Netflix/John P. Fleenor

Tom Ellis as Lucifer and Lauren German as Chloe Decker in LUCIFER – Season 5 – “Lucifer! Lucifer! Lucifer!” |©2020 Netflix/John P. Fleenor

AX: How long has Tom Ellis been an executive producer on the show, and what is his input like?

COSTA: He got that title Season 5. It was just this past season. The thing is, Tom has always been involved. Tom reads every script as soon as it comes out – which, again, you would think happens [with all actors], but that is not a given [laughs]. There are a lot of actors in television, and probably in movies as well, that just don’t read the script at all, except for their lines. And then maybe they read them on the day they have to recite them. But Tom reads the script right away.

Because, again, we have an unusually close relationship with the cast. All of the writers know Tom, we text, we have phone conversations – also not particularly usual. So, Tom is always giving input – not a tremendous amount, he doesn’t give notes that don’t have to be addressed, but if he has thoughts, he’ll say, “Oh, I really like this.” And when a script comes out, Tom’s often will call the writer and talk about it.

One of the things that makes the show work so well is that Tom is what they call a great Number One. He’s the lead of the show, and there’s a lot that comes with that besides just being the actor who’s on camera the most. That is, people tend to follow the example of the person on the show who is the star. If that star is kind of a d**k, or treats people below him not so well, or is a prima donna, then that can trickle down, and other people in the cast can start acting that way, people on the crew can start feeling disgruntled.

D.B. Woodside is Amenadiel in LUCIFER - Season 5 - "¡Diablo!" |©2020 Netflix/John P. Fleenor

D.B. Woodside is Amenadiel in LUCIFER – Season 5 – “¡Diablo!” |©2020 Netflix/John P. Fleenor

And Tom has never done that. Tom has always set the best example. He is incredibly professional. He is always prepared, he always knows his lines. He’s also an incredibly generous and nice person, and makes people feel comfortable, and shows up on time, and it means everybody else wants to show up on time. Because if the guy in charge is showing up on time, you can’t get away with not being on time. If the guy in charge knows all his lines, you can’t get away with not knowing your lines. And I’m not saying that our actors would do it otherwise, because all the rest of our actors are also pretty great like that. But the fact that Tom just naturally does it means a lot. And the fact that he cares so much about the show, we felt like an executive producer title was not an unreasonable thing. Because a lot of what he’s doing – setting an example, being involved – that is what a producer would do. So, he’s already going above and beyond his role as an actor. Long story short, his input into the production didn’t change all that much when he got that title, because he was already doing a lot of the work that an executive producer would be. It was the fair thing to do.

AX: With the character of Michael, did the writers first think, Tom Ellis should get a chance to play the Big Bad, or did you hear him doing a dweeby American accent, and come up with a way for him to use it as a new character in the show?

COSTA: [laughs] Well, we all had already heard Tom’s American accent, because he’s done it on television before, and he’s actually done it in our own show, where he’s on a police p.a. system, and he’s playing a prank on Chloe. So, we knew what it sounded like, and we thought it would be appropriate for his evil twin, to distinguish the two of them immediately, so you know, “Oh, that’s Michael, that’s Lucifer.” But also, it just felt right, because it’s kind of creepy, it’s kind of smarmy. He plays that up as well in the character, but I think from the very beginning, we knew, “Oh, when Tom does this, he’s going to do his American accent.”

Lesley-Ann Brandt as Maze and Tom Ellis as Lucifer in LUCIFER - Season 5 - "It Never Ends Well For the Chicken" |©2020 Netflix/John P. Fleenor

Lesley-Ann Brandt as Maze and Tom Ellis as Lucifer in LUCIFER – Season 5 – “It Never Ends Well For the Chicken” |©2020 Netflix/John P. Fleenor

AX: How do you do the shots where we can see both Lucifer and Michael’s faces simultaneously?

COSTA: We have a special effects company we work with called Cosa, and they are amazing. The “Diablo” episode actually has the first confrontation between Michael and Lucifer, a physical fight between the two of them, and I was involved in a lot of the meetings about how that was going to work. And they literally would say, “Well, with this shot, we’re going to do this technique. For this shot, we’ll do a split screen. And then for this shot, we’re going to do an actual face replacement, where Tom is going to be wrestling with another stuntman, and we’re going to put Tom’s face on the stuntman.” Whatever the needs of any particular shot, they have techniques of what’s going to be the easiest thing to do, or what will be the best-looking thing to do. I really wish I had more of a technical understanding of all that stuff, but what I can tell you is, I thought, “Man, I’m doing a fight between two people who are played by the same actor. This is going to be hard.” And it didn’t seem like it was hard for them at all. They looked at that, and figured out, “Oh, it’s fine.” So they really know what they’re doing over there at Cosa.

AX: How did Michael come to have that posture, with one shoulder up?

COSTA: That was Tom, actually. I think, like a lot of actors who play dual roles, he was looking for ways to distinguish their physicalities. He has a much better insight into what the idea behind that was, but we loved the idea that Michael is not necessarily stunted, but that his physicality has a certain kind of anger to it, and a certain kind of twistedness, and I’m pretty sure that was all him. Maybe him working in conjunction with Joe and Ildy, they may have had conversations about that that I wasn’t privy to, but I’m almost certain that that came from Tom himself.

AX: Why was it decided that Tom Ellis should have a from-the-back nude scene?

COSTA: Well, we know what our fans like to see [laughs], and Tom himself is very non-bashful. I don’t know if it comes from a background in theater, or if it’s just Tom in particular is a very confident man. And we have more freedom on Netflix to do things like that. So we take advantage.

Lauren German as Chloe Decker and Tom Ellis as Lucifer in LUCIFER - Season 5 - "It Never Ends Well For the Chicken" |©2020 Netflix/John P. Fleenor

Lauren German as Chloe Decker and Tom Ellis as Lucifer in LUCIFER – Season 5 – “It Never Ends Well For the Chicken” |©2020 Netflix/John P. Fleenor

AX: Why was it decided that the Michael character should get that scene, rather than Lucifer?

COSTA: That episode was written by Ildy Modrovich, and it was directed by Sherwin Shilati, who’s one of our go-to directors. He also directed the Season 4 premiere, and also the first episode that Eve [played by Inbar Lavi] appears in, and he directed the upcoming musical episode as well. So again, this is a question that I’m probably not best to answer, because I wasn’t one of the people involved, but I think that the idea was, we wanted to do [a shot] that subverted the beefcake that we usually do, when you get to see all of Tom, but in fact, it’s a creepy scene, and the fact that he was not wearing clothes kind of made it creepier [laughs]. So, I think that was a lot of the thought behind that. I think it might be our longest-ever naked Tom shot as well, because it’s all done as one shot, so there was a lot of discussion put into how that shot would work.

AX: Did Amenadiel always have a lower opinion of Michael than of Lucifer? And if so, why? For a long time, he seemed to have a poor opinion of Lucifer …

COSTA: We had discussed the character of Michael showing up before. It’s one of the things that, when you work on a TV show for several years, there’s always that one idea for an episode that keeps coming up every year, and you end up not doing it, and then eventually, you actually do it. The musical episode is one of those, too. Every year, it’s like, “We should do a musical episode!” We finally got the chance to do it. We had discussed the character of Michael, and we actually have a moment in Season 4 where Linda is talking about potential names for the baby, and she mentions “Michael,” and Amenadiel says, “Absolutely not.” So, we had known from the beginning that he was going to be sort of sinister or unpleasant – the brother that everybody doesn’t like.

As far as Amenadiel was concerned, Lucifer was bratty, and Lucifer got all of Dad’s attention, which Amenadiel felt that he [Amenadiel] deserved. At least early on in the series, that was sort of the conflict between the two of them. But Michael was worse in a way. Because Lucifer was never necessarily malicious to his siblings, but Michael certainly was. So that is why Amenadiel has an even lower opinion of Michael.

Tom Ellis as Lucifer in LUCIFER - Season 5 - "It Never Ends Well For the Chicken" |©2020 Netflix/John P. Fleenor

Tom Ellis as Lucifer in LUCIFER – Season 5 – “It Never Ends Well For the Chicken” |©2020 Netflix/John P. Fleenor

AX: Casting Dennis Haysbert as God/Dad – is this because Dennis Haysbert played President Palmer on 24, or because he was voted the Most Trusted Man in America – he actually was – because of those Allstate Insurance ads?

COSTA: I think it was originally DB who floated that idea, because they worked together on 24, [where] DB played Dennis’s younger brother. Now [on LUCIFER], DB plays his son, which is a weird combo, but when you’re God, ages don’t really matter. [laughs] Yeah, I think it was looking for somebody who obviously had a lot of gravitas, and who also had an avuncular feel. Dennis has a very trusted presence, I think, because of the way he’s portrayed in those commercials, but also, he just radiates a calm confidence that seems very comforting. And that was really crucial to the character of God, which you’ll see more of in the second half of the season, when it finally premieres, and you actually get to spend time with him. So, those were features that we were looking for in the character, and when the name Dennis Haysbert was floated, I think all of us were like, “Well, obviously, we hope he does it!” Because then it comes down to whether or not he’s going to want to work on the show, and luckily, he did, and he’s fit in so well.

LUCIFER - Season 5 Key Art |©2020 Netflix

LUCIFER – Season 5 Key Art |©2020 Netflix

One of the things about the show that gets repeated a lot in these interviews, and it is really true, is that our cast and our writing staff and our crew get along very well, which is not necessarily a given in television [laughs]. But we really do gel very well, and get along, and it is sort of a vibe of a family. It’s always tricky when you’re introducing a new person to the cast who’s going to be a major character who’s around a lot. Is the chemistry going to work? And it really, really worked with Dennis. This is just the best possible scenario. So, we got very lucky, not just because of who he is as a performer, but also who he is as a man. And that’s something else that DB was able to tell us about. So that helped a lot, too.

LUCIFER - Season 4 Key Art | ©2019 Netflix

LUCIFER – Season 4 Key Art | ©2019 Netflix

AX: Do you know what Dennis Haysbert’s reaction was to literally playing God?

COSTA: I think that DB may have been the one to approach him initially, so I wasn’t there for that, but one thing we felt was an appeal was, what actor wouldn’t want the chance to play God, really? [laughs] So we felt like, that’s one thing in our favor. They’re not playing a second-fiddle character, or a love interest, or some kind of character that might not be appealing. They’re playing God. And the fact is, Dennis doesn’t really have much of an ego, so I don’t want to suggest that that’s what played into that, but before we knew who we were going to get, before we knew it would be Dennis, there was a feeling of like, “Well, what actor wouldn’t want to be God? That’s the greatest role of all time.” I think he did enjoy that aspect of it. Obviously, he is God. What could be more fun to play?

Related: LUCIFER: Exclusive interview with Kevin Alejandro on Season 4, directing and playing detective – Part 2

Related: LUCIFER: Exclusive interview with Kevin Alejandro on Season 4 – Part 1

Related: LUCIFER: Exclusive interview with showrunner Joe Henderson on Season 4 and Season 5  – Part 2

RelatedLUCIFER: Exclusive interview with showrunner Joe Henderson on Season 4 and Netflix – Part 1

Related: LUCIFER: Exclusive interview with Tricia Helfer on playing the Supreme Goddess on Season 3

Related: LUCIFER: Exclusive interview with actress Aimee Garcia on Season 3

Related: LUCIFER: Exclusive interview with Kevin Alejandro on Season 3

Related: LUCIFER: Showrunner and executive producer Joe Henderson on Season 3 and mythology  – Exclusive Interview – Part 2

Related: LUCIFER: Showrunner and executive producer Joe Henderson on Season 3 – Exclusive Interview – Part 1

Related: LUCIFER: Joe Henderson and Ildy Modrovich on Season 2 – exclusive interview

Related: LUCIFER: Kevin Alejandro chats about his rivalry with the devil – exclusive interview

Related: LUCIFER: Lauren German on working with the Devil – exclusive interview

Related: LUCIFER: Jonathan Littman on having fun with the devil – exclusive interview

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ArticleLUCIFER: Exclusive interview with Co-executive producer Mike Costa on Season 5 – Part 1


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