In the fourth and final installment of this exclusive interview with Mike Costa, co-executive producer/writer on LUCIFER, which is currently streaming on Netflix, he talks about his love of the character of LAPD detective Dan Espinosa, played by Kevin Alejandro, the growth of the characters of Lucifer (Tom Ellis) and Chloe (Lauren German), and more.
AX: It seems like once a season, Dan attempts to either kill Lucifer, or get Lucifer killed, and then feels really bad about it later. Why is that?
COSTA: Well, you’re talking to the right person, because of all the writers, I have always loved Dan as a character, literally since Season 1. In my episode for Season 1, Dan gets beaten up by Malcolm [Kevin Rankin], and taken prisoner by him. When I was working on that, I realized, “Oh, this is who Dan is.” Dan is the guy who always gets beat up. Dan is the guy who never learns his lesson. Dan is the guy who tries his best, and gets constantly knocked down and crapped on, and he just gets back up, and just tries again. And he doesn’t really get that much smarter. He just is a determined doof. I don’t know why – I guess that says a lot about me – but I love that in his character.
There are different people [working on LUCIFER] over the years who have different skills. There are writers who are fantastic at the emotional, romantic moments. I’m not the go-to person for that. But I have become the go-to person for, what is the insult that Lucifer says to Dan, or what is the thing that Dan does? Because I love that character so much.
And yes, I wrote a Dan-centered episode, in the second half of Season 5 [“Daniel Espinosa: Naked and Afraid”], which is an episode I’ve been looking forward to for quite a while. But the thing I like about Dan on this show is that, to me, he is the most human character. He is the guy who really doesn’t know what’s going on a lot of the time, but is just trying his best, and gets constantly humiliated and knocked around, but just gets up and keeps going anyway. And honestly, I think that that’s really noble, and that is what I love about the character. I don’t love torturing the character so much as I love the fact that the character can be tortured, and just keeps going and figures it out, or does his best. That is what I think makes Dan so great. [Noir detective heroes] are guys who constantly get beaten up, and are way out of their depth, but keep going, just because they don’t know what else to do.
AX: Chloe seems like sometimes she’s unable to reconcile Lucifer’s behavior with their relationship, even though she knows he can be uncommonly self-centered …
COSTA: Well, we try and acknowledge that, where we have these meta asides from Chloe, being like, “Yeah, I get it. You’re making this about you, it’s just how it works.” We want our characters to have some level of self-awareness. On the other hand, though, I do think that the characters have grown and changed. It’s one of the things that, I think, also people respond to about the show, is that these are not the same people they were in the first episode.
Lucifer particularly has gotten a lot of growth, and for as self-absorbed and solipsistic as he still is, it’s less so than he was, and there is a lot more empathy that he has, and a lot more understanding for other people. That’s actually a major theme of what we’re working on in writing Season 6, which is, how far Lucifer has come, and how different that he is, and how that reflects on who he used to be.
And I think that when we write Chloe, we’re writing her as somebody who loves him. Even before she confessed that she loves him, she has loved him for a long time, and she wants to see the best in him. And I think that we are able to forget about the foibles of our loved ones, no matter how often they come up.
AX: Have you had to rewrite anything to accommodate the on-set protocols for dealing with COVID?
COSTA: We knew that we were going to have certain limitations. But I don’t know how much that will show, because we’re able to work around a lot more than you might think. I don’t think that you will notice any difference watching people kiss. I don’t know if it’ll be obvious ten years from now, people watching the series will be like, “What happened in Season 6? It looks so different!” I think we will still be able to get onscreen what is always there. It’s just going to be a much more complex and safety-oriented way of getting it there.
AX: With the big fight with Lucifer and his twin Michael, also played by Ellis, and their brother Amenadiel, played by DB Woodside, and the demon Maze, played by Lesley-Ann Brandt in Season 5, did you do a feasibility study first, or did you just write it and go, “All right, we’ve got two Tom Ellises, and time is stopping and the effects people can just have nervous breakdowns”?
COSTA: That was the other co-executive producer, Chris [Rafferty]’s episode. Chris, like I said, is somebody who’s very involved in the minutia of production. We’re lucky that we have show runners like Joe Henderson and Ildy Modrovich, who allow the writers to be as involved as they want to be. A lot of show runners don’t do that, and they keep their writers out of production as much as possible, but Joe and Ildy have always been big believers in, hopefully, all of us will be show runners on our own one day, and we need to know how these things work before we get to that place, and so they allow us to experience. Also, Kevin Alejandro, who plays Dan, directed that episode, and so, unlike a lot of our directors who just come in – they show up on the first day of prep, and then they’re only there for that time – Kevin’s on our show, so he’s available to talk to weeks out before prep begin, and I think that that helped a lot. He and Chris had a lot of conversations.
But ultimately, Chris sat down and wrote that scene in the way it was written, and then it was down to production to figure out how to do it. We’ve never written a speedboat chase, not because we wanted to write one, and production came to us and said, “This is undoable,” but we have a sense of, that would be kind of complicated and maybe not worth it. But when it comes to stuff like this, we have a pretty good sense on our show of what is feasible and what is not in terms of production. Chris in particular knows that stuff pretty well.
So, he wrote it like it’s written, and then what happens is, when you have a big fight sequence like that, including the one in “Diablo” [which Costa wrote], our stunt coordinator literally films a version of the fight with his stunt team, and it’s called a pre-vis. And then he shows us, “This is what it will look like. This is what we’re capable of. Here’s what the action is, and here’s where there’s going to be an effect, so let’s talk about this.” And then we’ll look at it, and sometimes production people will be like, “Well, ten shots of slow-motion glass are too many, or too expensive, but we can do three,” and stuff like that, and we work it out that way.
AX: Are we ever going to find out if God Johnson, played by Timothy Omundson, was God or not?
COSTA: As of now, the answer is, he was not actually God, but he was under the influence of the artifact that he was using as his belt buckle. He was given divine powers of knowledge and healing. The intention there was that Azrael’s blade sort of brings out the worst in people. It brings out a murderous instinct that makes you want to hurt, and you want to kill, and then there are other artifacts, like the belt buckle, that bring out the best, and bring out pure wisdom, and grace, and empathy, and an ability to heal, rather than to kill. And he was simply under the influence of that, just like all of those people were under the influence of Azrael’s blade in “Trip to Stabbytown,” where they were killing people with it. So he wasn’t actually God; he was simply under the influence of having the artifact. But he believed that he was God, because it was the only explanation that his mind could come up with, since he didn’t know what was going on.
AX: Do you have any other projects going on that we should know about?
COSTA: I’m also a comic book writer – I’m currently writing a comic book series, STEALTH, for Skybound, which is Robert Kirkman’s company.
AX: What’s that about?
COSTA: It takes place in Detroit, which is my hometown, and it’s sort of a combination between Batman and Iron Man, a Batman-esque sort of urban vigilante, but he has a suit that’s Iron Man-like. It’s about the consequences of what having a superpowered vigilante hero in a dilapidated city would do to the fabric of that city. It’s a superhero story that kind of looks at and deconstructs superheroes, so that’s the best I can probably describe it. It’s currently on the stands.
AX: And what would you most like people to know about LUCIFER Seasons 5 and 6 at this point?
COSTA: It sounds so canned, but the truth is, the best stuff is yet to come. We really are gearing up – we’re ending it, and we have put a lot of thought and care into how to bring the journey of all these characters to an end that we think our audience will find satisfying. And there’s a lot of big moments left. It’s obviously bittersweet, but it’s very exciting to be able to end something, and not just have it chopped off in the middle, to know we’re ending it, and be able to do it consciously, and to pay off everything that we’ve had hanging out there. I mean, you’ve already seen a bunch of stuff pay off in just the first half of Season 5. You’ve seen Chloe finally find out the truth about her nature, you’ve seen the explanations for what we call Lucifer’s mojo, his desire power, you’ve seen the explanation for that, and why Chloe is immune to it. These are questions that fans have been asking for the entire run of the show. We are answering all of those questions. So, it matters to us to answer the questions, and you will have more answers as the show winds down.
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Article: LUCIFER: Exclusive interview with Co-executive producer Mike Costa on Season 5 and Lucifer and Chloe finally getting together – Part 4