Based on the popular and award-winning Dark Horse Comics graphic novels created by Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance) and illustrated by Gabriel Bá, the Netflix series The Umbrella Academy follows the “children” of Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore), a billionaire industrialist who adopts seven of the 43 infants inexplicably born on the same day in 1989 to random women who showed no signs of pregnancy the day before. While they’ve been prepared to save the world, things are never that easy, and now that the impending apocalypse is very real, Luther (Tom Hopper), Diego (David Castañeda), Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), Klaus (Robert Sheehan), Vanya (Ellen Page) and Number Five (Aidan Gallagher) must get over their own family drama, if they have any chance of stopping global destruction.
At the Los Angeles press day to promote the new series, Collider got the opportunity to sit down with co-stars Tom Hopper, Emmy Raver-Lampman and David Castañeda to talk about what they thought about the pilot script, why these characters are so relatable, the incredible dance scenes, fight sequences, challenging moments, and where they think things could go next, in a possible second season. Be aware that there are some spoilers discussed.
Collider: When you read this, what were the questions that went through your head and how did you ultimately work all of that out, before signing on?
EMMY RAVER-LAMPMAN: For the first three months, we only had the pilot and what little details (showrunner) Steve [Blackman] would give us about where we were going. But even he, when we were shooting the pilot, didn’t know what was gonna happen, in time. He knew, but it was not totally fleshed out. But it was one of the best scripts that I had read, that whole pilot season. I was just so intrigued by the family aspect and the characters, and the fact that they are superheroes, but that’s not the most important thing. It felt so unique, with Pogo and Grace, and this brutally unfortunate up bringing that they all have. It was just so intriguing.
TOM HOPPER: It was really relatable. You could relate to all of them, in a weird way, or at least say, “I know someone like that.”
RAVER-LAMPMAN: Just when you start to forget that they have powers, you’re like, “Oh, right!”
HOPPER: Luther throws someone across the room and you’re like, “Wait, why am I doing that? Oh, right, they’re superheroes. Forgot about that!”
DAVID CASTANEDA: We all have our jobs to do it justice, with the comic books and the script, but in the end, there just had to be trust, especially when you’re doing wacky things like dancing, or you’re fighting and you’ve gotta trust that the stunt team and DP is doing the best job. Everything has to come together. That was the biggest thing for me, coming into this. I was like, “Okay, I need to fully allow myself to trust everyone,” because everyone brings their A-game to this.
How often do you get to do a project where you’re killing people, there are great fight scenes, the apocalypse is coming, and you get to dance?
RAVER-LAMPMAN: It’s unbelievable! What you just said is ridiculous. It’s so crazy!
HOPPER: It’s so brilliantly unique. As an actor, it’s such a massive gift to get a job like this because, what jobs do you get to do that in? It just doesn’t happen.
RAVER-LAMPMAN: I think I’m ruined forever. It’s my first [series regular role]. It’s really unfortunate, right of the gate.
HOPPER: After this, everyone is gonna have to try to meet this bar. In terms of an acting experience, the fact that every episode coming out, you think, “What’s it going to be? What are we going to be doing?,” is really exciting.
RAVER-LAMPMAN: To walk away from something that you’ve worked really hard on and can be proud of, isn’t always the case. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the piece isn’t good or that you didn’t have fun doing it, but to walk away, being like, “Wow, I’m really proud of my experience, the work that we did, and what we created,” it doesn’t get any better than that.
HOPPER: That’s such a good feeling.
RAVER-LAMPMAN: And I felt like that, every day. Even when there were miserable, hard times, and we were all frustrated, or we were angry that the scene didn’t go the way we wanted it to, or we couldn’t quite figure it out, or it was freezing and we were standing in the rain for hours, I still would go home, every day, and be like, “Yeah, that day was really rough, but this is gonna be unbelievable.” And I feel that, regardless of how it is received. Whether or not it becomes a huge hit, it doesn’t matter because I’m still so proud of it.
How long did you guys have to dance to Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now,” and do you just never want to hear the song again?
HOPPER: I still love it.
RAVER-LAMPMAN: I hear it, all the time. It took no time, really. We just showed up on set, they put the song on repeat, and then they let the cameras roll for 20 minutes, and let us get comfortable and goof around and do whatever we wanted. We were very free.
HOPPER: It was so much fun.
RAVER-LAMPMAN: It was so loud. You could hear it, out by our trailers.
HOPPER: We were like, “Just turn it up!” And it was such a fun environment on set, most of the time, anyway, but those moments were great. It all started with Steve Blackman. It had to be creative and collaborative, and it was great.
Tom and Emmy, I really love the dance number that you guys have together. It’s just so beautiful. What was that like to shoot?
RAVER-LAMPMAN: It was amazing! [Tom] smashed it out of the park.
HOPPER: I had the best teacher. Emma [Portner] was amazing, as our choreographer.
RAVER-LAMPMAN: I come from theater, but I would never consider myself a dancer first, so I was also nervous. Partnering is a whole different ball game than solo dancing, but I think we both were really excited about it. We loved the song, and we were so excited to work with Emma. I’m such a fan of her work. She and Steve had a conversation about that, and how it needed to be romantic with twinkling lights, but that it also needed to still have the quirk and uniqueness of the show. It couldn’t just be a waltz in the park because we’ve seen that a zillion times. So, there were little elements of it that are very Umbrella Academy. Collectively, we maybe rehearsed for six or seven hours, and then we only ran the whole scene about five times.
HOPPER: When they said that they got everything that night, we were both like, “What?! Can we do it a few more times?” It was done so quickly.
RAVER-LAMPMAN: It was also 3:00 in the morning, so everyone was ready to go home, but we were like, “No drone shot?” But, it was really fun. That was a really good memory.