And what would Helfer most like people to know about LUCIFER? “What I was really drawn into in the first season is that [Ellis] makes this character that is the Devil so charismatic, and he brings a vulnerability and a likability to this character. And I think with this season, we’re going to see more of his vulnerability.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: TRICIA HELFER ON “LUCIFER” By Abbie Bernstein
Turns out that even the Devil has mommy issues. On Season 2 of Fox Network’s LUCIFER, our titular antihero, played by Tom Ellis, is still helping LAPD homicide detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German), but now he’s also grappling with the fact that his mother Charlotte has escaped from Hell.
Not just anyone could tackle the role of God’s former paramour and the mother of angels. The producers turned to Tricia Helfer. The actress from Alberta, Canada is perhaps best known for her multiple roles as variation of the Cylon Number Six on the well-regarded remake of BATTLESTAR: GALACTICA. Helfer has also starred in other series, including BURN NOTICE, DARK BLUE, THE FIRM, KILLER WOMEN, ASCENSION, POWERS and the online fandom comedy CON MAN.
When Fox Network throws a party for the Television Critics Association press tour at Soho House in West Hollywood, Helfer is there to talk about her unusual new role.
First, though, Helfer provides an update on Acting Outlaws, the charitable foundation she founded with fellow BATTLESTAR GALACTICA star Katee Sackhoff. The two organize and participate in motorcycle events for good causes.
“It’s going well. The last ride that Katee and I did was in April. We did the Tulip Ride in Seattle for our sixth year of doing it. It benefits the Seattle Humane Society.”
Helfer says that LUCIFER’s fantasy/procedural genre status wasn’t a factor in joining the cast. “It’s much more care about the parameters of the job, not the genre. Working with either people that I’m going to be inspired by, or the storyline. Yes, LUCIFER fits into the genre, but it’s also not what I would typically think of as [genre], coming from BATTLESTAR, [which was] not a space show. So I don’t necessarily look just for genre. I look more about character – that’s what draws me in to begin with – and then who you’re going to be working with.”
Some people have taken issue with the fact that in reality, Helfer is too young to be the mother of Ellis and costar D.B. Woodside, who plays the angel Amenadiel. However, as Helfer points out, none of these supernatural beings are in their original form. “That’s the thing. When you’re body-stealing, it’s one thing where Sally Field was playing Tom Hanks’ mother, and in another movie, a year or two before, she played his love interest. I remember hearing something about that story. We’re not trying to play me off as somebody that could have realistically had them in terms of this body. This isn’t Mom’s human form. She didn’t have a human form. And this isn’t the first human vessel that she’s attempted to get into. There were just other things that happened, making her have to abort that mission, so to speak. So she just happenstance falls into this, and I think it’s good in the way that Lucifer and Amenadiel aren’t going to be expecting that this is her. So they really spend a lot of the first episode [of the season] trying to find her – they don’t know who they’re looking for. They know they’re looking for Mom, but they don’t know what she’s going to look like, or if she’s going to be a man. They don’t know what human vessel she’s going to be in.”
As far as playing mother to her costars, Helfer relates, “I think it was good that I had scenes with Tom, single, and I had scenes with D.B., single, before we all we in a scene together. And I think that was important for me, and I think for them as well, that we could then have that one on one time off-camera. We didn’t sit down and meet for weeks beforehand about it, no, but we did have that solid time together to talk and kind of get to know each other and get to know the parameters. With TV, you don’t know exactly what-all is coming. I don’t know what’s coming [toward the end of the season]. Actually, my height, I think, helped me in one way. Both of them are tall, they’re tall, strapping men, right? And you go, ‘You know what? Not that a mom couldn’t be a heck of a lot taller than them, but …’ I come in, and we did a scene together where it’s the three of us, and I’m looking at them eye to eye, and I’m having that conversation with them, and that sometimes brings in an element as well, just a physical element. But hopefully, I’m bringing the internal element of being their mother, and how they react to me. There’s been a lot of miscommunication and a lot of misunderstanding between these characters over the many, many years.”
Will LUCIFER reveal what the relationship was between God and Charlotte? Helfer says she discussed it with show runners/executive producers Ildy Modrovich and Joe Henderson. “Yes, we have our flippant version of how we described it. Joe and Ildy described it to me in layman’s terms of, ‘Okay, this is what happened, and then they fell in love and then …’”
This ultimately doesn’t affect how she approaches the role, Helfer adds. “That’s all just sort of our internal talking and figuring it out, because, I’m a celestial being. How do I play that? But then I’m like, ‘Okay, well, I played a robot on BATTLESTAR: GALACTICA. I played a serial killer in this or that or whatever.’ So at the end of the day, it’s a mother that wants to be with her children. And her children are maybe believing something that didn’t happen the way they’re remembering it, and that sort of thing. A lot of fans have said, ‘The mother of the Devil, she’s going to be evil.’ She’s been held in Hell herself. So it’s not like she’s the Queen of Hell. She was up in Heaven, and she’s been shackled in Hell for eons of years. The mother of angels, the wife of God. And again, this isn’t a documentary on religion. This is based on a comic book, and this is a fun, sexy, irreverent version of the Devil coming to Los Angeles. And so the writers, I think, [have] a lot of fun, because they get to take their spin on it. So we’re not following the comic book exactly. It’s their own spin on it, so for us. My research is the writers’ brains, what they’re looking for with building this character and the show.”
Speaking of BATTLESTAR, is Helfer surprised by the longevity and intensity of the continuing fandom for that series?
“You know, I am and I’m not. Because the show I think has kind of a timeless quality to it. There are new generations of people just watching it now. So it doesn’t have a time stamp, like, ‘Oh, that’s so dated.’ And I’m sure it will get to a point when it’s dated, but it’s not there yet. Tom didn’t watch it when it was one. He watched it while he was shooting in Prague, and another cast member had the DVD box set, and he watched it and binged it. I just ran into another actor [who is] on LETHAL WEAPON, and he was like, ‘Oh, I love that show, I’ve seen it four times in a row.’ So I feel incredibly grateful and incredibly lucky that I got to be part of it, and I say, ‘Let it live on,’ because I think it had a lot of self-commentary as well. It was a very smart show, a very well-written show that had a lot of social commentary and made people think. I will always be proud to have been part of it.”
And what would Helfer most like people to know about LUCIFER? “What I was really drawn into in the first season is that [Ellis] makes this character that is the Devil so charismatic, and he brings a vulnerability and a likability to this character. And I think with this season, we’re going to see more of his vulnerability. We’re seeing a lot of stripping away of parts of his character. Underneath is a relatable being who is just looking to have his Mom, and his Mom’s approval, and his Dad’s approval, even though he fights against his Dad and his Mom. At the end of the day, it’s any dysfunctional family, even though we’re talking about celestial beings, and we’re talking about this heightened sense of whatever, at the end of the day, it’s Daddy issues, Mommy issues, brother issues, and everybody can relate to that.”
Yes, LUCIFER fits into the genre, but it’s also not what I would typically think of as [genre], coming from BATTLESTAR, [which was] not a space show. So I don’t necessarily look just for genre. I look more about character