This interview contains spoilers for Lucifer season 5
Aimee Garcia was a late arrival to fantasy cop procedural series Lucifer in season two. The Chicago-born actress originally moved to L.A. in the early ‘00s to pursue an acting career after becoming dissatisfied with her job in finance, and she was soon picking up roles in Angel, Supernatural, Bones and a regular part in Showtime’s Dexter, before landing the part of Ella Lopez in Lucifer in 2016.
The character was a breath of fresh air for the series – an upbeat, sharp, and tactile forensic scientist, Ella still kept a slightly fearful distance from romantic entanglements …until very recently.
In season 5, Ella becomes involved with local reporter Pete Daily (Under the Dome’s Alex Koch). Pete seems like a genuinely sweet, nerdy guy, and Ella slowly let him get close to her, only to later discover that he was actually the disturbing serial killer that her team had been chasing all along.
It is a horrifying reveal, and a slap in the face for both Ella and those Lucifer fans who were initially overjoyed to see someone truly understand and embrace Ella’s strange-but-lovable nature.
We sat down with Garcia to chat about her history with the character, the upsetting events of season 5, and what’s next for Ella Lopez….
Den of Geek: Can you take me through your original audition process for Lucifer?
Aimee Garcia: When I read the script for a Latina scientist, because you don’t see a lot of Latinas in STEM, that’s the first thing that got me really excited about it, and her sense of humor and dorkiness. I got to the audition, and I went for it! I did dance moves and unapologetically put my arms up in the air and I thought, “you know what, I’m just going to go for it! I just want to know I left it all on the table, and then it’s out of my control.’”
After that, I got a call from Joe [Henderson] and Ildy [Modrovich], our showrunners, that I was going to come onboard season two. And now here we are!
Ella’s been through some ups and downs on the show, but season five really puts her through the wringer. They kind of took you back to the Dexter era, but much worse!
I think what the writers do so well on the show is they throw curve balls, not only to the viewers, but to us as actors. [Ella] is the goofball, the lighthearted dork cracking jokes, always talking, hugging everyone, invading their space and just being such a little sunshine nugget.
She never has a love interest. She’s super independent. She’s the smartest person in the room. She’s a woman in STEM. So, for someone like that to have a crisis of self and wonder if she is a good person or if she picks the right people or if she’ll ever find love …it’s so heartbreaking. In this season, we see the lightest, brightest, most positive and optimistic character in the darkest, most vulnerable, most uncomfortable situation.
In season five, Ella decides to finally put the bad boys aside and start a relationship with Pete. When she discovers his horrifying secret, she doesn’t totally panic. She steels herself, she makes a plan to subdue him, and she follows through, but Pete doesn’t make it easy for her – he really tries to take her down! Was that a difficult scene to film?
What’s funny about that particular scene is that we shot it three weeks before it was planned. Something had come up, and they were going to shut down production for a couple of days, and I said, “Do we have to? Is it possible if we could see if Alex is down to do the scene three weeks before it was planned? I’m down.”
The type A in me wants to have the most time to prep, but then the impulsive, instinctive, actor/artist in me is thinking: “this doesn’t give you time to think, this doesn’t give you time to plan anything, and this doesn’t give you any time to get in your own way.” You just have to go raw and instinctual. It was probably one of the most challenging scenes [I’ve done], because I’m not used to doing that, especially with light-hearted Ella.
She’s such a cinnamon roll, I was heartbroken. Ella doesn’t hesitate to storm into his interrogation afterwards, though. Will she have to deal with a lot of trauma on screen later?
I think as people we know and learn what we’re made of in the darkest of times. It’s easy to be the best version of yourself when the chips are up, but who are you when the chips are down – when your friend is sick; when you’re being threatened with your life; when you have no answers; when you’re lost? [Ella] doesn’t feel sorry for herself. She doesn’t play the victim. Helping someone she loves is more important than her getting the rug pulled from under her.
She finds her inner strength, and does this out of love for her friend who has become her sister this season. That being said, it’s a very traumatic thing that happened to her. We all know people that are so guarded, they don’t let people in that often. So, when she finally lets someone in and then there’s this betrayal, it’s just heartbreaking. I think the writers are so good that they don’t leave any emotional stone unturned. In the second half of the season, we will see Ella wondering what it says about her that she picked this person to be her friend – and an intimate friend. We’re going to see her reel from that, and the emotional aftermath of it will come into light in the second half of season five.
Can you tell me more about the musical episode coming up later in season five?
The musical episode was really fun. It was really epic and required a lot of teamwork, because there were so many dancers, and drone cameras. It was like doing a live Broadway show!. Each song is very different. We have lyrical songs and more modern songs and you’re going to hear a lot of different ranges and styles. Kevin Alejandro is fantastic! He’s a great dancer.
The way it was written by Ildy was …we’re not just all of a sudden singing! It’s not like that. There’s a reason why everyone starts singing. I have a really fun dance number with the most unlikely character. I felt it was the closest I will ever come to feeling like Beyonceé, having backup dancers. Very good looking back up dancers, I might add.
Ella is the only one of the main crew who doesn’t know that Lucifer is the devil at this point, and it often seems like she’s more prepared than any of them to understand, because she already has so much religious faith. Would confirmation of the existence of God and Heaven and Hell reaffirm Ella’s faith? Or would she spiral the way some of the others have?
Ella is the dumbest smartest character on the show. She can tell you how someone died just based on like a piece of hair left at the crime scene, but she thinks that the Devil is just an actor who can’t book a gig and needs a hug. She would probably ask Lucifer a bunch of questions if she ever found out.
I’m torn, because I love that she doesn’t know. I don’t want to take away that fun, clueless banter [between Ella and Lucifer], because no one else has it. Every other character knows that there’s angels and demons and devils, so it keeps [Ella] relatable, but I hope by the end of the series Ella gets the celestial memo.
Do you know when you’ll be able to complete filming on the second half of season five?
We’re like everyone else, just in a holding pattern. Hopefully, we start production in the fall and I know it’s going to be very buttoned up and very safe. I think we’ll see how this whole pandemic changes the storytelling, but we’re scheduled to go into production quite soon.
The sixth [and final] season really is a love letter to the fans. We’re here because of you, in full honesty. It’s our little thank you for coming on this journey with us.”
This interview has been edited for pace and clarity.