Lucifer, Superman, and BBQ: A Night with Tom Ellis and Tom Welling

Joshua Stone writes:

About a month ago, I received email with the subject being "Lucifer – Tom Welling and Tom Ellis". This was either spam targeting nerds interested in a very specific television show, or an email that was proposing some nerd fun for yours truly. Thankfully, it was the latter of the two. And so last month I attended A Night With Two Toms — a night of food, drink, an advance screening of a Lucifer episode, and some time with series stars Tom Ellis, who plays Lucifer Morningstar, the Devil himself; and Tom Welling, who plays Lieutenant Marcus Pierce on the show and who previously starred on a little show called Smallville as Clark Kent.

The event took place at a restaurant in Studio City, California, called Barrel & Ashes. The drinks and food both took their theme from Lucifer. Drinks included the Fallen Angel, Lucifer's Temptation, Fire and Brimstone, and Serpent's Kiss. As it was a work night, I resisted the urge to order one of each and instead enjoyed just a Serpent's Kiss. The food also all had devilish names and was mostly meant to light a fire in your stomach, so I had to pass on most of it — but the Hot Wings and Deviled Eggs hit the spot.

Lucifer screening drink menu

From there we got a chance to take in the ambience of the restaurant and look forward to the arrival of the two Toms.

As the two Toms arrived, it was time for the show. We were shown episode 306, 'The Sinnerman', which is scheduled to air tonight (Monday, December 4th, 2017) on Fox. I will not go to deep into the episode as I want to avoid spoilers, but if you have been watching the show, then you can already tell from the episode title that it's focused on the character that has been this season's mysterious bad guy. Now, even though I want to avoid spoilers, the rest of this article is much of the conversations that took place with the two Toms, so spoilers will be unavoidable. So either hold off on reading the rest until watching this episode or don't worry about it and enjoy the Two Toms.

Tom Ellis and Tom Welling

There were about six of us gathered around a table when Tom Ellis joined us, and as the room was loud, my recorded was unable to clearly pick up everything that was said. But like the meat that was served, I think I still got the juicy bits.

Q: Are you enjoying the LA relocation? (Note: Lucifer moved filming of season 3 to Los Angeles, after filming seasons 1 and 2 in Vancouver.)

Tom Ellis: Yes, for both professional and personal reasons. When you don't live in a city that you're working in and you have family living elsewhere, it's difficult. So there's that side of it. For the show, we did two seasons in Vancouver, and it's very difficult to keep that smoke and mirrors going because there's only so many locations you can use. There's only so much seasons you can use to your advantage without it kind of infringing on what you're trying to do with the show.

When we started the show — a show set in Los Angeles, the pilot here — Los Angeles was very much a character of the show. It's so unique. You can't really replicate Los Angeles even if you tried. There's something about the air quality. It affects everything. For lots of reasons I'm very happy to be here. But I want to go on record saying our Vancouver crew were a very special group of people and I do genuinely miss them. It's been hard to start again anew, and the new crew is fantastic, but the Vancouver crew really cemented what this show is about and the feeling it has.

Q: This episode was really gruesome. What did you think of the Sinnerman's eyes in that scene?

TE: That prosthetic was amazing. The guy that did that prosthetic is the guy that did the original Pennywise makeup in the original It, which I was so excited about when he came in. Also, having Kevin Carroll, who plays the Sinnerman — he's really a top-notch actor. This is very much one of a two-parter. The next episode is my favorite of the season thus far, as a winter finale. He's great. The makeup was eerie, kind of; it was very gruesome, but I'm really glad we did it. I think where this show really zings is when it's really dark; what humans do to each other as themselves is really dark. Somehow that makes our comedy pop a bit more; it makes the fun of the show pop a bit more. So I love it when it sort of juxtaposes itself.

Joshua Stone: It was interesting to watch you, as the Devil, still be surprised by what humans do to themselves. Because that was definitely your reaction; you were surprised by that.

TE: The last thing Lucifer would assume is that someone would do that to themselves just to escape being asked questions. It's great, and it sets up in a weird way kind of fun moments for the next episode. It's cool. A lot of this season, about Lucifer — I know he's in denial a lot anyway, but this sort of notion that this first half of the season of finding out that he's got his wings back, his devil face is gone; what the fuck is going on? Then there's something tangible, with the Sinnerman, to start pinning it on. Then he makes his active decision to kind of go, "You know what? I'm going to cut my wings away. I'm going to do deals better than the Sinnerman does. I'm shutting it out, closure to everything." It's been a bit of a weird time, 'cause it feels like not a lot has been happening, but behind the scenes an awful lot is happening. It kind of explodes in the second half of the year.

Q: What's it like to attend this and watch it with other people?

TE: When people laugh, I'm never going to be upset — unless it's meant to be a really heartfelt moment. My first experience of watching Lucifer with a group of people was at Comic-Con, and it was before the show had been on. There were a lot of people there, and I was so nervous. We wandered in as they were halfway through. I heard one of the jokes, and I heard the whole room just laugh, and I was like, "Woo!" Doing theater and doing a comedy, you get that instant kind of feedback. You get that instant kind of reward, especially when you're trying to do something that you think is funny and people laugh at it — that's amazing. Experiencing people watching it and it's dramatic and there's tension and there's laughs; every time something lands, you're like, "Yes, yes, yes."

Q: How annoyed is Lucifer when he doesn't get what he wants? The Sinnerman obviously isn't giving him anything that he wants.

TE: Incredibly frustrated. The thing with the Sinnerman is that what Lucifer finds incredibly perplexing is that a human seemingly has this power, and that's frustrating and just maddening. Lucifer loves to be in charge. When he's not in charge, or dad's taken over, or someone else seems to have taken away from his spotlight, he finds it frustrating and angering.

Q: It seems in this episode that Pierce was taking away his spotlight a little bit, especially with Chloe's attention.

TE: That's a direction our season is going [in], actually. Obviously, there's this deep connection between Lucifer and Chloe; that's the heartbeat of the show. We've never really had someone come in and vie for Chloe's affections before, and that happens. How Lucifer deals with that is a big part of the second half of our season, basically. He's not in control of that situation, and in a weird way that's what he loves about it. He loves the newness, he loves the danger, someone else encroaching. Not good news.

Q: You said the episode after this one is your favorite so far of the season. What about it makes it so special?

TE: The stakes are very high, which is always good dramatically. Kevin Carroll, who plays the Sinnerman — we end up having a lot of good stuff to do together, and so from a personal view, it is very satisfying. But also from a story point, it's where I feel like this season really kicks off what's the point of the season. It's been a simmering, slow thing that we've been able to explore all that sort of stuff, but now it's kind of like, "Pow!" (claps hands)

* * * * *

It was time for Tom Ellis to take his leave and for the second Tom of the Two Toms, Tom Welling, to join us. Welling walked up and immediately started chatting with us.

Tom Welling and Tom Ellis

TOM WELLING: The food is really good, the drinks are all good; and I'm not just saying this. So, that episode was like 43 minutes long — did that not seem like a two-parter, in the sense that there was so much information? I love this show; I watched it for two seasons before I was ever in it, but this episode was really good. But wait till you see the next one. You're going to be really surprised by the next one.

Q: Did you purposely wait 12 episodes to call Decker "Chloe"?

TW: I strategically want to answer that. Obviously, I don't write the episodes, but I asked the same question, and yes, they did that on purpose. The first time that he calls her Chloe, there's a reason the writers did that, and I asked the same question.

JS: What did you think of the Superman joke in the episode?

TW: I thought it was funny.

JS: It was very weird for me to be sitting five feet from you and be like, "Wow, he's here," when that joke was made.

TW: I know, I hear it too. In a few episodes to come, there's a joke that Lucifer says directly to Pierce, and obviously it's for the audience and not for the character. I think it's funny, but I can't play it that way as that character for sure. But I see what they're doing; I'm on to them.

Q: What was it like coming on to this show versus Smallville?

TW: What you don't see is every time they say, "Cut," we all break into laughter on every take — all of us. Tom [Ellis] is so charming it's infectious. On Smallville, [my] character was always asking, "What? What's going on; what, what, what?" While Lex Luthor, Michael [Rosenbaum] and I talked, Clark was always like, "What?" and Lex was always like. "Why?" And what you'll find through this season is neither of the two from Pierce, because you'll find Pierce is more ahead of the game than you think; like, way ahead of the game.

One of the challenges [of] playing this character in the first episode is that Pierce doesn't say anything. Everybody else talks about him, so you're playing a character that doesn't say anything. And the challenge to me was like, just sit there a little bit, kind of be a little bit of a jerk, kind of be a little stern. Hopefully people go, "Why the fuck is he here — why is Tom Welling here? He's got to be here for a reason." (Welling backtracks humbly, trying not to sound full of himself.) Please, I don't mean to sound like, "Tom Welling didn't just show up to play a guy who just stands there."

JS: Do you know your character's full arc?

TW: Yes.

JS: So you know how to play him?

TW: I don't really know how to play him, but I know what mini-arcs and the breaks are for the character. But how they play out in each script I find out every eight days when they give us a script. It's so tough, 'cause I feel bad; I want to tell you guys everything, but I can't. It's so weird for us — we're on episode 8 or 9 shooting. Last Monday's episode was a standalone, and I turned it on and I kept waiting for myself to be in it. What I like about this show — one of the reasons — [is] if you rewatch this show, those two scenes of Lucifer talking to Sinnerman, and Chloe and Decker in the car? They're giving you information in there that I didn't necessarily see right at the beginning. And [in] the standalone episode that aired last Monday, at one point Chloe leaves to talk to the Lieutenant, [and] there's all these little tidbits about who people are. It's a very interesting, well-written show. I almost feel like you want to watch this show and just enjoy it the first time and then watch it again for the information.

JS: Looking for the visual cues and interactions, there's a lot that is said without words at all.

TW: Like when Lopez was talking to Decker about the slow-motion Pierce (The scene mentioned has Weller carrying a desk in slow motion with his flexing biceps being focused on by the camera), there's more in the looks than in the dialogue.

JS: To me, it was when the Sinnerman and Pierce were kind of looking at each other when he was at the ambulance.

TW: Oh, maybe that means something.

JS: Maybe.

Tom Welling

So that was it, other than a giant S'mores dessert that blew my calorie count for the day. Make sure to check out this episode of Lucifer, because it's what's going to carry forward the story for the rest of the season.

You can follow Joshua Stone on Twitter @1NerdyOne.