Tricia Helfer on Her ‘Lucifer’ Debut: Mum’s The Word

Tricia Helfer and Tom Ellis (Credit: Fox)
Tricia Helfer and Tom Ellis (Credit: Fox)

On the season finale of Lucifer, Mr. Morningstar, in a panic to save Chloe and Trixie after being shot, cut an unspoken deal with his absentee father, God. In return for being healed, he’d have to find and reimprison one of his former captives in the underworld. Cut to binge drinking and the devil’s supersad/scared (but still sexy) face as he revealed that the runaway was none other than his mom.

It’s pretty safe to say Lucifer’s convinced that mommy fearest is hell-bent on revenge, but Battlestar Galactica alum Tricia Helfer, who will portray his parent/prisoner, hints that the devil did make her do it but possibly not for all the reasons viewers or her son might expect. Helfer chatted with Yahoo TV exclusively last month about mum’s possible motivations, why she wanted to join the cast, her character’s hatred of humans, and the devil’s tight Prada pants problem.

What made you want to take this part?
Well, I thought the first season was a lot of fun. The tone of the show is a hard one to get right as it is part procedural, part mythology. It’s based off of a comic and it’s its own thing as well. And a lot has to be said for everybody involved, but Tom Ellis, who plays Lucifer, he brought such a charm to the character, to the devil, who you’re supposed to dislike. It was just a really fun show to watch. They really found their stride in the second half of the season. And the way that it was set up [to introduce] mom, obviously, intrigued me right off the get-go.

Us too. There were just so many ways to go with the mother of the devil, who had been his prisoner in hell.
To be honest, my concern was, is she just going to be evil and kind of one-note? Sometimes those type of characters can be. I sat down with one of the writers/producers/showrunners, and she talked me through the first five or six episodes. I was drawn in immediately by the layers of the character. She has an agenda. There’s a lot of different things about the character. She’s not just the mother of the devil coming in and trying to seek revenge. She’s a mother who loves her son and wants what was taken from her. There’s a lot of comedy to the character and we get a lot of heart.

Does she escape with a purpose or does she just want to take a sinful vacation from hell as Lucifer did?
Does she have an agenda? Yes. Do I know all of it yet? No. But I honestly believe some of her motivation for escaping is to make up for lost time with her kids.

Tricia Helfer (Credit: Michael Courtney/Fox)
Tricia Helfer (Credit: Michael Courtney/Fox)

Lucifer has tons of daddy issues. In the season finale, they made it seem like his relationship with mom is no walk in the park either. What can you tell us about their history?
Well, I can’t divulge too much. What I can say is there definitely are mommy issues there. One of the fun things about the show, I think, is even though you’re talking about the devil and celestial beings and so forth, they are at the end of the day like any normal dysfunctional family with daddy issues, mommy issues, and brother issues. They’re just to an extreme. There definitely is a lot of miscommunication between Lucifer and his mother that we will reveal in episode 2. There have been a lot of unresolved issues between them. He definitely is under the impression that his mom will be out for revenge. Not only with him, but against humanity. So there are definite reasons for his anxiety and concern surrounding his mom getting out. They definitely have quite a history.

I immediately wondered, when he said God asked him to find and return his mother back to hell, if eventually he’d make a deal and form a partnership with his mom because I am guessing she probably ended up in hell in the first place because of her baby daddy.
He definitely likes to make deals, often to benefit himself, and just like there’s mommy issues and daddy issues with Lucifer, there are also mommy and daddy issues against each other. She’s unhappy with dad. I mean, he did put her in hell. So mom certainly does have an agenda, but I think one thing that’s really interesting about the character and that people may not be expecting is that there is a very maternal side to her as well. She loves her children. I’ve only read scripts of five at this point, so I don’t know [what happens] past that, but I feel some stuff’s coming that gets the story further along what she is planning. She’s been held in hell; she didn’t put herself there. It would be reasonable to assume she’s mad about it and doesn’t want to go back. A lot will be revealed in Episode 2, including a lot of Lucifer’s daddy issues. When you meet mom fully, there’s a big heart-to-heart that ends up happening between Lucifer and his mom where the audience will then understand a lot of the crux of where these issues are stemming from.

Tricia Helfer and Tom Ellis (Credit: Michael Courtney/Fox)
Tricia Helfer and Tom Ellis (Credit: Michael Courtney/Fox)

The showrunner teased a sure-to-be-delicious moment where one of the kids winds up accidentally flirting with mom because she has taken over such a gorgeous body.
Yes, there has been quite a few of them already. I think me coming in a similar age [as the sons] is confusing. Obviously, the body mom took over was not the way mom always looked to them. So it’s fun to play with. There’s a little joking about Oedipal complex going on. The scene that Joe [Henderson] was talking about was definitely fun to shoot, but there’s been a lot of really fun moments. She’s not setting out to be funny, but there’s a lot of comedy that I’m getting to do with the character that is more situational. There’s actually, in Episode 5, strong parallels with my own life. So I was giggling away, excited to play the scene. When I told my husband about it, he was like, “You’re not even going to have to act there.”

It was good because I had a scene with Lucifer alone and I had scenes with Amenadiel [D.B. Woodside] and mom alone together before we had scenes all together, which was nice for us as actors to kind of suss each other out and figure out how they would be with mom because a parent’s relationship with each child is different. We, obviously, know from the first season that Amenadiel has always followed his father quite strictly and Lucifer rebelled more against his father. So it’s interesting with mom now in the picture what that does to the brothers’ relationship as well. Amenadiel is going through his own issues; he’s having some trouble with his immortality as well. So it’s interesting to see the mix.

To have birthed those two, I figured they were going to have to cast someone quite striking. You certainly fit the bill, and that has to feel validating.
Ha. I certainly don’t look at myself that way, but what has been nice is they’re both tall and I’m tall. And I think in some way that also helps us and will help viewers meet and accept me as mom. Even though, again, this isn’t the way she looked to them. She’s taken over a body. But in the first couple of episodes where there are some real come-to-Jesus moments, and the fact that I’m there eye-to-eye with them, standing my ground, that can help when you’re having a harder conversation with someone. For me, that was nice to be able to be eye-to-eye with them and have a feeling of, “Yes, I’m their mother.” It’s a funny thing as I played a robot and a serial killer for many years, but I was a little concerned about pulling off a celestial being and having that kind of strength over these two strapping men. But I sat back and went, “But I did play a Cylon. I did play a serial killer. I’m neither, but it’s about getting into the character and finding out who she is. In the fifth episode, or sixth, we’re going to meet some more characters, possibly even other family members, and we’ll understand a lot more about how I could have birthed both D.B. and Tom. It’s a really fun element that they’re bringing in.

D.B. Woodside, Tom Ellis, and Tricia Helfe(Credit: Brendan Meadows/FOX)
D.B. Woodside, Tom Ellis, and Tricia Helfer (Credit: Brendan Meadows/Fox)

Do you think Six from the Battlestar Galactica reboot or the devil’s mom is more evil?
They’re in a completely different space. I think their similarity is in that they both feel their thinking or their side is right always. They both have a dislike for humanity. But with Six throughout the seasons and with each individual model of Six, her interactions with humans helped shape what she thought of them. Ultimately, some of them ended up helping the humans. She didn’t always hate them. That may occur with mom as well. I don’t know. But at this point, right off the get-go, I’d say Number Six is stronger and generally more of a bad guy, but I think there’s a side of mom coming out that’s hinted at that could change that balance a little bit.

You are quite the tomboy. You ride motorcycles and like to do stunts when possible. Do you get to use any of that?
We haven’t yet. At this point, I don’t see mom doing that, but who knows? It would certainly be fun if I got to. I’m personally pretty much a tomboy. I grew up on a farm, fixing farm machinery, driving quads, and things like that. Mom is definitely not that. Mom is a little bit more, proper is maybe not the right word, but this isn’t her normal form so there’s a bit of awkwardness with her. She’s got a distaste for the form that she is in right now.

Has there been a particularly funny or weird or interesting day on set?
Tom split his pants in the first scene I did with him, and someone said that was his sixth pair to split. The suits are so tailored to his body, within an inch of his life really, so that little fashion emergency is so common that they keep count. It really helped break the ice for us, though.

Lucifer returns for Season 2 on Monday, Sept. 19 at 9 p.m. on Fox.