[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers through the Season 2 finale of The Umbrella Academy, “The End of Something.”]
When it comes to the Umbrella Academy, just because you’ve stopped the apocalypse, it doesn’t mean that you’ve actually saved the world. Jumping time and finding themselves scattered in and around Dallas, Texas, over a three-year period starting in 1960, has disrupted the timeline and started a doomsday clock. As they work to reunite, figure out what caused the nuclear destruction, find a way to put a stop to it, and return to their present timeline, they must survive assassins, romantic relationships, and a number of other oddities, if they’re going to rebuild their family and make it out alive.
Ellen Page, who plays Vanya (the most powerful Hargreeves family member), recently got on the phone with Collider to chat all things Season 2 of the Netflix original series The Umbrella Academy, adapted from the graphic novels by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá. During this 1-on-1 interview, she talked about building on the first season, the emotional depth and transformation in the material, getting to do another fun dance number, the show’s depiction of Vanya’s sexuality, how much she knew about the story arc before shooting the season, her reaction to learning about the shocking cliffhanger, not getting the final scene until just before they shot it, and that very memorable family dinner scene.
COLLIDER: What did you most enjoy about doing the first season of this series and exploring the introduction of this world, and how did it feel to return to it and build on that for Season 2?
ELLEN PAGE: I had such a blast, the first season. I’d never gotten to play a character for that length of time, so getting to play Vanya, with that extreme of an arc and, as an actor, trying to navigate that and figure that out was incredibly enjoyable and fulfilling. And then, also, I’m working with such an incredibly talented cast and crew, because they’re the ones who fucking pull all that shit off. And I get to shoot something that has this emotional depth and transformation, and then also just have a lot of fun. And then, the second season was just such a blast because it was also so different. There was the same emotional core and the same issues, while getting to create and form a new character that has this new lightness. She’s more open. She falls in love, for the first time. She’s more active and engaged with her powers. This second season just took it all up a notch for me.
You also got another fun dance number this season, in the hair salon. What was it like to get to do that again?
PAGE: That is one thing that I love about the show. Last season was super fun, but as you see, Vanya can barely dance. For Season 1, I thought that was such a great way to introduce all of these individual people in the first episode. And then, this season, to get to shoot that scene, where we’ve all been drinking and we’re doing these ‘60s moves that the director would yell out, it was very free and loose. It was nice to play Vanya in a way where she’s really able to express herself.
How do you feel about the show’s depiction of Vanya’s sexuality, especially as you got to explore her relationship this season?
PAGE: Obviously, not that there’s not incredible obstacles and challenges now, but it was so fucking nice to get to play Vanya falling in love for the first time, and her being able to open up to someone in that way. She’s falling in love with a woman, and just knowing that representation is going out into the world, on a show that has the reach that it has… If you told me, when I was 26 years old, that I’d be out, playing a queer character, wearing clothes that you want the character to wear, I would’ve been like, “That’s impossible.” So, to be feeling that now is pretty amazing. I got to not only play Vanya falling in love for the first time, but to also work with the incredible Marin Ireland, who’s just so talented. We wanted to do our best telling that story, in that time, being able to show all of the beauty and the joy, and also focus on the depth of their love and care for one another.
How much did you know about the full arc of the season and the characters, and how much did you learn about the season as you got each script?
PAGE: It was similar to the first season, where we had a general idea. In some ways, we learn more and more as we’re progressing with shooting the season. It’s a combination, on some level.
It seems as though whatever this group did in the past has changed their present, leading to there being no more Umbrella Academy. Now, it’s the Sparrow Academy and we see this unfamiliar group in the shadows. Have you thought about who that group in the shadows is? Do you have your own theories about where all of that could go next?
PAGE: I’ve heard a couple of things. I don’t think I’m allowed to divulge. My apologies.
Do you have any of your own guesses, as to who they might be?
PAGE: No, no personal guesses. I’m along for the ride, like everybody else.
When did you learn about the ending for the season, and what was your reaction to learning where things would end?
PAGE: Oh, my god, I was like, “What an awesome cliffhanger! That is so good!” I just was excited and curious. I know a bit, but I don’t know tons. Knock on wood, we get to continue telling this story. I certainly hope so. And then, knowing that Ben was going to come back in that way was great, because Justin is just so good. Finally getting to work with Justin, in that scene when I’m on acid in the FBI, getting not just interrogated but tortured, was just so phenomenal. So, I’m excited to see everything that will happen with that character.
The first season ended on a big cliffhanger, and now the second season has ended on an even bigger cliffhanger. Are you a fan of cliffhanger endings, and leaving things on that big shocking moment?
PAGE: I love a good cliffhanger. To have your final moment or your final shot make me go, “Oh, my god!”, that’s such a joy. Certain shots, I’ll never forget. So, I love a good cliffhanger.
Were there any big changes to the story or characters during the filming of Season 2, or did things stay pretty close to what you thought they would be?
PAGE: Things stayed pretty close. Things do leak, so the last page or two of the final episode wasn’t available. Even though there was an idea of what was happening, we didn’t fully know the whole thing, so that was exciting. But for the most part, it’s what one expects. I’ll learn more things about other storylines that I’m not engaged in. It’s always fun for me to watch because I’m not in a bunch of it, and then I get to watch all of these awesome storylines. Of course, I have the scripts, but it’s cool to get to see.
You have quite the family dinner scene in this, where everyone gets to eat a brain on a plate. What was that like to shoot and to look at, and what was the brain made out of?
PAGE: Oh, my god! To shoot, it was fun. As Vanya, emotionally, it was not really “fun,” but it was fun when we were all together. And eating that, it was pretty disgusting. Everybody was grossed out. Shout out to the props team because I think they did such a good job with that. All of us were definitely not loving eating that.
The Umbrella Academy Season 2 is streaming now on Netflix.
Christina Radish is a Senior Reporter of Film, TV, and Theme Parks for Collider. You can follow her on Twitter @ChristinaRadish.