16 "Lucifer" Behind-The-Scenes Stories Straight From Kevin Alejandro, AKA Dan Espinoza
"I would go over to Tom and Lauren's trailers in between setups. The three of us, just talking, but Tom was always playing the guitar."
For six seasons, Lucifer became the show that wouldn't stop. After being canceled by Fox, the show gained new life on Netflix, and we finally got the proper ending the show deserved when the final season started streaming.
To celebrate the final season of Lucifer, Kevin Alejandro, aka Dan Espinoza, sat down with me to chat about everything — like his favorite Dan scenes from all six seasons, his memories from filming the series finale, a perfect behind-the-scenes memory with Tom Ellis and Lauren German, and much more. Here's everything we chatted about:
Warning: There are massive spoilers ahead for Lucifer Season 6!
Things you loved about playing Dan Espinoza on Lucifer?
1. First, I loved how flawed Dan was. He was a very morally gray character in the beginning, and he was constantly trying to prove he was a good man by the end.
2. How Dan always tried to come from a place of love and being super genuine.
3. I loved the idea that he and Chloe were an example of what it could be like to co-parent and still raise a beautiful human being.
4. I loved his friendship with Lucifer because I became such good friends with Tom [Ellis]. As soon as Tom called me "Detective Douche" in the first table read, I knew it was going to stick.
5. And finally, I loved how quirky and funny he got to be. In a world that's so bizarre, he was so straight-laced, and then we were able to see his sense of humor eventually. His walls were slowly broken down, which I think happens to everyone.
BuzzFeed: Dan has one of the biggest character arcs on the show. How was it watching him evolve over six seasons?
I think it happened because I am a very funny goofball in real life. Also, I think the real relationships outside of the characters started to shine through. Outside of Dan and Lucifer, you started to see Tom and myself's relationship peek through. Also, my friendship with Lauren [German]. I think our own personalities helped the writers add in these great little moments. Once you show the writers what you can do, like dancing, singing, and physical comedy, it allows them to add bits of yourself into the character you play.
BuzzFeed: Do you remember what your audition for Dan was like?
I didn't audition. I was actually a recast after they shot the pilot. Someone else was playing Dan Espinoza. I was tied to another show called The Returned and I was waiting to see if that show got picked up. Eventually, that show didn't, but it was within a matter of hours that I got Lucifer. I knew they were interested in meeting me, they sent me the Lucifer pilot, and I had heard of Tom Ellis. So, I watched the pilot and I just really wanted to work with Tom because I think he's great. That's how me being cast went down.
Joe [Henderson] and Ildy [Modrovich] interviewed me to see if I'd be a good fit with the people they had already put together. I think they set a really good tone with the type of people they put together on the cast. It all stemmed from a place of kindness and excitement. I remember showing up to my meeting in a full suit, like I was ready to have a professional conversation. Then, I left, closed the door, and heard Ildy tell Joe, "He's kind of serious, but somehow it works." So, Dan started pretty serious, but I was able to bleed in some quirkiness as the seasons went on.
BuzzFeed: Did you meet the rest of the cast the first day you showed up to set?
Yeah! It was a weird thing because when I showed up to set, they were already shooting Episode 2. I was doing reshoots. I was reshooting the scenes the other actor was in, so the first time you actually meet Dan, I'm not actually acting with Tom. I'm acting with Tom's stand-in because the shot was over Lucifer's shoulder. So, it wasn't until the next table read that I really got to meet everyone fully.
Favorite guest stars from Lucifer?
1. Obviously, Tricia Helfer started off as a guest star but became so important to the show. She fit in perfectly. I had no idea Dan and Charlotte were going to have a romance, so her showing up became even cooler for me. I got so lucky.
BuzzFeed: How was it building Dan and Charlotte's relationship alongside Tricia and filming their ending?
It was honestly one of my favorite things to be a part of. I loved their relationship and seeing it grow. Tricia was a terrific partner too.
2. Kevin Rankin. He was our first ultimate bad guy. I love that dude. He raised the bar. Like, if you were in a scene with him, you had to step up. He was fantastic and has a great sense of humor. He's from Texas and I'm a Texas boy, so we had a lot in common. It worked out great.
3. Dennis Haysbert, obviously, because he was God. He was the perfect addition to this crazy chemistry that we all put together. He just became this voice on set.
BuzzFeed: How was it directing Dennis during Season 5 as well?
It was great. At first, I think I was in my head a little bit because, like, why would I give him notes? Dennis is so great, but also he was playing God! Like, that was huge. He was so great to direct. He listens and reacts perfectly. That's what you do as an actor. If I had anything to say, he would listen and then would beautifully incorporate it into the next take. It was perfect and so cool. Dennis is already a big dude, right? He's got a big presence and that recognizable voice. He doesn't have to do anything except really enter a room. But with him, this energy follows. You sort of succumb to his energy and follow it. That presence played out so nicely. I was intimidated a little bit, but it worked for the characters too.
4. Colman Domingo. He is fantastic and he's a genius actor. He's always so different in everything he's in, but amazing in every single thing. He just made a lasting impression. When he was on set, we found out we were in the same fraternity. Not only is he a great actor, but just a genuine human being. He was great. Colman was also in just one episode. Like, that was a legit standout guest star.
BONUS: Okay, I'm going to cheat...because I also loved Tom Welling, Graham McTavish, and Inbar Lavi. Tom was a great fit for the show and he did great bringing that character to life. Meanwhile, Graham was just Graham. He was perfect for the role of Father Kinley. Then, of course, Inbar just left a great impression on the entire show and, like Tricia, she became so important for other characters. Inbar and Lesley [Ann Brandt] were amazing to watch.
Favorite Dan moments from Lucifer?
1. "Because it was labeled!" When Tom, aka Lucifer, stole Dan's pudding. It just became the perfect running joke on the show and I always laugh at that moment.
2. Every single moment in "Daniel Espinoza: Naked and Afraid." Like, you watched Dan shoveling deeper and deeper and deeper into hole after hole, and just getting knocked out, waking back up, and getting knocked out again. That has to be one of my favorite Dan moments and episodes. It was so much fun to film.
3. And on a serious note, I think my favorite is Dan's final moment with Trixie. Rob Benedict starts the scene in a beautiful way, and as we move around him, it slowly becomes me. I just thought the whole way they wrote the scene and how we filmed it was so poetic. Scarlett [Estevez] was so great in it too and it's the perfect end to Dan's time on Earth.
BuzzFeed: One of the most emotional moments of the show was Dan dying and seeing Trixie's reaction. How was it filming those moments in Season 5?
As you know, our closeness offscreen became super tight, which I think transcended onto the screen. I think it made all of the character relationships seem very authentic because a lot of our real emotions come across on screen. So, yeah, the day we filmed Dan's death, it was tough because we knew it was inevitable. We knew it was the end and we knew what the circumstances were. The feeling was heavy on set. There were a lot of tears and hugs. The moment you see Scarlett's reaction as Trixie in the hospital — and Lauren is just weeping behind her — was so heartbreaking. I think that's when every fan started crying. "I want my daddy," I mean it was crushing, and Scarlett handled it beautifully.
BuzzFeed: Season 5 was originally going to be the last season, so Dan's death really would've been the end. How was it figuring out what to do with Dan during this bonus final season?
So, Joe, Ildy, and the writers get together before we even start our seasons, and they give us ideas of where they want to take the story. Then, if we have any ideas, we can tell them too. So, I remember having my meeting with them, and what I thought could be interesting would be that now that the audience loves, accepts, and understands Dan, it would make an impact if we suddenly took him away. Right when the love is starting to happen, we take him away. I thought it would be a powerful ending for the character. I think Joe and Ildy were already headed in that direction with Dan, but I had the same thoughts.
Dan's death had been set in stone, then suddenly we got a phone call saying we're coming back for Season 6. I was like, "But wait, you killed me! What are we gonna do?" Joe and Ildy knew how to keep Dan in for the final season, and they asked if I wanted to come back for the season, and of course I did! I wanted to be there until the very end. Other than the experience they all had together during the pilot, I've been there since basically day one. I felt like I needed, for my soul, to be part of it until the very end.
Behind-the-scenes memories from Lucifer — one from filming Season 1 and one from the series finale.
1. I think one of my favorite memories that continued throughout the show, but really started early on, was when I would go over to Tom and Lauren's trailers in between setups. The three of us, just sitting there and talking, but Tom was always playing the guitar. This happened, like, all the time. It'll always be a solid memory for me. The three of us, doing what we do, and Tom playing the guitar. Eventually, it turned from just Tom and the guitar to him having a monitor to speakers to a band setup.
2. And my memory from the series finale is, honestly, how much we cried and the realization that, that was it. We didn't want to let each other go. There were a lot of tears on the last day, and I'll just always remember this family we created.
BuzzFeed: Lucifer was canceled and then got this new life at Netflix. How was it saying goodbye to the show before and then finally saying goodbye during the final season?
You go through all of these ranges of emotions and feelings about it, but when I step back and I think about it, I think it was such a perfect roller coaster for this show. From this show that started with just a title and moms saying, "Do not let this show air," just because of the title and it being a show about the devil. That marked the beginning of the many walls that we had to climb over. Then, getting canceled off the network and #SaveLucifer. Then, coming back on Netflix, getting canceled after Season 5, but just kidding, we're back for Season 6. It was just a beautiful, romantic story of Lucifer. I think it fits into the actual stories from the show as well. Nothing was easy. Everything was a journey to understand who these characters were and what they wanted out of life. It was the ultimate journey of growth, and our fight off screen exemplified that too.
BuzzFeed: How was it watching the fanbase grow so much once the show made the jump to Netflix?
It was amazing. We have the best fans. I just did a convention in Florida and what's beautiful is the fans have a voice, and when they speak, we remember them. We like to say there were six series regulars when the show started, but the seventh was the fans. We hear their voices and they are part of the show. They're the reason we exist.
BuzzFeed: Did you get to keep anything from set after you wrapped?
Yes! I got to keep this little bobblehead that was on Dan's desk that was made. The audience never really got to see it too. It was made for an episode in Season 2, where Trixie was going to give me a birthday gift or something. It was going to be this little bobblehead, and it says "Dan" and he's holding a gun and is a little cop. It wasn't made on time, so we ended up using something else in the episode, but it sat on my desk for season after season. It's on my personal desk now too.
Important thing you learned while starring on Lucifer?
1. One important thing while playing Dan is that we're all flawed, but if you come from a place of kindness and love, inevitably the right thing will happen for you. And the one thing I learned about myself as a director while working on this show was that in the television world, if you trust the team that surrounds you to do what they do best, there's no possibility of failure. It's a true collaboration.
BuzzFeed: Was directing Lucifer your first time directing?
It was my first time directing at that level. I had directed several short films that I had either written, cowritten, or one of my friends had written. I love being a filmmaker. I don't consider myself just an actor because I'm obsessed with it all. But, yes, Lucifer was the first big thing I directed and it was my introduction into seeing how all of these big departments worked and trusting them. I loved the collaboration on this show, both behind the scenes and in front of the camera.