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Performers Of The Month - November Winner: Outstanding Actor - Tom Ellis

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For as long as modern civilization has existed there has been no greater contemporary symbol of pure dark evil than the Devil. This makes him a commonplace villain. From very early ages, even those that don’t come from overly religious families are told cautionary tales of ending up in Hell if they do certain things. Children are taught to fear the Devil, for he is the evilest of the evil. Because of these long engrained portrayals, very few shows have dared to portray the Devil as anything other than an evil being. That is, until Lucifer came along and turned the mythology of the Devil on its head, but to pull off this unique spin on the Devil they needed a performer that was likable, talented, and immensely charismatic. The casting directors must have thought they’d won the casting jackpot when Tom Ellis auditioned for the role of Lucifer. He embodies all the characteristics that the character required and is easily one of the most cheekily charismatic performers around at the moment. He is the living embodiment of what we mere humans have come to perceive as being angelic. He brings to the character an immense amount of heart and depth that likely ranges well beyond what the production team could have dared dream for in their lead. For all these reasons combined with his performances in the episodes Vegas With Some Radish (3x6) and Off The Record (3x7) is why he is being honored with the Performer of the Month title for the Most Outstanding Actor of November. It’s an honor that is long overdue.

A strong lead can make or break the bond of the overall cast of a show. Tom Ellis is the sort of lead that most shows can only wish they had, coming across to be very genuine in his love for his cast and the team that works behind the scenes. Ellis very often takes the time to praise what his co-stars are doing and what the production team is creating. Co-stars are often told to spew the company line in interviews about how much they love one another, but social media is where the truth often comes out. All it takes is one look at the social media accounts of any of his co-stars to see how beloved he is. The cast of Lucifer feels like they are indeed the family they all claim to be. It’s often easy to spot the casts that don’t have a fondness for one another. With this cast, all that comes across is a pure fondness for one another. That family atmosphere trickles down from the top.

As any honest actor will admit to, onscreen chemistry is hard. Some casts can work together for years upon years and certain performers have zero onscreen chemistry. In the case of some shows, there are certain pairings that writers absolutely have to avoid because the lack of chemistry immediately takes the viewers out of the moment. That is a problem that the writers on Lucifer simply don’t have. A big thing about Ellis’ Lucifer is that he has an ability to connect with just about anyone he meets. Ellis is blessed with a magnificent acting gift to be able to forge chemistry with all of his scene partners.

The Devil is often portrayed to not care about humans at all and to just want to exploit their natural born egos for nefarious means. This Lucifer isn’t like that. He likes to have his fun and enjoys human company and he will vigorously punish the evil, but for the good kind caring humans, he will fight fiercely to protect them. It’s a true testament to the writers that this character is how he is, but it’s also extremely, in large part, because of Tom Ellis that a character with this many layers and complexities could feel so relatable on screen. He has, in many ways, humanized the Devil and given him a depth that many of his Devil portraying predecessors have failed to accomplish.

Tom Ellis is the heart of Lucifer, but without each member of the series regular cast and recurring cast, he wouldn’t be able to do what he does. Ellis plays the title character and that’s enough to give any performer an ego that demands they dominate everything going on in the story and every scene they are in. There is humility to Ellis that doesn’t make him like that. He might be the title lead, but when the moment calls for it he steps back and allows his castmates to shine.

Up until about the halfway point of Season Two Lucifer had very firmly set pairings that worked together most of the time. Then the writers started to shake things up and show off new interesting dynamics. One of the most unique of those dynamics came between Lucifer and Ella (Aimee Garcia) simply because character-wise they are such opposites. It was that dynamic that was heavily showcased in Vegas With Some Radish (3x6). The simple fact that the writers can take this unusual pairing and build an entire episode around them and it just feels right is a testament to the aforementioned chemistry of this cast. Ellis and Garcia both have genius comedic timing so when they are let loose to work together what comes from their time together is usually richly hilarious. It is that chemistry and dynamic that made this episode work so utterly perfect.

The episode revolved around Lucifer and Ella trying to solve the assumed murder of Lucifer’s ex-wife Candy (Lindsey Gort). Turns out that Candy was very much so alive and well, but trying to figure out who killed her friend who just happened to look enough like her and be in the wrong place at the wrong time to get murdered in her place. This little adventure led to some previously unseen moments from Lucifer’s first foray to Vegas. We discover what led him to marry Candy in the first place, these scenes showed just how broken Lucifer was after the revelations regarding Chloe that led him to take off after helping to save her life. Lucifer was disheveled and lost, looking to run away from Chloe, not because he didn’t love her, but because he cared too much. He didn’t want to be around her because he believed then, and still does today, that she is only drawn to him because of his father. By running off he thought he was giving her a shot at being free even if it cost him his own happiness. The way Ellis showed Lucifer spiraling out of control was stunning in how controlled the descent was. It was in the dullness in his usually bright eyes and his slumped posture that really helped to sell Lucifer’s despair. Lucifer didn’t go out and marry Candy for no reason. In her, he found a kindred spirit who needed something he could offer and vice versa. Yes, he used her, but she used him as well, and therefore he didn’t feel like he did wrong by her. Because of Candy, he was able to essentially cut Chloe free and give her the opportunity to make her own life choices, or at least that’s what he believed he was doing.

The flashbacks in this episode were so important because it let the audience see Tom Ellis portray Lucifer in a broken way that he’s rarely been allowed to. Lucifer, by his nature of his angelic heritage, is seen as a big strong powerful being. In truth, he’s just as broken and screwed up as the humans he has chosen to surround himself with. He has daddy issues and a star-crossed love with a human woman he doesn’t know if he can actually ever be with thanks to the interference of his father. There is an immense ability in him to love and love fiercely. He actually has more love than he knows what to do with which seemingly is what fuels his sexcapades with any man or woman who wishes to sleep with him. In another testament to Ellis, even when Lucifer is sleeping around with virtual strangers he looks at them with this deep curiosity. There is a yearning within Lucifer to love and be loved and to understand what love truly is. Lucifer enjoys sleeping around and boasting about it, but that’s just the playboy persona he puts on for the rest of the world. Through the way Ellis portrays him it seems like each encounter, no matter how inconsequential it seems, teaches Lucifer something about humans or himself.

This particular episode was full of incredible moments that showed off this very caring side of Lucifer, but perhaps no more so than the very end. That was the sort of moment that fans had been waiting for all season. It was a beautiful tender moment where Lucifer confessed his heart to Chloe (Lauren German), whom he believed to be passed out drunk. There was such softness in his voice and pure love in his eye in the way he looked at her. When he gently touched her back it was done in such a soft and caring way. That little touch said so much about Lucifer’s feelings. Perhaps even more so than the words that preceded it. Ellis is one of those rare talents that can convey just as much with gestures and expressions as he can with words. He ensures that every word and every action has meaning.

The shining glory of this encounter came as Chloe stopped faking being asleep and Lucifer got a chance to give her the birthday gift he got her. In typical Lucifer fashion, he deflected the intense emotion of the moment with a joke, but that entire fa├žade shattered when Chloe embraced him into a hug. Despite spending almost the entire episode apart, German and Ellis showed, in this one tiny scene, so much heart and emotion. They showed off why their acting partnership works so well. They are both goofs who have great senses of humor and can volley lines off of each other like partners who have worked together for decades. But what this scene showed off, so beautifully, is how innocent and almost human-like Lucifer becomes in Chloe’s embrace. For that brief moment, when Lucifer rests his head on her should and buries his face in her shoulder this look of calm overcomes him. This sort of calm peaceful vulnerable moment can only be depicted with this much honesty between two performers who have the utmost respect and genuine trust in one another. This was a truly beautiful and stunning moment of acting by Tom Ellis, but Lauren German as well. His trust in her gave him the freedom to take Lucifer to a very vulnerable place.

As if that ending moment didn’t do enough to showcase the exceptional range Tom Ellis has, this same episode also allowed him to show off his phenomenal singing skills. He isn’t just a talented performer, but he quite literally has the voice of an angel. His singing skills add a little something extra to Lucifer as a character. Quite frankly the writers don’t write Lucifer singing nearly enough. No one would object if they wrote a musical episode and allowed Tom Ellis to just sing for all of it. If Tom Ellis for whatever crazy reason ever decides to stop acting he would have a terrific future as a singer. Let’s just hope that future never happens because he still has so much to offer the acting profession, plus Lucifer has many more seasons worth of story left in it and this episode highlighted everything that is so utterly perfect about this show and the way Tom Ellis portrays his character.

The episode that immediately followed this one, Off the Record (3x7), was a very unusual hour for the show. It took the point of view away from the normal leads and handed it off to a guest star. Still, it provided Tom Ellis with intriguing moments to portray. Through the main plot of the story the writers were able to dive more into Lucifer, how he views himself, as well as how others view him. There is this powerful scene where Lucifer confronts Reese (Patrick Fabian), who just happens to be the ex-husband of Linda (Rachael Harris). The confrontation comes about because Reese has figured out that Lucifer is the Devil and he crafted this whole big psychotic way to try and kill him which led to the sad death of an innocent woman. When the truth is revealed Lucifer will hear none of his nonsense and lays down a strong dose of reality. In this scene, Ellis portrays Lucifer as distraught over the loss of an innocent human in his club then angered over the realization that Reese more or less caused the death. He portrays Lucifer with big wide eyes and a boiling anger in his eyes yet at times during this tense exchange, a smirk appears on his face. This isn’t Lucifer being smug or even cocky, but laying down the law and he’s more than happy to school Reese in the semantics of Heaven and Hell.

Basically, from the time of Christ, Lucifer has been painted as the very symbolism of evil. Humans have been told he makes them sin and he does this and he does that and during this confrontation, Lucifer let the truth out. It is humans who sin. It is humans who condemn themselves. It is humans who determine their fate in Hell. The way Ellis delivered this scene it almost appeared to be cathartic for Lucifer. He’s sick and tired of being the bad guy in his own story. He can’t scream the truth to the masses, but when given the opportunity he was more than happy to correct Reese. Then as the encounter came to an end something clicked and he turned on Lucifer’s charm as Reese was made to confess what he truly wanted. Because of all the intricacies of Lucifer, it requires Ellis to do a lot of shifts within scenes and he handles each and every transition with perfect precision to give the moment the most impact possible. It is a trait that only the acting elite have truly perfected.

Tom Ellis has taken this character that everyone has preconceived notions about and taken ownership of him. He’s made the Devil a sympathetic character with an incredible amount of depth. It doesn’t matter who he’s in a scene with because he has chemistry with them all. This season hasn’t had much of Lucifer and Maze (Lesley-Ann Brandt), but the dynamic between Ellis and Brandt produces some truly impactful and incredible scenes. When he’s working opposite Rachael Harris there is almost a factual guarantee of laughter as these two have impeccable comedic timing. Then there is D.B. Woodside (Amenadiel) with whom Ellis has an incredible brotherly dynamic with. It’s very easy to believe them as brothers. And he’s had some terrific scenes with both Kevin Alejandro (Dan) and Tricia Helfer (Charlotte). And, he has flawless chemistry with Lauren German, Aimee Garcia, and Scarlett Estevez (Trixie). With all of them, he has very different dynamics serving to further show off his immense ability to connect with others on such varying levels. This is just a breakdown of the series regulars but he has exceptional chemistry with each and every guest star too. No matter what the writers throw at him he excels and delivers stunning work.

All of the above reasons are why he was so appropriately honored with the title of November’s Most Outstanding Actor, but there are so many other reasons. As the lead, he has a plethora of other noteworthy scenes that there simply wasn’t enough room in this article to cover. Please feel free to use the comments to discuss all the exceptional acting moments from Tom Ellis that aren’t covered here.

PLEASE READ: Please keep comments on topic and just discussing the performances of the winner.

Special thanks to Donna Cromeans, freelance editor/proofreader (@DJRiter on Twitter) for editing this article.

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