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SYFY WIRE Interviews

Lucifer's Tom Ellis dishes on nudity and betrayals in Season 4

By Bryan Cairns
Lucifer season 4

It's nearly impossible to banish the Devil. Fox tried, canceling the supernatural procedural Lucifer after three seasons, but a fan-led #SaveLucifer campaign prompted Netflix to give the Devil his due, reviving the series for a 10-episode fourth season.

Lucifer, which tells the story of the titular character's time on Earth as a consultant with the LAPD, will continue when Season 4 debuts on May 8. The action picks up a month after Detective Chloe Decker caught a glimpse of Lucifer's true form, his devil face. After being mysteriously absent, Chloe returns during a case. Despite appearances, something seems off with the detective… and that could spell doom for Lucifer.

Lucifer's leading man, Tom Ellis, spoke with SYFY WIRE about changing networks, nudity, the state of Lucifer and Chloe's relationship, as well as the coming of Eve.

It's been a rollercoaster ride between Lucifer's cancellation, the fan support and Netflix resurrecting the show. In your gut, did you always believe the series would find a new home?

I think I believed it from the moment that I had a call from Warner Brothers to say they were looking for a new home for it. That was a few days after the #SaveLucifer campaign had started. I felt like definitely not as soon as we got cancelled, but as soon as the fans found out and started making noise, which was unbelievable, that's when I started to go, "Hold on a minute." When I realized conversations were actually happening, I thought, "I think we have hope here." The fact that people kept going – and I just kept encouraging people to keep going with it – because they were being heard, that's all I knew at that point. But I did believe somehow it would happen and then, it did.

If it didn't, what a way to end a series. Chloe finally gets a clear view of Lucifer's devil face. When you received that script, what were your thoughts on that development? Did it feel earned to you?

I definitely think we earned it by that point. The conceit of not knowing or not believing, and Lucifer being very open about it, it's funny. But, as our characters got close, you have to question how long you can keep that conceit up. It was definitely earned. It was brilliant that it happened like that because I think that was one of the reasons why the fans were like, "What? You can't leave it there." It had that desired reaction as well. As a result of it, we got a different dynamic in the show, but not at the show's detriment in any way.

That steamy Season 4 promo spot of you emerging from the pool caused a lot of noise. It looks like you are in the best shape of your life. Did you prep just for that? Or, how indicative is it of where the series is heading this year?

It's weird. Between Season 3 and 4, while I was waiting to find out what was going on with the show, I was loosely working out. I had a trainer I had been working with for a while. He was like, "Look, if you guys get Season 4, I want you to take it up a level and get into Men's Health shape." I was like, "OK." I knew how hard that was to do and how much time and effort it took. I shied away from it the past couple of years. I said yes to the fact. Obviously, when we got cancelled, I was like, "At least I don't have to do that."

Then, I think the first call I got after the pickup was announced on Netflix was my trainer going, "OK, are you ready?" So, we sort of had three months before I started shooting again, where I had time to do it. We went for it. I changed my lifestyle a bit. It's funny because it coincided with the Netflix pickup. Everyone now calls it "the Netflix body." It wasn't Netflix that encouraged me to do it. I just brought it to Netflix. Then, the talk about there's a bit more flesh this season because we have slightly looser boundaries in terms of what we can do... It all ties in.

You definitely bare it all in the nudist colony episode.

Yes, indeed. We just thought, "Why not? Let's just get it all out there." What we were careful about, and what became apparent when the show got canceled and the fans really spoke up, was how broad our fanbase was and how it appeals to kids, teenagers, grandparents, moms, dads, boyfriends and girlfriends. It has something for everybody in there because I think we never went too far. We weren't able to go too far with Fox in terms of vulgarity and violence. Even though we have new boundaries, we wanted to be mindful of that and not change our show because we could suddenly do really graphic stuff or say swear words all the time.

All I would say is we pushed it in certain areas than we would have been able to before. We are still keeping the cheekiness of the show, because I think that's what I think people really liked. It was suggestive and cheeky. It wasn't vulgar. That's still very much at the heart of the show.

Lucifer season 4

There's a one-month time jump when the series returns. Where do we find Lucifer and what is his mindset?

He has been somewhat self-wallowing in typical Lucifer fashion for the four weeks. He was hopeful the detective, who disappeared, would come back. He's had that flame of hope that has slowly been extinguishing over this month. We have this passing of time montage at the beginning of the episode. The killing of Pierce has been haunting. It's kind of bringing something about him that maybe he is this ugly devil and this horrible thing. But, during a robbery, he has an enlightening moment where he thinks, "No, that's not all I am. If she ever comes back, I can prove that to her." That's basically Lucifer this season. He's constantly fighting this battle of, "Am I the monster? Or, am I the man I want to be?" That's all set up in the opening.

This is Lucifer at his most vulnerable. How pleased have you been exploring those layers?

I think it is his most vulnerable. Lucifer is taking other people's feelings into consideration. He does that more than once this season. For me, it is important for us to remain honest to where we are in our story. I think that is where we are in our story. These moments of self-reflection, these moments of emotional vulnerability, are important to the progression of us telling this story. We are always mindful these people aren't from Earth, so once these human traits start to get absorbed into them, they are still an angel, demon or the devil.

How would you describe his relationship with Chloe at this point? When she does re-enter his life, is Lucifer relieved or terrified about where they stand?

He's confused, but hopeful when Chloe comes back. He would be more than happy to accept that she's accepted everything and moved on. It becomes quite apparent, quite early, that there's something not quite right about the detective when she comes back. Of course, we have this big reveal at the end of episode one that she didn't just go away on holiday to rethink things. She went to Rome to research about the Devil and her path has crossed with this priest who has convinced her that the best way to deal with everything is to send the Devil back to Hell. The priest is the only person who plausibly believes what she now knows.

Chloe has this struggle, which is completely understandable on a human level, but Lucifer just cannot get his head around it when he finds out. It's a betrayal. Moving forward, whatever happens between him and the detective, there is this betrayal that's happened. Lucifer is not one to forget.


The Garden of Eden's Eve arrives on Lucifer's doorstep. Introduce us to Eve and how she turns Lucifer's world upside down.

Eve is Lucifer's first, which becomes very relevant as the season progresses. I don't think Lucifer ever expected to see Eve ever again. But, at his lowest ebb with the detective, where he realizes she could never accept him for who he truly is, Eve comes along. She's managed to make her way out of Heaven because she realizes he's not content. What she really misses is her first man, Lucifer, the first person she had. She comes back and kind of reminds Lucifer of the devil he used to be in the Garden of Eden. She is more than willing to encourage that out of him. Suddenly, Lucifer is in a struggle. He has someone on the outside supporting him and promoting not the best version of him.

Episode 6 culminates with a turning point for Lucifer. Can you tease how that plays out in the rest of the season?

Lucifer, in trying to do the better thing, actually results in someone dying. He takes that very badly. So, Lucifer decides to resort to the punisher he believes he now is. He does something very bad. There are consequences to that towards the end of the season. The consequences might appear to be human and legal, but the celestial consequences become much greater.