'Lucifer' Boss on Showing "a Different Facet of the Devil" and How Close Series Will Stay to Comics

"What we’re really doing is letting him explore that idea of what it means to be a fully fleshed person," showrunner Joe Henderson tells THR about the freshman Fox drama. "What it means to be human for the devil himself."
 Courtesy of FOX

[Warning: This story contains spoilers for the series premiere of Lucifer.]

On Monday, viewers got to meet a very different kind of DC Comics character with the premiere of Fox's Lucifer.

But despite his hellish upbringing, this pleasure-seeking, vengeance-obtaining character (Tom Ellis) may not be as morally bad as he’s been portrayed in the past, in large part thanks to the structural setup of his helping L.A. detective Chloe Dancer (Lauren German) solve crimes each week. Meanwhile, Lucifer's own humanity remains very much in question as he continues to reside on Earth, despite his father’s angry wishes that he return to hell.

To find out where things are headed post-premiere, how viewers can buy the devil as a crime-solving dude and what the actual deal is with Chloe and the psychiatrist, The Hollywood Reporter spoke with showrunner Joe Henderson.

How did you avoid making the Devil a villain?

I wouldn’t actually call him a good guy; he’s like any of us, he’s shades of gray. He’s a fallen son, a wayward son, someone who wanted what his dad had and his dad said no and kicked him out of the house. What the pilot conveys is the idea of him wanting to be able to make his own choices and embrace what he desires. And when he comes to Earth, so much of it is looking at humanity and what they desire, and why they aren’t doing that. Why not embrace it and be true to yourself? That is the character we took from the comics and that’s the character that’s going to live on the show.

What about balancing the juxtaposition of him saying he hates one thing, like kids, then acting like he likes them — does he know what he really wants?

That’s what so interesting about him — he doesn’t lie. He’s always truthful because lying lessens you with the people you’re with. Why not tell the truth? It’s much more powerful. Except maybe he lies to himself because that’s the one thing we can’t control, how self-aware we are. There’s the thing about him not liking kids, but then this kid comes around and she sure is charming and he doesn’t know what to do with her. So does he hate kids? Or is it just what villains know and the only assumption he’s ever made? He is just walking in, embracing everything he wants to be, and yet what he’s learning through his journey and through his time with Dr. Linda (Rachael Harris) is that maybe he’s not as simple as he likes to think he is.

How will this therapy be used throughout the season?

It just offers us the opportunity to dig into the character. Every week we’re understanding a different facet of the devil, a character we’ve always known as black and white. It also offers a character who’s not terribly introspective a chance to, for the first time, look at himself. He’s always just been the devil, end of story. But now you have someone poking at that, prodding at that and asking questions that he’s never wondered. Plus, Rachael and Tom have such an incredible chemistry and it’s just fun to write the two of them together.

Is the first-season journey about him finding his own humanity?

Lucifer’s fascinated by humanity, he’s very curious about it, and as we journey forward he might start to realize that he’s more human than he thinks, not on a literal level but a figurative one. As we go forward, maybe he has more in common with them than he knows in terms of their vulnerabilities. You could say we’re humanizing the devil to a  certain extent metaphorically, but what we’re really doing is letting him explore that idea of what it means to be a fully fleshed person, what it means to be human for the devil himself.

Is that where a serialized element can come into play with the procedural element?

At the end of the pilot Lucifer has this problem where he’s like, “I have an existential crisis or two, I wanted to talk about it while we have sex.” That right there is Lucifer in a nutshell. He’s this forever teenager who’s enjoying life but now he’s curious about something, now he’s trying to dig into something and that is going to be what’s going to really drive him throughout the episodes. These cases are an opportunity for him to explore facets of himself. Lucifer generally doesn’t care about the people that died; what he cares about is what it can tell him about him, the people around him or Chloe, who he’s fascinated with. He makes everything about himself, as the devil would do.

Is Chloe just a really good person or does she have powers of some sort?

That’s the exact question Lucifer is asking. He is going to be investigating Chloe to find out is that just it, [or] is there something more? There’s that line, “Did my father send you?” He’s wondering, is she an agent of his father, does she even know she has this effect, or is it just her genuine goodness that affects him?

He fights the urge to punish a lot. Is that a recurring theme?

We have an episode coming up where he’s dealing with that; he was forced to punish, Dad made him do that. And part of it is him exploring the idea of if he still wants to do this, why does he still want to do it.

God, or his father, is mentioned a lot. Any chance of meeting him in season one?

Right now no. What I love about the comic is God is ever present but he’s the absentee dad. That’s how it is for Lucifer and Amenadiel. It’s two brothers dealing with the dad that doesn’t really talk to them but always expects way too much from them. Who knows down the line, but I find it much more interesting what they did in the comic and what we’ve been playing with is more how do you interpret an absentee dad? Did he tell Amenadiel to get him back to hell or is he interpreting God’s wishes? What does that mean? When is the last time they even really spoke to Dad? All those things.

How long can viewers suspend their believe that Lucifer wants to solve cases?

We are going to embrace it as we’re going into our story and address that question: "Why would these two people work together?" I’m greedy so I want to get some story out of it. Our fun is for a couple of episodes we’re seeing this guy who keeps popping up in Chloe’s life and she wants to get rid of him. But he’s really helpful even though at the same time he drives her crazy. She’s closing cases. The fun of it is seeing that relationship progress and not having it solidified for the first couple of episodes.

Lucifer airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on Fox.

What did you think of the premiere? Sound off in the comments below.

Twitter: @amber_dowling

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