Mark Pellegrino deconstructs ‘Supernatural’s’ Lucifer and redemption

mark pelligrino deconstructs supernatural lucifer and redemption 2017 images

I had the chance to have another nice, lengthy chat with Mark Pellegrino recently about his character, Lucifer. Mark doesn’t need much introduction …

There’s been a lot of talk in the fandom about an article that you did – I don’t remember who it was with – but it had that quote that you said in this last episode [The Rising Son] about Lucifer being smart and not totally evil. There’s been a lot of talk about Sam’s experience with Lucifer and how badly he was tortured; when Sam and Lucifer do finally meet again in this season, is Sam still going to be so fearful of Lucifer? What are your thoughts on that whole situation?

I imagine Sam is going to have some PTSD. You don’t spend time in the cage and come out of that experience completely whole. I think he will have some residual feelings about the old Lucifer. The dynamics in the universe have shifted, or are going to shift to a degree that people’s feelings about each other don’t matter so much.

When the world was faced with fascism, America and the Soviet Union – sworn enemies ideologically – became allies. So weird things happen when universes shift.

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One of the other comments that I actually got involved in was someone was saying that they do not want to see Lucifer’s redemption, if Lucifer has a redemption arc. I said, if we don’t see Lucifer as a fully formed, well, angel in this case, he becomes just a one-dimensional foil for Sam and Dean, and honestly, that’s just boring. As the actor that plays Lucifer, I’m assuming that you prefer the roles where you have more than just a one-dimensional character to play.

I do. You can’t act what isn’t there, but I always try to add different dimensions to a character, that I don’t necessarily see on the page. Redemption of a character like Lucifer – I’m not even sure what it means. Just think about it. Just because I see the mythology of Lucifer in our culture as one massive paradox, you know what I mean? On the one hand, there are these absolutely noble characters that he possesses, and if we saw them in a human being, we would say, “This man is a king of virtue.” His stubbornness, resilience, his insurmountable will and his sense of justice … and the thing that he’s probably put down for most, his sense of pride.

To me, these are virtues. If I saw them in another person, instead of pride as in arrogance but pride as in a sense of justice and a feeling for your own ability to deal with the universe … it’s a different sensibility toward pride than the one that Western culture gives you.

On the one hand, I seem him as the first rebel against authority; whose own personal characteristics drove him to say no. The first to say no. I see him as the being that introduced humanity to its moral sense. The paradox in all of this is that all of these characteristics are seen as sins in a religious world. Instead of rebellion, conformity and obedience are seen as virtues. Instead of an independent mind, and a moral sense, submission is seen as a virtue. Humility instead of pride, so somehow our society adopted – they say whoever wins the war dictates the history. Lucifer lost the war, so the opposition made the history and turned values upside down.

So the guy who actually thinks he’s a figure of virtue, instead of vice, I don’t know what kind of arc that would be … to acknowledge the other side is right and to change from what he is, would mean embracing the opposite of what he stands for. I don’t want that to happen, but I do want healing to happen. I think that the bad parts of Lucifer’s character were bred from – I don’t think they are nature, I think they’re nurture, and this is an argument that was started by Sam. They’re just saying Lucifer is just inheritably bad, whereas Sam wants to apply a different kind of ethics to Jack, but I don’t think Lucifer is inheritably bad … I think his dad even said that. I think isolation from love and alienation from an entire universe, and being painted as the villain from time immemorial, can sour a person.

Just in the five days that I was painted as worse than the devil himself in the eyes of social media were annoying as fucking hell! I can’t imagine going through it for a fucking eternity. And not being pissed off at everybody.

That is so true.

So if you have a sense of pride and dignity, when you’re being attacked like that, it’s going to inspire a vast reprisal. I think Lucifer’s desire for revenge – I used to think that was what motivated him but it seems a little different. I don’t remember if it’s already been filmed or if it’s happening in the future, but Lucifer has a very specific take on creation and on his father. And it’s not what you think. It’s actually kind of interesting. You’re going to see it in a few episodes.

In this last episode, one of my favourite lines that Lucifer said something like, “You have no idea what I care about.” So what does Luci care about?

I love that line, especially now, because of all the flack and pain that a certain group of people put me through. I see that most of the battles that we fight are fought against straw men. We forget that underneath that straw man we’re hacking to death there is a human being, and the real thing. That’s what I think I meant to her. She knows what she thinks I care about; she’s got her ideas of me. But she doesn’t know me. And I’m not going to tell you what Lucifer cares about; I think it would be revealing spoilers.

That’s a great maxim that we should carry into life, don’t you think? You don’t know me, so stop acting like you do.

Do you think there was any correlation between that first opening scene with Lucifer and Mary, in this last episode where Mary’s like you’re going to kill me, and Lucifer’s like no, I’m not, and then at the end when Michael basically has Lucifer by the throat and Michael’s like I need you, I’m going to let you live – do you think there are any correlations between those two situations?

Oh yeah. I think that’s good writing, that’s power reversal right there, and Lucifer being put in Mary’s spot. Lucifer even said something about it in another episode. He’s definitely low man on the totem pole in this universe. What was so funny that he’s the low man on the totem pole in the narrative, which he keeps confronting, “What? This fucking place sucks!” Every time that he’s confronted with the narrative that Lucifer is dead, he’s actually confronted with the fact that he’s not top dog in that world. That’s pretty castrating.

One of the beautiful things that I love about Lucifer is his indomitable will. I don’t care where you find him, he’s still going to go, “Fuck ya. You’re not going to get me. You can tear me apart above the skies of Abilene, like you did to the alternate universe Lucifer, but my middle finger will still be flipping you off as I’m falling down to the ground.” You’ll see that too. You’ll see that Lucifer carries himself with his typical sassy, irreverent demeanor, no matter what horrible situation he finds himself in.

That’s where Lucifer is very different from me. I’m oversensitive, and very affected by the things that people say and do to me … I may not seem that way because you see me probably battling people all the time … but I’m sensitive to the things that they say, and I feel like I don’t want to challenge people to harm me. Lucifer would challenge people to harm him. He pushes the limit all the way to the end and says, “Let’s see how good you are, let’s see how strong you are. Let’s see if your will matches against mine.”

At the end of the premiere episode, which really had me bawling – the scene where Sam and Dean and Jack are saying goodbye to Cas, Kelly Kline and Crowley … I don’t know how much you want to talk about Crowley’s demise … but because Crowley has been Lucifer’s nemesis for so long, do you think he actually maybe misses him?

I hope you noticed that when Crowley showed up in the alternate universe, before he was sacrificed, Lucifer did something when he noticed it was Crowley. He kind of wriggled around on the ground and said, “Crowley!” That was sort of a spontaneous thing that happened in the moment … I think Lucifer’s character being what it is … he admires men and women without limits. He admires cleverness and intelligence and will. Crowley demonstrated the ability to outsmart him. He liked it … he liked the challenge … the challenge now of fighting this formidable being … like any great boxer is going to be defined by his opposition. Ali wasn’t Ali until he met Foreman and Frazier. And that’s what made him a champion.

The same with Lucifer … I think he would see things in the terms of bring me your biggest challenge and I’ll meet it. I think he would miss Crowley to be honest. Especially with this new guy Asmodeus coming up. That guy’s a real piece of work. I think he’s a lot worse and a lot more powerful than Crowley. Crowley was sort of an ambitious CEO … sort of a ruthless CEO, there was something about his intelligence that I admire. I don’t think that’s the same with Asmodeus, he’s a tyrant.

So in answer to that, I think yes, I think Lucifer would miss Crowley.

mark pellegrino lucifer with sam winchester

The season premiere really hit me, at the end when Sam is talking to Jack and explaining how you say goodbye to someone who has passed. (To read my review regarding this episode, go here.) Sam’s line – and Jared’s delivery of that line – was exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the right time. And that’s one of the reasons why I love Supernatural … it seems to have the timing of picking up on stuff that is the perfect timing for a lot of things. I know that’s the way it is for a lot of people as well.

I thought that was an interesting for Sam to say as well. I thought it was a great summation of the process of understanding death for the living. Here’s what I love about Supernatural – we all know that the story is about family … but it’s about orphans. It’s about people who’ve had to become their own guide in a crazy universe, and only had each other to rely on. That’s pretty powerful … so many of us come from broken homes, where we miss one parent or there are other abusive family relationships … if you come to the world fractured and you have to survive by your own wits. Being in a show like this, even as fantastical as it is … it’s possible to defy even a whole universe and be right. To be treated like they were, but still find love and loyalty … the family don’t end in blood thing is all about that. I think that’s why so many people find solidarity in the show itself.

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