Chat with the Umbrella Academy team: Saved by the bird

“What kind of bird is it?” I ask Umbrella Academy starring Robert Sheehan.

“It’s a sulphur-crested cockatoo,” he replies. “She’s been with me for years now.”

“Oh, cool,” I offer. “She seems very well educated.

“She eats sulfur-encrusted mealworms,” he adds.

“It looks like you want to eat it like it’s herb-crusted salmon or something,” laughs co-star Tom Hopper.

Playful jokes around a tropical bird usually don’t provide useful content during a junket. That’s not the case here.

Elliot Page as Viktor Hargreeves The Umbrella Academy | netflix

spoil the fun

The Zoom event carried severe solemnity for a show that, refreshingly, doesn’t take itself too seriously. An American publicist hovered over the proceedings like a dystopian panopticon, surveying attendees and punctuating waiting-room unease with reminders of “no spoilers!” This is, of course, after Netflix sent out a long list of plot points and characters that reporters couldn’t get to. As the “spoiler-free” schtick peaked amid COVID coverage, the Umbrella Academy the blitz was unlike anything I had seen. Even sending us the junket footage, the brass again reminded us to avoid spoiling things for the fans, which admittedly made me feel like a fool for attending.

However, the idea of ​​wet cover critics getting away with spoiling the fun for fans is as stupid as it is insulting. Any effort to reveal the twists Umbrella AcademyThe playful, convoluted plot of requires Tolstoy-like literary dexterity and a word count comparable to Anna Karenina. Critics have no interest in spoiling the fun for fans because we are fans too. (And we’re professional enough to talk about something knowing we have to write about it diligently.) Everyone was uneasy knowing that Mission Control’s Captain No-Spoilers was ready to push the button. red and sending homing missiles in our direction if we gave no indication that we had even watched the show. We can only thank Sulphur-crested Cockatoo for knocking the bird down and giving us something to talk about.

Gagged gags

Ironically, this whole spoiler thing ruined the proceedings, as even the actors were nervous about what they could and couldn’t discuss. For example, I asked Aiden Gallagher, who plays number five, something not particularly revealing about his character. He totally freaked out, asking when the story would be out and why I was asking. I replied that the plot point was not on the rap sheet provided by Netflix, but the exchange became a hectic mess. I said we could just try a different question and pivoted to his co-star Rintu Thomas, but then Gallagher seemed to be on a roll and gave random answers. Apparently he didn’t get the memo from Netflix stating “no games” among The game’s rules. The whole thing made me feel like Dakota Johnson meeting Ellen, but luckily it only lasted five minutes.

Elliot Page’s no-show, meanwhile, blew a huge hole in everyone’s stories. His absence left attendees in the awkward position of expecting his cisgender co-stars to talk about Viktor’s transition on the show or avoid the topic. I opted for the latter because asking the actors about their character in relation to Viktor’s exit was the fourth item on Netflix’s no-fly list. It’s a shame because it should be a point of praise in any article about the season.

Luckily, they argued with showrunner Steve Blackman to fix the issue. He explained that the season was written before Page came out on the team and said they could do what was best for the show with his transition. Blackman adds that there was no doubt about the show’s overhaul and reached out to GLAAD where Nick Adams offered advice on how to properly incorporate the transition. “He connected me with a trans writer named Thomas Page McBee, and Thomas and I worked with Elliot to tell an authentic story, a sensitive story, and a pro-trans story in a world where there are a lot of anti-trans stories,” Blackman observes. “The other thing we tried to do from a story perspective was not to make it the story of the season. It was a bit of a tricky dance, but it was very collaborative.

Emmy Raver-Lampman as Allison Hargreeves, David Castañeda as Diego Hargreeves, Robert Sheehan as Klaus Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy | netflix

Have fun with Ben, Allison and Diego

Viktor isn’t the only character who appears in a different light this season. Ben, played by Justin H. Min, plays an enhanced role as a member of Umbrella Academy’s rivals, Sparrow Academy. It’s a notable boost from the actor who turned heads in this year’s indie darling After Yang, but the actor says playing a human with Ben’s superhuman powers is very different from investing human emotions in a cyborg, like he did for Yang. “I would say this version of Ben in season three was the hardest because it’s the furthest from who I consider myself,” Min says, “I don’t consider myself a robot, but I think I do. “I shared similar qualities to Yang. It was emotionally and physically taxing to be in that character’s headspace for eight months. He was just a mean person.”

“He was so method!” Steps in is co-star David Castañeda, who plays Diego.

Min, Castañeda, and their Zoom partner Emmy Raver-Lampman, who plays Allison, have a casual relationship like Sheehan and Hopper that mirrors the show’s dynamic. Although they play a family on screen and become a surrogate family during filming, the actors insist there is no sibling rivalry behind the scenes.

“That kind of dynamic doesn’t exist on this show, and I think that’s something that we’re all very proud of,” Raver-Lampman observes. “We know this is an ensemble show and we’re all in the mud together and in the sun together. No one ever fights for more lines or a better script.

“Even from a character perspective, you never want to overstay your welcome,” Castañeda adds. “We’ve had enough of the audience wanting more of your script, and then someone else comes along with their script and it keeps the pace refreshing,” Castañeda says.

Britne Oldford as Fei, Justin H. Min as Ben Hargreeves, Christopher, Genesis Rodriguez as Sloane in The Umbrella Academy | netflix

Balance Tones

While the dramatic twist in the season premiere’s introduction, which we can’t elaborate on, might signal a decidedly darker tone, the cast say what to do with season three of Umbrella Academy was as fun as ever. “I had a really hard time playing this version of Allison,” notes Raver-Lampman. “In the past seasons, she’s been so well put together and she’s really good at putting up a facade and keeping people at bay. It was so much fun to play this really angry, emotionally upset version of her. due to the trauma of being thrown into the 60s as a woman of color.

This season’s intimate scope, which brings the drama inside the hotel in part due to practical COVID production considerations, gives the cast more room to explore their characters amid focused storylines. As relationships develop, Umbrella Academy juggles between sadness and joy as new interactions change the dynamic.

“When you said dark, I was like, ‘That’s where Allison was,'” Castañeda admits. “I was changing diapers. [We can’t say why.] That’s what I was doing.

Robert Sheehan as Klaus and Tom Hopper as Luther in The Umbrella Academy | netflix

Toronto Sights

Another family dynamic injects the stories of the Hargreeves siblings as undisclosed members explore family trees. A branch that Klaus follows leads to an encounter with his mother, who is played by Tom Hopper’s wife, Laura. Hopper says it was fun to keep the drama in the family.

“Laura obviously had to read for the role and when she sent in her tape for the role, Rob very kindly came over and read with her,” says Hopper. “So the momentum was already there. It was beautiful to see this strange mother-son relationship, even though they are the same age. Hopper says he wasn’t there the day they shot the scene, so he missed a hidden gem of the Toronto shoots.

The scene takes place on the shores of the cliffs of Scarborough where the white cliffs and blue waters contrast sharply with the Gothic interiors of the series’ iconic hotel. “I’ve never been there before, shamefully,” Sheehan laughs. “I was in Toronto for two seasons before that and in between, but I had never been through the Scarborough Bluffs. I must say that it is partly the fault of the Torontonians. People talk about it, but it’s beautiful, breathtaking. Sheehan adds that filming Bluffs provided a reprieve from the claustrophobia of filming during the peak of COVID. “The crew was buzzing that they were all out.”

Blackman, who grew up in Canada and went to school in Toronto, adds that the character of the city gives a natural dynamic to The Umbrella Academy. “The hard part is they start tearing down these old buildings that we all loved when we were little,” observes Blackman. “So we’re going more to Hamilton and Pickering, but it’s great to shoot. Hamilton has become a very busy place to shoot because you get some of the buildings that have beautiful style and architecture that are replaced by glass .and steel in Toronto. But the crews are great. They are hard working crews.

Some things, it seems, just can’t be messed up. Although I never asked the cockatoo what he liked the most in Toronto.

Season three of The Umbrella Academy is now on Netflix.