D.B. Woodside on the Musical Episode and Season 6

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In the second half of Season 5 of the Netflix series Lucifer, God (Dennis Haysbert) himself has come to Earth, forcing Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis), his twin brother Michael (also Ellis) and Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside) to deal with what that means and sort out their daddy issues. As secrets are revealed, sacrifices are made, and Lucifer and Michael end up on a collision course that will force everyone to choose a side.

During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, Woodside talked about why he was nervous about the musical episode, preparing for his duet with Rachael Harris, improvising on the performance of “U Can’t Touch This” in the finale, Amenadiel’s identity crisis, what he loves about working with Haysbert, which Season 6 storyline he was hesitant about, and the experience of getting to direct an episode in the show’s final season.

Collider: I’m always very curious to see how a show that is not a musical pulls off a musical episode, and you guys did a great job.

D.B. WOODSIDE: Oh, thank you. I don’t remember what, but there was something that we did that gave Ildy [Modrovich] the idea of doing it. She’s been talking about doing a musical episode for quite some time, and she just went to town and had so much fun with it. Of course, that meant that we all had so much fun with it.

How did you feel about the fact that it was actually going to happen? Were you totally on board? Did you need some convincing?

WOODSIDE: There were quite a few of us that were excited, but scared. I, for one, was someone who was a little bit nervous. I’m not a belty kind of guy. I’m a musician, but the singing aspect is not what I do. But I trusted Ildy and the episode was fantastic. We had these amazing music supervisors help us along and we had an amazing choreographer. It really, really, really was a blast.

I love the duet that you got to do with Rachael Harris? How was it to do “Just the Two of Us”? Was it always that song? How long did you have to prepare that song?

WOODSIDE: We had quite some time because they had to get all of the music, so they went ahead and got all of the approvals first. I can’t remember what we did first, but I think we went into the studio. Each of us had to go to the studio and record our tracks. And then, after the tracks were recorded and locked, we had to learn choreography for the musical numbers. And then, we got a chance to perform them and shoot them. I was really excited because I love working with Rachael. It just turned out that the day that we had to shoot our musical number, it was at a small park in Burbank. It was a beautiful morning. It was just a little bit chilly enough to get you in the mood to dance and know that you weren’t gonna overheat. We had so much fun.

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Image via Netflix

I also loved that you got to do “U Can’t Touch This” and the whole MC Hammer dance and I feel like we needed more of that performance. Was that fun to do? How much time did you practice that dance?

WOODSIDE: Actually, a lot of that was improvised. We knew we were gonna do that song, but Tom [Ellis], Lauren [German] and I, on the day, just started coming up with different ways to move. To do that song so blank-faced and so serious, that was a tough day. That was a really tough day. I’m surprised that they found a take that we made it through without laughing. I grew up with that. I remember being a kid and watching MC Hammer and all of that craziness. I loved it.

Your character is having a little bit of an identity crisis going on, as he’s dealing with having found out that his son isn’t going to be an angel and is instead mortal. How is that for him to reconcile, when he’s someone who clearly believes that angels are superior?

WOODSIDE: Amenadiel is having a rough time of it. As much as he has grown and embraced humanity, there’s always that side of him that believes that celestials are better than humans. And so, now to have to accept the fact that his own son may be human, it’s tough for him. I think it’s also tough for him because he now knows that his son can get sick, grow old, and die. He has the same fears now that every parent has. For Amenadiel, just like with most parents, we never can really conceive of our child going before us. It’s against the natural order. When it happens, it’s the most devastating thing that a parent or human can go through. Amenadiel is feeling that. He’s embodying that. The idea that he’s gonna be this celestial that continues to live and he’s gonna have to watch his own child get sick, grow old, and die, is as terrifying for him as it is for any parent.

RELATED: Lucifer Showrunners on Casting Dennis Haysbert, the Musical Episode, That Big Death, and Why Season 6 Will Be 10 Episodes

As much as I love and think about Morgan Freeman, when I think about a cinematic representation of God, I think my love for Dennis Haysbert as God has now surpassed that completely. What do you most enjoy about what he has brought to that role and to the show? Do you have favorite memories of working with Dennis Haysbert in these episodes?

WOODSIDE: Oh, my God, yes. First of all, I love Dennis, ever since him and I did 24 together. I’ve been pushing for Dennis to be God since Season 1. I really wanted him to be God, if we were ever gonna see God. So, to finally have him show up on the show was unbelievable. And Dennis is just amazing in this role. The thing that surprised me most was that, as long as I’ve known Dennis and as much as him and I have worked together, I knew Dennis had a good sense of humor, but I had no idea how funny he could be. That’s what’s gonna surprise people the most. Dennis is known as this serious, grounded, intense actor with a lot of gravitas, and here he is on Lucifer, just letting loose and having a great time. That’s not to say he doesn’t have serious scenes too because he does, but he’s just so hilarious.

My favorite moment with him is in the first episode, where God and Amenadiel are washing dishes after that disastrous dinner. They have a conversation about Charlie, and that was my favorite moment with Dennis. There’s one more, and I can’t remember which episode it’s in and I don’t wanna blow what happens, but it’s towards the end of Season 5B, where God shows up in the bar and has a conversation with Lucifer and Amenadiel. That’s another one of my favorite moments. He just came to have fun, and that affected all of us. It was great to be in those scenes with him and to see him let loose like that. The words I seem to keep coming back to are fun and amazing. That’s what it was.

The end of the season is quite epic and it’s going to leave fans very anxious for Season 6 and to see what happens next. What would you say to tease fans of the show to hold them over until then?

WOODSIDE: I’ve already maybe talked a little bit too much about this, but there’s a moment that happens, at the end of Season 5B, that is devastating. That, in and of itself, will be enough to bring people back to Season 6 because they’re gonna want to see how we resolve that. And Season 6 delivers. It’s definitely gonna be a great way for us to say goodbye to the fans.

You’ve talked about Amenadiel joining the police department in Season 6 and about how there’s no way to approach something like that these days without also addressing what that means in today’s world. What were those conversations like and what was it like to get to have a hand in shaping something like that on this show?

WOODSIDE: I won’t lie, when this idea was first tossed to me, I was not happy about it. It’s not like I’m thrilled to talk about it, but I’m someone that has suffered at the hands of the police numerous times, so many times that I seriously have lost count, since I was seven years old. That was not something that I was excited about. But then, when I heard what they wanted to do with it, I was all for it. And then, there was the fact that it was being written by Ildy, who I have great respect for, and it was being directed by Claudia [Yarmy], who is one of my favorite directors that I’ve ever worked with, in 20 years. Claudia is sensitive, she’s intuitive, she gets me and I get her, and we understand each other down to the molecular level. When you’re tackling subjects like that with people, as an actor, a lot of it has to be trust, and I trust them. I trust Ildy and I trust Claudia. So, it was tough, but it also needed to be done.

I have cops in my family, so I know how hard the job is. I think the majority of police are good, hardworking people. The problem is that you have bad cops that exist in a bad system and you have good cops that exist in a bad system. The problem is the bad cops and the problem is the system. I’ve never understood why we don’t have longer training to be a cop, like they do in other countries. I actually think that so much of the problems that we see could be weeded out that way. If you knew that to become a cop, you had to go through four to six years of training before you even got a chance to put on the badge, imagine how many people would just throw their hands up and go, “Well, I’m not gonna do that. That’s just way too long.” Well, hey, then we don’t want you to be a cop. There you go.

It works with doctors.

WOODSIDE: Absolutely, it works with doctors. For all the talking that we’ve been doing the last few years, going back and forth, that’s the one that I, personally, would like to see. How about we just make the training a hell of a lot longer, before you even get to carry a gun. I guarantee you that you would see a lot of those people that we see on the news every fucking day, doing something horrible, not be able to pass the training to become cops. I’m glad that we tackled it. I think it’s gonna surprise a lot of people. I got a chance to act with Merrin [Dungey], who is absolutely brilliant and I think our chemistry is off the charts. I can’t wait for people to see it. I can’t wait to act with Merrin again, somewhere in the future. She’s a riot. I just adore her and loved being her partner.

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Image via Netflix

You got to direct an episode in Season 6 (Episode 608, “Save the Devil, Save the World”). How long had you been thinking about the possibility of doing that and how long had you been waiting for this show to give you a chance at that?

WOODSIDE: I’ve wanted to direct for years now. It’s no secret. I’ve been trying to do this on this show, since the beginning of the show. It was a little bit of a uphill battle. People like (executive producer) KristieAnne Reed, over at Bruckheimer, and Nathan Hope, who was our producing director in the first season, really assisted. Joan Cunningham, our line producer, was absolutely heavenly and helped me at every single stage. Matt Pexa, our first A.D., was my partner in crime. I never could have done it without him. I had these amazing people my corner. That’s the only way that you can be successful because it’s not something you do on your own. It’s just not. You need an amazing team. All of these people that I’ve mentioned made sure that I was not gonna fail, made sure that I was allowed to be creative in that mix, and made sure that I was able to really pursue my vision. It’s because of those people that I was really able to have success. I’m known as an actor for the last 20 years, and whenever you try to do something different in this business, it makes people a little bit nervous because you are a known entity. And so, to step into something unknown and to step into a position that they’re not used to you doing, makes people nervous.

If there’s anything that I’ve learned about money people, it’s that they like things to be predictable. That makes them sleep better at night. But very quickly, as we were shooting, people started to relax. They could see that I knew what I was doing. I’m an overachiever, which means I tend to do too much homework, but I’d rather come into that position, especially my first time, over-prepared than under-prepared. That way, if you’re over-prepared, whatever happens, and whatever goes wrong, you have a plan B, a plan C, a plan D, and a plan E. I was definitely that guy who had a lot of those plans. I’m excited for everyone to see it. I’m excited to continue directing, in my future. I would feel awful, if I didn’t really mention those four people that I told you about, that were so important and so integral. I just love them and will love them forever, for how much they had my back.

What was the most fulfilling aspect of directing a cast of and what are the challenges that come with that?

WOODSIDE: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this, but you’re talking about individuals where, what I love about Lucifer is that every single actor could be the lead of their own show. They really were blessed to get all of these actors together in this cast. Every cast member could be the lead of their own show, and I wish that for all of them. Now with that is gonna come egos. That’s normal. But as a director, you’ve gotta get all of these egos on the same page. A lot of times, it can feel like herding cats. That’s challenging, but it’s not challenging in a bad way. It’s just challenging. If you’re able to get all of these amazing people on the same page and show them what your vision is, and all of you are focused the same direction, which is my job as director, then we can accomplish anything. Probably bigger than that was the fact that we were shooting with so many COVID restrictions, which meant that we had far less time than we normally have. That also meant that things were different on set.

It was really difficult to communicate back and forth sometimes. It was really challenging, but the actors supported me and I supported them. I had all of them in my episode. It rarely happens that you have an entire cast. I think it would not have been successful, had I started out or been on another show. I think the fact that I’ve been in the trenches with these people for six seasons, and we were Vancouver together before coming to Los Angeles, and then being canceled and fighting to get picked up, when you go through battles like that with a crew of people, it just bonds you forever. We have this connection and because of that, there’s nothing that we can’t accomplish as a team. Everybody loves everybody, and everybody is willing to be there for each other. They were willing to be there for me and willing to work with me, so that this could be successful. That’s just special to me. That’s something that will always be special to me.

You mentioned the COVID protocols. How hard was it to wrap the show during a pandemic when all you probably wanted to do was laugh and cry and hug each other? Can you even celebrate ending the show when you’re ending it during a pandemic?

WOODSIDE: No. There was no way, and that’s what made the ending of our show epically sad. We all knew we were gonna be sad, obviously, because something was coming to an end that we all loved so much. But the way it ended, with it taken out of our hands, there was something about that, that was just depressing. We’ve all talked about finally having a wrap party, probably in a few months, sometime next year. I think that’s gonna be really good. That’s gonna give us all the closure that we need. Right now, we feel a little bit lost. It feels like it’s over, but it doesn’t really feel like it’s over. It was just a weird way for it to end because we didn’t really get a chance to all get together, as a cast and crew. It was weird, and I didn’t like it at all. That’s my truth.

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Image via Netflix

At the same time, you’ve been in this business long enough to know and have experienced not getting some jobs you want, and having other things not work out or get canceled. What’s it like to be a part of a show that gets canceled, gets un-canceled, and then you get a surprise season that you weren’t expecting to get it?

WOODSIDE: It was magic. I’ve been really blessed in my career. I’ve gotten to work on some of the best shows out there, over the past 20 years. That’s been amazing, but I think what a lot of people don’t realize is that all of those great shows I’ve been a part of, I was added at the end. I came in when that cast had already jelled. Every single cast that I joined was fantastic, of course, but there is something special about starting a show with a group of people, from the beginning. I didn’t have that with 24. I didn’t have that with Buffy. I didn’t have that with Parenthood. But I had it with Lucifer. To be there from the auditioning process to the first table to the first day of filming to us all moving to Vancouver. We all went through this together.

There’s just something more special about being a part of something from the ground up. I remember Tom and I working the first day, and we were both single guys back then, talking about what it was like raising daughters as terrified dads that were afraid we were gonna fuck up. I remember Rachael talking about having children, and now she has two beautiful boys. I don’t remember a Lesley-Ann [Brandt] talking about children, and now she has a beautiful son. I remember all of the talking and planning and dreaming, and that’s been incredible. I remember Kevin [Alejandro]’s son being so young, and now he’s taller than Kevin, such a good-looking dude, and just a wonderful human being. When you’re lucky enough to start from the beginning with people that you really respect and like, you also have these privileged windows into their personal lives. You see how they’ve grown, how they’ve changed, how they’ve deepened, and how they’ve grown wiser. I feel like everyone has grown wiser, and I’m excited to see what they all do next.

By the way, that extends to the crew. Our crew in Vancouver is a crew that I’ve never forgotten. It’s because of them that we were able to move back to Los Angeles. They gave us this amazing first two seasons of the show. Our crew in Los Angeles is amazing. I feel like our production team doesn’t get enough credit. And the staff of writers that have been led by Ildy and Joe [Henderson], from the beginning. We were lucky enough to have a lot of the same writers stay with us for six seasons, and that’s been phenomenal. Even some of the writers that have left, came back at times just to say hi. I think that’s special.

Lucifer Season 5B is available to stream on Netflix.

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Christina Radish
(4841 Articles Published)

Christina Radish is a Senior Reporter at Collider. Having worked at Collider for over a decade (since 2009), her primary focus is on film and television interviews with talent both in front of and behind the camera. She is a theme park fanatic, which has lead to covering various land and ride openings, and a huge music fan, for which she judges life by the time before Pearl Jam and the time after. She is also a member of the Critics Choice Association and the Television Critics Association.

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