INTERVIEW: Aimee Garcia Talks Lucifer, Ella Lopez, and the Legacy of the Show
Ella Lopez is one of those characters who you root for on Lucifer because of her willingness to be there for those she cares about and what she has overcome in her life. Every time we think we know how Ella will react to something, she throws us a curveball, and it’s beautiful to see a character so strong in who she is while also being incredible at her job. Ella Lopez is one of the best forensic scientists on television, and the show never questions that skill.
In gearing up for season 5B of Lucifer and preparing for the end to the wonderfully hellish show (there’s one more season after this), I spoke with Aimee Garcia about playing Ella and how the show itself has been such an underdog story that was, for the most part, resurrected by fans after it was canceled at Fox, prior to finding a home on Netflix.
THE MARY SUE: So I will admit, I started Lucifer during quarantine and watched the entire series in like two weeks. And so it’s very fun to watch Ella’s journey throughout the whole show, especially cause she comes in and they kind of … Everyone views her as this younger anxious kind of addition to their team. And then as we see, as she gets into the last season, she has become someone that they all implicitly trust. And so I wanted to know what has been your favorite part of taking that journey with Ella?
AIMEE GARCIA: Oh my gosh. I mean, she’s just like you said. I feel like she comes in and she’s in her lane and she’s a forensic scientist and she helps detect who did the murder and she somehow is such a Pollyanna and the midst of crime scene death. And you can’t really kind of figure her out, but she’s just this love bug who just wants to hug everyone. And I think what’s been so great is unpeeling her layers, right? Like even like pick a lane, say language. You think, ‘Oh, she speaks English,’ and then they’re like, ‘Oh, she speaks Spanish and French. Oh she speaks Klingon.’ And then you’re like, ‘Oh, she’s always in a great mood.’ And then you’re like, ‘No, she has dark spots. Okay.’ And you’re like, ‘Oh wow. So she’s so optimistic.’ And then like, ‘Oh my God, she grew up in poverty.’
I think Lucifer says it best. He calls her like an enigma underneath a jaunty ponytail, and when they called her Rain Man in that Vegas episode. So I think it’s so funny to just to see Ella like count cards and then be kicked out of a casino. Like you just, you do not see it coming. And her interests are like the sayings on shirts, but then she also knows how to steal cars. So I just love that, for me, the best part has just been, as an actor, reading these things that Ella does and just getting so excited and surprised and so I’m like, ‘Gosh, if I’m surprised, I hope that the audience is surprised.’
And my favorite part really is just cracking people up. Like when I make Lauren German laugh during the scene, because I did something funny, I get so excited. It’s like, because I think she’s the funniest person on our cast and when I can crack her up, it’s great. And I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m on the right track.’ So that, you know, that’s been so fun to be on this Ella journey with this group.
TMS: What’s really exciting about Ella as a character is like you said: She is a nerd, she has all these different layers, but then … like the one thing I really loved is that her status as a forensic scientist is never questioned. Everyone is just like, ‘That is what Ella is good at. She’s a very good forensic scientist.’ And it’s really nice to see in television, just someone who is very good at their job and not questioned. And so when you’re coming into a character like that, is that important to both have onscreen and understand the importance of a role like that in television?
GARCIA: Oh, definitely. I mean, I have girls come up during Comic-Cons and dress and cosplays as Ella Lopez. And again, Ella is not like a cool demon. She’s not, you know, she’s not an angel that can stop time. She doesn’t have Lucifer’s mojo. She’s not a celestial. She’s not a goddess. She’s not a God, she has no super power. So what I love is that I would go to Comic-Cons all over the world and people would have forensic jackets and gloves and a camera and a top knot. And they’d say, ‘Hey, I majored in biology now because of Ella.’ And then teachers would say, ‘Hey, I showed clips with Ella in the lab to my science class because she makes science cool.’
I just, I think it’s really cool that Ella is actually in a profession that people can do in real life, because none of us are gonna, I mean, maybe in the close future where we become bionic or something, but I don’t see us being able to stop time anytime soon, but we can definitely learn about forensic science and give some sort of, you know, justice to the dead.
And, to me, science really is magic. So for me, I just love that you’re right. She is their north star in a lot of ways. She is their rock. She is very consistent. And, conversely, what I think is so beautiful about her when she starts questioning her own, you know, just her own judgment. I mean, she dated a serial killer. She literally let in a guy who ended up being a serial killer. And so I think there’s something so sweet about Ella, who in a way is like a real life angel and that she’s not judgemental and she’s a woman of faith. And she gives her deadbeat brothers like, you know, tons of chances. And even though she came from poverty, she’s self-made, she’s smart. And she doesn’t apologize for being smart, which I love. I mean, she doesn’t dim her lights.
She doesn’t try to be cool. She does like the Hammer dance in front of a dead body. She speaks Klingon, she cosplays. She’s just unapologetically herself, which that’s what I love about her. And I think that that’s when fans come up to me and they say, that’s what they love about her. She’s just an unapologetic dork. But then when Ella starts questioning herself, it’s heartbreaking. When she starts thinking, well, if I picked a serial killer to date, what does that say about me? And so it just breaks your heart because here’s little Ella trying to figure it out. And obviously she had a crisis of faith, in the previous season and now she’s having a crisis of self and this season she’s thrown herself into work. Like she doesn’t know how to take time off.
She just figuring it out. So I think what’s so lovely about this character is that she’s so relatable. She’s the avatar of the fan. She’s just a human and just being human is tough. So it’ll be fun to see Ella spin a little bit and have to pick up the pieces from her relationship with Pete and also be lost. And also ironically, as a woman of faith, talk to God. And not know she’s talking to God, like how fun is that? That you have little Ella hugging Lucifer’s dad who she thinks is, you know, like a sweet, sweet man. Doesn’t even ask questions. She just gives him a hug. She’s like, ‘oh my God, you’re so cool.’ You know, I think it’s so fun, but she is just, I call her the smartest most clueless person and character on the show.
TMS: I love Ella, she is one of the best characters on the show and it is very sad getting to say goodbye to all of these characters. So I wanted to know is what are you going to miss the most about exploring Ella and the series as a whole?
GARCIA: Oh, well, Ella is just such a great character. I would come home from work so happy, she really reminds you to have faith and hope. And I think, you know, when the world was upside down last year, it was really nice to have a character that is just unwavering in her belief in humanity and constantly sees the good in people. And it’s just so joyful and her energy is contagious. So I’m just gonna miss it. It’s my favorite character I’ve ever played. I mean, she’s such a love bug and she’s just this little bean who is like a real life angel and is just trying to make the best decisions she can. I just love her faith in people and I think as a whole, you know, I’m going to miss going to work with people I love.
It was such a gift to be on a show that people watched and be part of a story that people cared about and be a character that people saw themselves in. It was kind of that lightning in a bottle cast where, I mean, who else could you picture in this role besides Tom? And the chemistry between Tom and Lauren is like, I’m on set with them and I’m like, ‘oh my gosh.’ It’s so lovely. You know? And Kevin is ridiculously talented, Kevin and DB directing us. So going on the other side of the camera and Ildy being so inspiring. I mean, here’s a woman, who’s our boss. She’s been there from the beginning and she has the courage to do something she’s never done before and direct.
And so to me, that is really a testament to someone who, even if they’re nervous and scared, they still do it, which to me is courage. So to have a boss like that, and Joe, to have a boss who when you say, ‘Hey, I really think Ella would speak Spanish here’. Say ‘Okay. Yeah, no problem.’ Or ‘Hey, can I actually speak French? Is that cool?’ ‘Yeah, no problem.’ Like, to just be open to just, I don’t, I don’t know. I mean, I can come up with these ideas or try to represent, you know, my community in the best, most authentic light, but it’s up to Netflix and Warner Brothers and Bruckheimer, like it’s the whole team of people, you know, so I think it was just one of those serendipitous kinds of shows. I’m really gonna miss just the people more than anything.
And hopefully we’ll still have our fans, even after the show airs and they see it a million times because this really is their show. We would not exist without them. They literally resurrected us from death. I call them our little angels constantly. So I am seeing, like I said, people I’m fond of, dancing with them in between takes and making Lauren laugh and you know, hugging Rachel and trying to make DB laugh and smile, because I always tell him when he does, it lights up the world. I’m like, you gotta smile and laugh more often, DB, because it is just so special. So it’s just wonderful. And obviously our crew. So when you’re lucky enough to work with people for five years, for them six, I guess. And it’s really bittersweet because I guess all good things must come to an end and we’re grateful that Netflix gave us a home, but, you know, I’m really proud that we’re getting to end the show as a love note to the fans. And that is exactly what this season is. I personally think it’s one of our strongest seasons, if not our strongest. And I really think that this season is a love letter to the fan 1000%. And what a great way, you know, end a story that started as an underdog.
Lucifer is back with more episodes Friday, May 28th.
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