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Performers Of The Month - Readers Choice Most Outstanding Performer of May - Tom Ellis



Article led by Aimee Hicks with additional contributions by Jamie Coudeville & Jessica Lerner. Article edited by Donna Cromeans (@DJRiter). Article prepared for publication by Aimee Hicks.

They say that the mettle of a man is defined by how fiercely he'll fight for the things and people he loves. Throughout television history, many shows have been canceled, but extremely few leads have fought as diligently or fiercely as Tom Ellis did for Lucifer. With hours left on cast contracts, Netflix announced that they were picking up the show. It was a miracle, because, honestly, fan campaigns have a notoriously low success rate. Over the past month, Ellis showed just how much he cares for this show and how long and far he'll fight for it. He is a true class act and when that is added to his incredible talent he is the complete package. He is humble in the part he played in resurrecting the show, but there is no doubt in the eyes of the fans that he was the General that they followed into battle. Any General can dish out orders but the truly iconic ones lead the charge into battle. The fans immediately screamed their outcry at the cancellation, but they rallied into action so fast because Tom Ellis immediately made himself visible to the masses of fans that gathered. He dished out the battle cry and everyone fell in line to fight by his side. Very few performers can ever say that they pulled off what he did. Make no mistake, he wasn't alone, the entire cast was fighting right along with the fans, but even they seemed to take their lead from him. Lucifer found its new, much better, home at Netflix because of a collective effort, and this campaign and Tom Ellis's valiant leadership will not soon be forgotten. All of this combined with his sublime performance in the season finale makes it clearly evident why he won the title of Reader's Choice Most Outstanding Performer of May.

Tom Ellis was tasked with playing the Devil, not an easy job given the social stigma that comes with the mere mention of the name. Since the early days of organized religion, the Devil has been a symbol of pure evil. The very idea of any writer trying to show the possibility that the Devil is good at heart was considered sacrilegious. The Devil was meant to eternally be the most prominent symbol of darkness. Some writers have dared to challenge that rhetoric, but few have been able to make a lasting impact. Perhaps it was because they didn't have the right person to bring their words to life. Tom Ellis by his very nature is charismatic and stoic. His ability to deliver sarcastic humor and heartbreak in the same sentence is unparalleled. He can make viewers laugh while they're crying and cry while they laughing. He has infused so much heart into Lucifer that it's impossible to see him as anything other than a lost soul full of redemptive qualities. No other performer could bring this richly complex character to life any better than Tom Ellis.

The episode he won for was the season finale, A Devil of My Word (3x24), and it picked up in the wake of Charlotte's (Tricia Helfer) murder. This was an overall emotionally heavy episode. Lucifer was not immune to any of this which meant Ellis was put through the wringer as he took Lucifer on this intense journey. The episode jumped right into the emotions as Lucifer and Chloe (Lauren German) watched Charlotte's body be taken away. Right away Ellis was pulling at heartstrings as he took Lucifer through the process of accepting the fact he'd never see Charlotte again. His reasoning behind that was heartbreaking. He knew she was going to Heaven where he could never see her again. He knows Chloe will get to see Charlotte again, but he doesn't believe he will ever be granted that privilege. The way Ellis delivered the lines, so matter of factly truly sold just how little Lucifer thinks of himself at this point. He’s lost sight of any hope of seeing home again, of ever being good enough to be allowed back home. He almost seems at peace with this false truth, but it’s evident that the idea still makes his heart ache. By the end of the hour Lucifer began to embrace that he might not be an evil monster and he might one day get to go back to the home of his birth, but here, in the beginning, it was still a very real struggle for him. Ellis perfectly captured that. As usual, Lucifer tried to hide his heartache behind a soft smile, seemingly done just to comfort Chloe, which, in and of itself, was very telling of the journey he was about to go on in this hour.

As the scene transitioned to Lucifer and Pierce (Tom Welling) talking, Lucifer's demeanor changed. He had tried to be strong and stoic for Chloe, but the moment he was away for her the tension of the situation was immediately visible. He was tense and unnerved, very uncharacteristic of Lucifer, but that just made his reaction all the more impactful. It was the start of his journey to get justice for his beloved friend. Ellis played the scene in such a way that it was obvious that Lucifer had blinders on. He was so focused on Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside) taking Charlotte to Heaven that he missed some of the major signs Pierce was expressing that made it obvious he was Charlotte's murderer. This was a great launching point for the many confrontations to come and Ellis handled the scene beautifully to build into all that came afterward. He and Tom Welling have had a great push and pull dynamic since the start of the season, so it is always fun to see them share scenes, especially in later confrontational moments.

Upon confirming Pierce is the Sinnerman to Chloe and Dan (Kevin Alejandro), Ellis manages to portray Lucifer as a reasonable and rational individual while keeping the character's usual bravado. For all of Lucifer's talk about celestial beings, Heaven and Hell and God, he usually relishes in Chloe's disbelief. Ellis manages to ever so slightly shift his tone to hurt and vulnerability by Chloe's continued incredulity while still staying within the confines of the character. It's such a delicate balance as Lucifer tells Chloe, "I haven't made up anything Detective. I always tell you the truth, no matter what." With any less skilled actor, this line could have come across as arrogant or insincere or provocative, but Ellis's sincerity shines through. Having finally convinced Chloe of the possibility Pierce could be the Sinnerman – a feat in and of itself – the detective's eyes are then opened when she realizes Pierce did indeed kill Charlotte. Continuing with Lucifer's rare moment of unwavering seriousness, he then confirms Chloe's theory with a simple line deftly delivered. As the trio try to formulate a plan, Ellis skillfully continues Lucifer's honesty without its usual boastfulness and flair, taking the character's performance to the next level as Lucifer tells Chloe, "They're not metaphors."

This episode was jam-packed with memorable performances by Tom Ellis. He poured his heart and soul into this episode and it showed. But what was nice about this episode, was that while Ellis got so many great moments to shine all on his own, he was also given many powerful scenes with his co-stars. The entire middle section of the episode consisted of him working together with Chloe, Dan, and Ella (Aimee Garcia) as they tried to prove Pierce murdered Charlotte and trying to track him down. He got that great confrontation scene opposite Tom Welling and that was deliciously fierce allowing Ellis to dig deep into Lucifer's anger toward the man that murdered one of his friends.

But some of his richest material in the middle part of the hour occurred with the group working to bring down Pierce. The Penthouse gathering with the others provided for some great acting moments for Ellis to play off of many of his brilliant co-stars. He really didn't get nearly enough scenes with Alejandro or Garcia this season, so it was lovely to get to see him work opposite them so much in this episode. He got terrific moments with both of them. It was nice to see Lucifer and Dan working with a common goal at hand because it allowed Ellis and Alejandro to share some great moments like at the party where Lucifer had to pull Dan off of Pierce's suspected accomplice. It was interesting to see Lucifer be the logical clear-headed one of them. Ellis played the moment in a way that allowed the usual banter between the two to play in the scene while also showing Lucifer being gentler than normal with him.

One of the most poignant scenes he had with anyone outside of Lauren German occurred with Aimee Garcia, as Lucifer and Ella talked on the penthouse balcony. It was one of the first times Lucifer verbalized that he no longer blamed his father for Pierce. This scene showed how far Lucifer has come in his journey of self-discovery. Instead of his usual angst and anger when he talked about his father, he seemed rather at peace about him. Ellis played Lucifer as reserved and clearly emotionally exhausted by what was going on, but he showed that Lucifer was still trying to be the rock for everyone. That contrasted with how Garcia played Ella as becoming disenchanted with God. This shift in both characters made for a dynamic scene. Garcia has such an infectious bubbly personality that she infuses into Ella, which is usually in contrast to Ellis's Lucifer, and something about that makes for some terrific scenes between these two. This scene was no exception. These two are terrific scene partners. There really is no one that Tom Ellis doesn't have on-screen chemistry with and that is the sign of a truly special performer. Any actor can try to fake chemistry, but it is the elite who don't have to fake because they've put in the time and effort to build real rapport and trust among those with whom he works.

The scene in the alleyway with Chloe and Lucifer was the start of big things for Lucifer. This scene was a relatively quick one in the greater scheme of things, but Tom Ellis still managed to convey so much in this short moment. At the start of the scene Ellis portrays Lucifer as cocked and ready for a fight, but the moment Chloe starts talking his posture softens. Lauren German and Tom Ellis have had impeccable chemistry from the very beginning and it has only matured and grown to more impressive heights as the seasons have gone on. While this scene was a big Chloe moment, in fact, it was the signaling of the beginning and end of her celestial innocence, it was also a huge moment for Lucifer. After a long sometimes heartbreakingly painful season Lucifer has finally come to realize that he may not be the evil Devil of folklore after all. When Ellis delivered that line there was a tiny bit of hesitation and a drop in his tone that beautifully expressed all the underlying emotions that were involved with Lucifer making that confession. It was a truly powerful declaration and one that was important to make at this point given what was about to occur. He was at peace with himself as a good being full of redemptive potential, but before the episode was over he would once again be forced to confront his darker side.

What followed this sequence was some of the most intense moments of the entire series. Tom Ellis navigated them in such a way that the audience member couldn't help but feel everything Lucifer was experiencing. First up, was when Pierce sprung the trap on Chloe and Lucifer. Ellis kept Lucifer looking calm, cool, and collected on the outside but tiny actions showed how tense Lucifer was. From tightening of his jaw to a wild fierce look in his eyes, he made sure that the audience knew exactly what Lucifer was experiencing. Then, Chloe stepped in front of Lucifer, using herself as a human shield and willing to take a bullet for him. In that moment, his calm exterior instantly gave way to unnerving concern. Seeing Lucifer concerned about something is usually a clue that the situation they are in is extremely serious. He changed the look in his eyes to one of primal fear. Ellis tensed his entire body showing that Lucifer was ready to react in a split second to protect Chloe if it came to it, which it did. It's clear through Ellis's superb performance that Lucifer was terrified for Chloe and was willing to do almost anything to get her out of the situation they found themselves in. And that is just what would come to pass.

When Chloe was shot all attempts to remain in control went out the window. In an instant, Ellis shifted Lucifer from battle mode to protector mode. His eyes went wide, and he dove to get his arms around her. This scene was a stunning display of the trust Lauren German has in Ellis. She did a blind fall back into him and he was there for her all the way to the ground. Together they upped the tension of the moment with just this single act. Then it was all in Ellis's hands as he showed Lucifer protectively cradling Chloe. As Lucifer cradled her, Ellis and his powerful ability to convey emotion were on full display. Lucifer's eyes were wide in fear when Chloe didn't respond to him as the impact of the bullet hitting her chest knocked her unconscious. All Lucifer knew is Chloe was injured and that brought out an entirely different side of him. When Pierce's henchmen opened fire, the scream that Ellis let loose was terrifying. The viewer could feel Lucifer's surge of adrenaline pulse right through the screen. This was the most iconic and profound moment that Ellis has ever portrayed in the series. Seeing Lucifer wrap his wings around Chloe's unconscious body then shield her from the rain of bullets was a powerful image that won't soon be forgotten. It was made more haunting by the emotions playing out on Ellis's face. The look of pained anguish that overcame him as he felt the searing pain of every bullet piercing his wings was something that can only properly be described as, wow. Hearing Lucifer's whimpers and that big guttural scream of pain were powerful touches Ellis infused into the moment. But the ironic thing is that even though Chloe makes him mortally vulnerable he had never been stronger than he was in that moment. Ellis made that very clear in how he played the moment.

This whole terrifying encounter ended with Lucifer whisking Chloe away to safety on the roof. He checked on her to discover that the bullet had thankfully only impacted her vest. Ellis made this moment extremely tender. He held German in such a way that it made it look like Lucifer was afraid he might break his human love. As Lucifer traced the bullet only Ellis's hand could be seen and yet, somehow, beyond explanation, he managed to portray Lucifer's awe at the detective's resilience and cunning bravery. That interpretation was largely confirmed when the camera panned up to show Lucifer peering down at Chloe as she regained consciousness. There was a combination of awe and relief as he looked down at her. Ellis played this whole sequence in such a tender and gentle way that said so much when he said so little. This moment felt like an oasis of calm as it fell in-between two major action sequences and the way Ellis portrayed this quiet moment really helped set the mood for what was to come. After this moment he turned a switch and chaos was to come as Ellis shifted Lucifer from tender and concerned back into warrior angel mode.

When Lucifer takes on Pierce's minions there's a lot of CGI involved for the wings, but even when focusing solely on Ellis' performance, it's clear what the main emotion in this scene is: rage. It's visible in everything he does. Every facial expression and movement shows his anger. And when Lucifer sees Pierce, it intensifies. That grin that Ellis gives him, eyes wide, shows how much Lucifer has been looking forward to this moment.

As much as Lucifer wants to kill Pierce, you can tell by his expression when Pierce takes out the blade that he's happy to finally have a worthy opponent to fight. Ellis goofs around at first, showing that Lucifer thinks of this fight as a game until he gets cut. After that, his expression goes serious, no more laughing. He's so arrogant at the moment when he wins the fight. But as Pierce is laying there, you can see the high of the fight wear off. As he's reminding Pierce of how he failed, you can see in his facial expression that he's enjoying this. He's once again becoming more and more Devil.

The final moment of the episode was perhaps the most difficult for Ellis to portray. He had to play the moment completely oblivious to what German was reacting to. After winning his fight against Pierce and killing him, Lucifer's Devil face was restored. It was the moment fans have waited three full seasons for and Ellis did a great job of portraying it. He perfectly played Lucifer's confusion as Chloe was across from him having a full-on freak out as she stared straight at Lucifer's true face. Ellis made the decision to play Lucifer in a very relaxed way at this moment. His nemesis was dead, and Chloe was safe, so he thought they were in the clear. For this scene to have worked both German and Ellis had to be on point in their portrayals of the big reveal. And both really delivered, especially Ellis. Lucifer was coming off the high-intensity action battle with Pierce and Ellis could have easily played this scene still tense and agitated, but the route he went instead was the perfect portrayal. His obliviousness to the situation is what really sealed the cliffhanger aspect of the scene and seeing him calm, cool, and relaxed made the moment impact hard.

The ending of this episode nearly became the final moment of the series, but thankfully that isn't the case. What it is now is the start to a whole new journey for Lucifer, Chloe, and all their friends. Lucifer will have to come to terms with what it means for him to have his Devil face back and Chloe will have to come to terms with who Lucifer really is. Ellis will inevitably have some amazing material to work with next season as he will have to confront Lucifer’s dark side and reconcile that while also trying to figure out how to incorporate Chloe into every aspect of his life. There are a lot of amazing stories and journeys ahead for Lucifer and all of characters to navigate through.

Tom Ellis, as has already been noted, is the true leader of Lucifer. From the moment the cancellation was announced to the moment the big pickup save was declared, he was visible to the fans fighting for the show he loves and that made all the difference in the world. And his drive to fight on paid off because the fans of the show followed his lead as did his co-stars and the overwhelming power of this combined force made several distributors step up and take notice. What made this campaign different? Simply put, Tom Ellis. He played his part to help save the show so we can all enjoy his devilishly good acting as Lucifer for many seasons to come.

This was a huge episode for Tom Ellis which means that he had far too many standout moments to cover every single one of them in this article. Please use the comments section to discuss all amazing moments in this episode and this season.

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

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