Watch The Umbrella Academy cast have a (virtual) family reunion to discuss season 2
The last time we saw the Umbrella Academy — ape-bodied leader Luther (Tom Hopper), street-smart vigilante Diego (David Castañeda), powerfully persuasive Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), medium Klaus (Robert Sheehan), time-traveling Number Five (Aidan Gallagher), the late Ben (Justin H. Min), and supersonic wild card Vanya (Ellen Page) — the world was exploding all around them. Having failed to stop Armageddon, Number Five used his powers to take the group back in time.
When season 2 begins Friday on Netflix, we see where they’ve ended up: 1960s Dallas. The problem is, they didn’t all land at the same point. So once again, the Umbrella Academy must reunite in time to stop another apocalypse—this one bearing down in 1963 because of their disruptive presence.
Last fall, EW visited the set of The Umbrella Academy to interview the actors about the creation of season 2; you can read about that in our new digital cover story. Months later, as the release date got closer, we caught up with the cast over Zoom for a "family reunion" of sorts, so they could all discuss season 2 together with showrunner Steve Blackman. Check it out in video form above, and written out below.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Given where we last saw your characters, what are their biggest challenges going into season 2?
TOM HOPPER: Luther felt like he had something to prove. He made a few mistakes that were a bit power-hungry. So he’s dealing with a lot of guilt, and still dealing with some daddy issues. In season 2, he’s going to have to discover who he is outside the Academy.
DAVID CASTAÑEDA: I will piggyback on those daddy issues. In season 1, Diego was trying to find [his] identity. The second season is more about trying to understand Dad. Steve had given me a glimpse of what was going on in Diego’s mind: “Maybe Dad brought us all together to stop something similar to JFK’s death.” That’s what Diego is trying to figure out; if he can stop JFK from dying, maybe he can come closer to understanding his father.
AIDAN GALLAGHER: Five doesn’t really know who he is. He’s never had that time to develop. He’s just gone through trauma after trauma, rushed from event to event. Season 2 is a continuation of that journey to save the world and his family. The stakes are a lot higher in the ’60s; there’s so much more that can go wrong with the time-line that it really stresses [him] out. He’s developing a relationship with his siblings and that brings out his humanity, but he still has to stay on task if he wants to save the world.
JUSTIN H. MIN: Ben is dead at the end of season 1. At the start of season 2, uh, he’s still dead. But he’s with Klaus, as always, and they’re up to even crazier shenanigans. Our relationship evolved and we get to have a little more fun with that.
ELLEN PAGE: At the end of the first season, Vanya blew up the moon. Her emotional state had to be learned throughout that season in terms of her childhood difficulties and the degree of trauma that she’s repressed so greatly. We saw her getting more and more in touch with that, before that massive release at the end. At the beginning of season 2, she doesn’t remember any of it — between the head trauma, the gunshot, and all of that energy coming out. She also suffers a brain injury. So she’s now much more confident and more in touch with her emotional self. Then she begins a whole other journey of growth.
What do you remember about your first days back, filming season 2?
EMMY RAVER-LAMPMAN: So much of the first season was about the seven of us figuring out the family dynamic and making that believable. With season 2, I had more confidence in who Allison was. But when we pick up, she’s grappling with her new surroundings and the new rules: where she can and can’t go, what she can and can’t do. I was really emotional starting the season because it did feel like a big honor, but also a challenge, to take on this time period as a Black woman. David, wasn’t your first scene shooting in that haunted asylum?
CASTAÑEDA: That was probably one of the best experiences, especially to start off the first day. I don’t think I slept very much. It was these nerves. I had spent time in a jungle before getting there, so I was in my hotel room thinking, like, “Okay, tomorrow it starts.” I was going a little crazy!
ROBERT SHEEHAN: I like season 2 Klaus. He feels a bit older. He’s gone off drugs and he’s slowed down, but the challenge with season 2 was to put something else in there for him to flee from. Sobriety was that in the first season, and now he’s created this cult. But he can’t deal with the praise; it’s just become strangulating. He’s perpetually in flight.
There’s a strong musical component to The Umbrella Academy going back to the comics and co-creator (and My Chemical Romance frontman) Gerard Way’s sensibilities. But this season, all the fight scenes are set to pop songs.
RAVER-LAMPMAN: Oh my God, the Backstreet Boys! I was dead.
HOPPER: When I’m reading the scripts and it tells me what song is gonna be playing, I love to put that song on and read the script with it [playing] in the background, to know what it’s going to feel like. It does inform the mood and themes.
STEVE BLACKMAN: Sometimes I write, and before I know what the scene is, I’m flipping through music, hear a song, and go, Okay, now I know how to write this fight scene, I know how to write this emotional scene.
SHEEHAN There’s the headline, EW: Steve Blackman, big Backstreet Boys fanatic.
Did you listen to any particular music to get in the headspace?
GALLAGHER: Whenever Steve writes a chaotic scene where Five is just out of his mind with intensity, I’ll always go back to [MCR’s] The Black Parade. On the drive over, I’m looking at the scene and I have this intensity of guitars raining down upon me, so by the time I get to hair and makeup I’m just like, Come on!
HOPPER: Oh, that’s what was wrong with you? I’ve just always thought to myself, “Wow, Aidan’s intense in the morning.”
RAVER-LAMPMAN: I created a playlist of songs from, like, 1960 to 1965 that I could listen to if I had a spare moment. Music is such a big part of the show, but also the music of the ’60s is so specific and iconic.
How is Allison’s experience in the ’60s different from her siblings’?
RAVER-LAMPMAN: She came from a place where she was adored and celebrated. Then she plops into the ’60s, where she’s hated and hunted because of the color of her skin. Her world has been flipped upside down. Not only because she’s stuck in a time that’s not her own but one where her pure existence is dangerous for her. She lands, crosses the street, and immediately experiences a “Whites Only” sign. As an actor and a Black woman, and just as an American, I’ve seen those images, I’ve seen those documentaries. I learned about them, but to then be confronted with them in real life is a whole different thing. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.
SHEEHAN: Allison went from global celebrity to this place with no voice and restricted liberty, where Klaus was basically scoring whatever pills on the street and then thrust into this cult stardom. It was a bit of role reversal, I just realized.
Justin, what would Ben say to the other siblings if he could?
MIN: “Stop being dumb and get your act together.” With the evolution of Klaus’ powers this season, he does get to do that to a certain extent, with being able to possess Klaus.
Did you give Robert any tips about how to play Ben?
MIN: Actually, Robert was being annoying all season and mimicking me all the time. We would be happily having a conversation and then suddenly he’d just start repeating my words and my mannerisms.
BLACKMAN: The saddest thing about Ben is, he’s the most insightful character of all of them, and yet he has the worst translator in Klaus.
What was it like expanding the cast with all these new characters—Allison’s husband Ray Chestnut (Yusuf Greenwood), Diego’s friend Lila (Ritu Arya), and Vanya’s new love interest Sissy (Marin Ireland)?
RAVER-LAMPMAN: It was several episodes before we all started to interact with each other, so it was really nice to have fresh eyes and different dynamics to play off.
BLACKMAN: But it was great to see you guys all in the same room together the first time — on set as well! I hope the audience loves that moment. It’s wonderful to see you guys all together.