The following Q&A is a free-for-all when it comes to Lucifer Season 4 spoilers, so if you have not yet finished your binge 1) What the Hell? and B ) come back later!
As Lucifer Season 4 enters its third week of existence on Netflix (and now that the busy Upfronts season is behind us), TVLine presents this post mortem Q&A with co-showrunners Joe Henderson and Ildy Modrovich.
TVLINE | So, what do you think of the end result compared to your expectations going in? Because the response to Season 4 on Netflix has been pretty overwhelming.
JOE HENDERSON | Meh. [Laughs]
ILDY MODROVICH | I mean, holy crap. It’s just been great. I feel like we’re getting spoiled. I don’t know if I could ever handle it when bad reviews came or something, because I feel so spoiled and grateful right now. How about you, Joe?
JOE | It’s been absolutely amazing. For one, I can’t believe how fast people binged it. Like, it’s been absolutely amazing to have people, when I woke up the morning that we dropped, already be either finished or about to finish. And the number of people that by the end of the day had watched the entire thing was amazing. We’ve been sitting on this thing completed for six months, and I’ve never experienced that before. I’ve been dying to share it with the world, because we’re so proud of it. And then, you get that moment of, “I hope everyone enjoys this as much as we do, or are we just crazy?”
ILDY | Exactly. Exactly.
JOE | It’s been so gratifying that people seem to love it.
TVLINE | I think this is a terrific example of how 10 episodes, at 50 minutes-a-pop, can be a completely satisfying, meaty TV season.
JOE | Thank you.
ILDY | Thank you, indeed.
JOE | It’s funny, because 10 episodes at first was freeing, and then it was scary, and then it was awesome, because you’re able to focus everything and make it all pay off. You are able to create something very meaty, both by expanding the runtime a bit, but also just by having the time to craft 10 episodes where every episode absolutely has to count. Not that they didn’t before, but you just have time to refine, and strengthen, and infuse them with as much story and character as possible.
ILDY | I think Tom [Ellis] said this recently, that there’s no room for fat. It’s lean and mean. Or maybe it was you, Joe, who said it — sometimes I smush the two of you together in my head.
JOE | We’ll say it was me.
ILDY | We’ll pick Joe. But actually, you did say it, too, and it is really true. All the setups and payoffs happen so much more in a streamlined way. You don’t have to find them through the haze; instead it sort of hits you, more viscerally, more emotionally. In a way it’s a double-edged sword, because you miss some of the extra kind of character moments you can take in a longer series, with some of the characters who aren’t Lucifer and Chloe. But I actually didn’t even feel that this season, because I did feel like we got the chance to go deeper with Lesley[-Ann Brandt], go deeper with Kevin [Alejandro], go deeper with Aimee [Garcia], Rachael [Harris], DB [Woodside]…
TVLINE | Everybody got their moments. Like, at the start of the season, I was thinking, “Hmm, it doesn’t seem like DB’s in it that much…,” but then midway through, he was played heavy.
JOE | It’s funny you bring that up, because one of the challenges for the first three episodes was that Lucifer and Chloe’s story was so dark and so driven and so emotional that our supporting mythology — which normally is one of the things that’s bringing us darker — actually had to act as a bit of the lighter side. That was something we sort of found along the way, which is we ended up having [Amenadiel and Linda] play a more playful story, and the pregnancy actually fit really well. And then the minute we could, we started to pivot [Linda and Amenadiel] back towards the other stuff. We almost needed them to balance because of the gravity of what was happening with Lucifer and Chloe.
ILDY | It worked out strangely in that we got to laugh with them so much around the pregnancy and the baby, and what’s the rule — “Make them laugh and then break their heart”? It’s nice, because we were all invested in them as parents, and in that baby, and that it worked in our favor. We got to later use it for drama.
TVLINE | Rattle off a couple of your favorite moments from Season 4.
JOE | Ildy’s cameo [in Episode 2, bothered by Amenadiel in a coffee shop].
ILDY | I literally love how fast it goes by. That’s my favorite thing about it, but yeah, I think I’ve blocked it out that it’s even in there. [Laughs] I mean, the dance in the last episode, that fantasy sequence… I loved that moment.
JOE | Lesley-Ann [Brandt] singing was a highlight for me. Her voice was amazing. It was great to have someone other than Lucifer sing there, and it was something we talked about with Lesley-Ann for a while, and that was just a great experience. Also, the emotional scene at the end of [Episode] 9; I think Lauren [German] is the MVP of the season, and to have to act against Tom while he’s wearing the [green screen] cap and dots. Tom meanwhile was able to convey such humanity and that level of emotion, even with the digital work…. The craft from both of them was incredible, and it was incredible to watch as we shot it.
ILDY | That’s definitely one of my favorite scenes. I think it’s just so delicately played, and carefully crafted, and then just so beautifully acted. I remember watching it before the effects were in, and being as moved by it. I also think DB’s performance, though I can’t really pick one scene, in [Episode] 8 was amazing to me….
TVLINE | And Aimee [Garcia] going all-out for the Molly sequence.
JOE | That’s exactly what I was about to say, Aimee in [Episode] 5. It’s funny, someone just posted, “Aimee, I can’t believe how fast you can talk,” and I was like, “Oh, no, that’s just her normal speed.” The fun of the season has been taking the things we know our actors can do, and pushing them in directions that they are excited to go. I mean, Kevin [Alejandro] is just fantastic in every scene, and your heart goes out to him because of what Dan is dealing with… It’s been a delight to get a chance to showcase what all of our actors can do.
ILDY | Oh my God, I just thought of a couple more. Sorry, I’ve got to do it. I’m thinking of moments where I cried, like when Maze and Trixie make up and hug — I love that moment. And I’m going to self-aggrandize and say I really do like the axe scene in Episode 2, because it felt like a weird companion piece to the scene in the first season, when she sees his scars on his back—
JOE | Which you also wrote.
ILDY | I think in a weird way it was like a bookend. But you don’t plan on things like that, they just kind of happen. And when they do, you’re like, “That’s fun.” I also love the scenes between Graham [McTavish] and Inbar [Lavi] in [Episode] 9 and 10…I just love those two together. They were awesome. So, there you go.
JOE | I have one final answer, which is I loved it when Trixie read Skyward, available from Image Comics in your comic store [and written by Henderson].
TVLINE | And here I thought you were going to say “when Trixie was grilling Eve.”
JOE | Oh my God, that was so much fun.
ILDY | I love that scene, too.
TVLINE | You talked about Tom standing there wearing the cap and the dots for that big, “full devil” scene. Could you have done that on Fox, practically speaking?
JOE | You know, honestly, the answer is yes. The fascinating thing is, a couple things happened. One, we knew we were headed toward this, so we saved some money in anticipation of it, but two, the face-mapping has gotten so much better and so much more affordable. I mean, if you go through our seasons, please don’t focus on the Season 1 devil face, because it wasn’t great at times. But the technology has improved so much in these last couple years. At the end of Season 3, when Lucifer says, “Detective?” and he’s got the devil face on, two months before shooting we were told we couldn’t [have the devil face speak], and then literally as we’re in prep, they’re like, “Oh, yeah, you can have him say anything.” And we’re like, “Wait, what changed?” They’re like, “Technology.”
We wanted to see full devil, so we were like, “We’ll figure out how to get the money,” and one of the funny things is limitations become your strengths. Like, the fifth episode [of Season 4], which is one of my favorites, is a bottle episode. It takes place almost entirely in LUX, so we saved a bunch of money there. But it’s also a great episode, because they’re all trapped…. So yeah, the answer is we could have pulled it off financially. A lot of people have been posting, “This is Netflix money,” and while I wish I could say yes on that, we actually have the same budget. Actually a little less, I think.
TVLINE | I’m in the process of watching screeners for Designated Survivor‘s own Netflix rescue, and they have everybody swearing, man. Even his 11-year-old daughter. How did you decide who on Lucifer was going to cuss?
ILDY | Very sparingly. It’s so funny. Joe pulled me back a couple times, like, “Do we really need to say “f—k” right now? Do we really need to do that?” I’m like, no, OK.
JOE | We tried an F-bomb and it just felt a little weird. It was good that we tried it, because we sort of wanted to see how it felt. It’s like when you get a toy and you start playing with it, and then you start to realize that maybe this toy, as fun as it is to play with, isn’t the right toy to play with on the show. Families watch our show, like older families, and while we wanted to both make a show that pushed the boundaries, we also didn’t want it to feel unnecessarily profane. We did say “s—t” a couple times. And we used a “bulls—t” when absolutely necessary, or we tried to.
TVLINE | I want to preface this next question by stressing that Inbar Lavi was so, so good. That said, there was a lot of Eve this season. Did that concern you at any point?
ILDY | Did it concern us? I could say Eve concerned us in the conception, maybe, but we’d had such terrific luck with, like, Tricia [Helfer], and when we got Inbar, we were like, “OK, this woman can act.” And then, when we saw that very first scene in Episode 3 where she has one frickin’ line, “An apple martini, please,” she made so much out of that moment. I fell in love with her in that scene and was like, “OK, more, please.” We started calling her the ultimate empath, and I think that’s why she was so lovable, because she would connect with people in such an honest way. And because she’s the first woman, the first mother, we thought that was fitting. She just embraced this innocence, and this purity…
TVLINE | That’s really what it was. Like, as light and fun as she was, she was never a ditz, you know?
ILDY | Right.
JOE | There was an emotional intelligence to her that we really wanted to focus on, and make sure that while she might not know how the world works, and while she might be super-excited about everything in almost a childlike way, she is one of the oldest people that’s ever existed. Even though she’s in a lot of the season, the fun of it is, “OK, how does this new [person] change our characters?” How does it change Lucifer? How does she affect Ella? And then eventually Maze?
TVLINE | When Lucifer first got saved by Netflix, you talked to me about how these 10 episodes would be what Season 4A was originally going to be. So, if this was part of a 22-episode run, was your plan to end it with him going to Hell at midseason?
ILDY | That’s a good question…. I do know that demons were going to come up midseason, that it was going to be kind of “Hell on Earth” and how we deal with that. But as far as Lucifer going to Hell, I feel like that was a find, wasn’t it, Joe?
JOE | It was a floating element that we knew we were going to do at some point, and it could’ve potentially been midseason, it potentially could’ve been end of season. We were like, “OK, we know that we want this to happen at a moment where Lucifer and Chloe are closer than ever, but Lucifer feels torn between a responsibility for who he used to be.” We really wanted to arc Lucifer towards a genuine epiphany and realizing that he wants to be the man worthy of Chloe. So much of the arc of the season is, “I’m a monster, I don’t deserve you, “and him finally realizing that maybe he does. But “if I am good enough for Chloe, I also need to take on this responsibility.”
TVLINE | If you get a Season 5, will there be a meaningful time jump?
JOE | Good question.
ILDY | We can’t answer that one.
JOE | What I will say is that we have the opening sequence. We literally have had the opening sequence since we started Season 4.
ILDY | Yeah, we did. We also have one other, really fun toy to play with, that we know is going to be a big guiding factor in Season 5, so we’re excited about that, too.
TVLINE | Speaking of renewal, how does it work in Netflix-land? Do they give you any kind of a timetable for when they’ll let you know by? Or you just don’t know?
ILDY | They’ll hopefully let us know within a month [by June 8]. That tends to be how they do things with first-season shows, that they will hopefully let everyone know within a month. The bingeing and all the fan support helps with that.
JOE | To that point, the fan support is super-important, and in particular the [first] month is going to be crucial towards whether or not we get a Season 5, because they are paying attention.
TVLINE | Netflix likes people to binge things quickly and completely, yeah.
JOE | They do. And by the way, so far, the fan support has been amazing. It’s been everything you could ask for.