Tom Welling returns to television tonight on FOX's Lucifer, and the former Superman actor has explained what drew him back after all these years. Welling is most well-known for playing Clark Kent, aka Superman, on The WB's (later CW's) Smallville, which aired from 2001 to 2011 and told the story of Superman's early years, from his time as a teenager in Smallville to his time working as one of The Daily Planet's mild-mannered reporters in Metropolis.
Although several superhero shows predate Smallville, the acclaimed series - created by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar - arguably perfected the genre on television and gave The CW an outlet for which to spawn their colloquially named Arrowverse, consisting primarily of Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl. Of course, none of those shows included Welling's Superman, and despite his interest in appearing on The Flash, the actor was hesitant to return to television, and to the DC Universe, until Lucifer came along.
Lucifer returns for its third season tonight, and EW has spoken with Welling ahead of the premiere episode's debut. In the interview, the actor explained what drew him back to television after all these years as well as how it all happened.
"So this is going to sound cheesy, but it’s true. I had been in discussions with Fox on two other projects this year that didn’t work out — for one, I was too young and the other one I just wasn’t right for. On a Monday morning, I get a call from my agent and they say, 'We have an offer for you for the show called Lucifer to do 10 episodes,' and I was like, 'Okay, well, when does it start?' and they said, 'Friday.' I was like, 'Whoa, hold on a second,' and they go, 'But, but, but, it shoots in L.A.,' which is good because I live in L.A. Having spent so much time in Vancouver, the idea of traveling to me isn’t a priority — in a sense, it’s luxury problems.
Anyway, shortly after I got a call from a very dear friend of mine, Greg Beeman, who was our showrunner on Smallville for many years and had directed episodes of Lucifer, and he goes, 'I hear that your name’s in the mix to be on Lucifer. I know you, I’ve worked on the show, you’re going to love it, don’t overthink it.' So then I binge-watched about six episodes of the show, because I was familiar with the show, but they were like, 'Take a look at these six that we recommend for you to watch, these are our favorites,' and I watched them all, and Wednesday morning the conversation was, 'I don’t want to do 10 episodes,' and they said, 'Well, you have to do 10, it’s 10 or nothing.' I said, 'I want to do more, I want to do 15,' and so we signed on for 15 episodes, because I like it that much, and having met the cast and the crew they’re so much fun. They have a good time, they get their work done, they’re professional, but they’re enjoying themselves. I like the show, the show’s fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but they solve bit crimes and their issues and stuff like that. So I don’t know if that answers your question, but it at least gives you a jumping-off point about how it happened."
Aside from appearing in three movies - Peter Landesman's Parkland, Ivan Reitman's Draft Day, and Ross Katz's The Choice - Welling has largely remained out of the spotlight since his Smallville days came to an end in 2011. Considering how harrowing Smallville's shooting schedule was for him, it's understandable that he wouldn't want to return to that lifestyle after all these years. So, the fact Lucifer shoots in Los Angeles and that he's not playing the main character was enticing enough for him to make the jump back onto the small screen.
Welling will make his debut on Lucifer during the show's season 3 premiere episode as Marcus Pierce, an accomplished police lieutenant whose purpose on the show is, essentially, to draw out the devil inside Lucifer by getting close to Decker. We'll just have to wait and see how that all plays out for him this season.
Lucifer season 3 premieres tonight at 8 pm on FOX.