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How Did Tom Ellis Master the Art of “Air Piano” for His Role as Lucifer?

Key Points:

  • Tom Ellis does his own singing but doesn’t play piano on Lucifer, only miming to “air piano”
  • He initially didn’t know how to play piano but later learned for authenticity
  • His air piano skills were honed through observing pianists and mimicking their movements

How Did Tom Ellis Perfect the “Air Piano” for His Role as Lucifer?

Tom Ellis in Lucifer
Tom Ellis in Lucifer

Tom Ellis brought the character of Lucifer Morningstar to life with his charm, wit, and musical talents on the hit show Lucifer. While he does his own singing, Ellis doesn’t actually play piano during the show’s musical numbers. Instead, he has mastered the art of miming along to an invisible or “air piano” to make his performance look authentic.

According to Wikipedia, Ellis admitted he didn’t really know how to play piano initially. As the show went on, he recognized the need to improve his air piano movements for more believability on screen during the musical numbers.

To make his air piano skills look convincing, Ellis studied the playing styles and movements of accomplished concert pianists. He paid close attention to how their arms, hands, and bodies moved while performing to capture the true essence and emotion of playing the piano.

Ellis worked alongside the show’s piano double, carefully observing and then trying to precisely mimic the double’s physical movements and mannerisms. He studied video recordings of the double playing the musical pieces from the show to match the intricate details.

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The actor took his preparation even further by watching performances from world-renowned pianists like Lang Lang. Ellis aimed to not just imitate their technical playing motions, but to understand and convey the passion and feeling behind the music through his own air piano movements.

Authenticity Pays Off

Tom Ellis in Lucifer
Tom Ellis in Lucifer

Ellis’ dedication to perfecting the subtle nuances of air piano paid off, lending an extra layer of authenticity to Lucifer’s musical performances over the show’s six seasons. Critics praised how seamless and convincing his air piano skills appeared.

By the final season that aired in September 2021, Ellis had truly mastered the art through years of diligent practice studying real pianists. His arm movements, facial expressions, and overall presence made it look as if he was an accomplished pianist bringing the music to life simply through pantomime.

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Lucifer aired on Fox from 2016-2018 before being picked up by Netflix for its final three seasons.

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