Tricia Helfer Plays Another in a Line of Strong Women in ‘Lucifer’

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    Tricia Helfer in an episode of the Fox series, "Lucifer." (Fox) Fox

Tribune News Service
Published: 2/4/2018 10:00:17 PM
Modified: 2/4/2018 10:00:18 PM

Los Angeles — Tricia Helfer is attracted to a specific type of acting role: strong characters. A glimpse of the Canadian’s ability to handle such a role came in 2004 when she became the breakout star on the revamped Battlestar Galactica with her role as the mysterious and manipulative Number Six. That was followed by a steady stream of roles in Burn Notice, Dark Blue, The Firm, Tron: Uprising and Killer Women.

Her latest series, Lucifer, has given her the chance to play two strong characters. She joined the cast in the second season to play Lucifer’s (Tom Ellis) mother. If you think the devil is to be feared, then you should completely avoid his mom. It looked like Helfer’s character was not going to return for the third season of the Fox series when her character was sent into the Void by her son at the end of season two.

What appeared to be a sad departure ended up being a great opportunity for Helfer, as the human side of her character remained behind. She’s now getting to play a character who has her own special strengths. Helfer’s not only excited she gets to continue working on the series based on the comic books by Neil Gaiman and Sam Kieth, but the role is completely different than the one she played last season.

“The first couple of episodes back were really fun because the character is a woman whose intellect and high-powered job means everything to her,” Helfer said during a Fox party. “To not know anything about what happened in the last four months of her life really has her questioning herself.

“She finally decides to be a better person, but then she ends up floating for a while. But, by the end of the season it is a real shakeup for her again. It’s fun for me to play a human character who is really struggling with identity.”

Getting to return to Lucifer came as a surprise to Helfer, as she had signed on for only one season. Her co-star, Ellis, is happy Helfer’s back. (And it has nothing to do with sheepishly admitting to having a crush on Helfer when she was on Battlestar and how weird it is she’s playing his character’s mom.) He says Helfer’s addition to the cast “elevated the show to a new place.” That comes from how differently a person will act when they around their mother, even if that person is the devil.

Helfer’s character was an original creation, so it meant she could get little help from the comic books in putting together the pieces of her character. She did read some of the works to get a sense of the overall tone of the story and have a better idea about the Lucifer universe.

Research is a part of her work process, but Helfer’s always cautious about how much homework she does. The last thing she wants is to get pulled between what she’s seeing in the script and what she knows about the background.

“It’s a real balancing act. You want to pay homage to the other, but you also have to really focus on the project you are doing,” Helfer says.

That balancing act has been done in a wide variety of roles. When it comes to selecting a project, the first rule is the bills have to be paid. But, after that, Helfer tries to mix up the work she’s doing as much as possible. The bottom line is there are very few acting jobs Helfer won’t do, but it does help when she can make a connection with the role, whether it be the strength the character shows or the people with which she’ll work.

So far she’s played everything from a robot to a Texas Ranger.

“If I only played one type of role, how boring would that be? To me, the fun part of acting is getting to play all facets of humanity and in that finding facets of yourself you can draw from. In many ways, it’s like therapy,” Helfer says.

The strength Helfer has shown in multiple characters is something she needs in her own life. She talks about what difficult a year it has been with the death of her grandmother, the passing of two pets and what she describes as a “very tough personal situation in my marriage.” A few weeks after the interview, it was revealed Helfer and her husband of 13 years, Jonathan Marshall, are getting a divorce.

Helfer smiles and says, “I will say that I have been able to use some of the things going on in my personal life in a scene or two of the show.”

Luciferairs at 8 p.m. Mondays on Fox.

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