Channel24’s Bronwyn McKay flew to London to meet the cast of the new delightfully odd Netflix superhero series, The Umbrella Academy.
Cape Town – There are six new superheroes for the world to fall in love with and we got to know five of them in London.
From super strong, super bitter and super famous; to super high, super old and super ordinary, The Umbrella Academy has someone and something for everyone to relate to – there’s even a badass super assassin and another who is super over-worked.
MEET THE STARS OF THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY:
Described as “super evil” and a “super assassin” Mary J. Blige is a total badass as she takes on the role of Cha-Cha.
Speaking about her dreams of playing an action star, Mary says: “It was hard, but I was good. It was hard but I was determined to be great, I was determined to do my own fight scenes and to let people see me fighting.”
The American hitmaker is paired with Hazel (Cameron Britton) and had the absolute best time filming with him.
“What’s crazy and beautiful all at the same time is that we clicked from day one, through the work and through Cameron just being a beautiful person, a down to earth person. It was just great from day one, his energy was very inviting, and it was on from there.”
With a partner who lives for her job, Cameron’s role as Hazel includes complaining about management and eating raspberry doughnuts, and he does it so brilliantly.
Sharing a little more about his character, Cameron says: “Hazel doesn’t want to put in the work, he just lets Cha-Cha do everything, and she is happy to, she’d do it for free.”
Revealing a little more about the challenges of filming action scenes, with their assassin disguises, he adds: “Imagine not being able to see or breath and being in a fist fight, it was tricky. The eyes actually pop out and we started insisting on that, so then they actually just CGIed the eyes back in.”
Number One aka Luther
Tom Hopper is the muscle man of The Umbrella Academy and is named ‘Number One’ by his adoptive father.
And while his exterior is massive and muscular, Tom reveals he loves his character because there is way more to him than just muscles.
“He has this tough exterior, he has this big hawking body, but he’s not the stereotypical tough guy… he has a soft centre, and he’s quite a vulnerable man, he’s a hurting man and sensitive and romantic,” Tom explains.
Speaking about his first reaction to seeing himself with the big muscles, Tom admits: “We did screen tests of it and I went and thought, ‘My head looks so small’.”
But the Black Sails actor was also excited that it illustrated just how fun and different the show is.
“I think that we’ve managed to capture something that makes you go, ‘There’s something different about this that I want to know more about’.”
Number Two aka Diego
David Castañeda transforms into the super bitter vigilante Diego, whose superpower is both throwing knives and having the ability to hold his breath for a long time.
Speaking about how he approached playing such a miserable character, David says: “I tried as much as possible to live in a routine-based kind of way because it is a very miserable state to be in 24/7 and so being light-hearted on set wasn’t something I didn’t do.”
But taking his job so seriously, was all worth it in the end.
“It was well worth it, especially because I didn’t think I was being a dick or anything it was just more of, ‘I need to do my job at the end of the day,’” David says.
Number Three aka Allison
With perhaps the most sought-after superpower amongst the group - to instantly alter reality by lying or starting a rumour - Emmy Raver-Lampman brings Allison to life in the best way imaginable.
And while she may have the superpower that everyone wants, even though she never actually uses it, Emmy admits what she loves most about Allison is that she’s seen as an equal to her all her brothers.
“She’s the only girl that was out fighting with the boys and so I was like, ‘That’s really cool that she’s the badass sister’. I could fight just as a hard and run just as fast and train just as long and be just as good as they were. The bar was set and gender was not related.”
Number Four aka Klaus
His character’s superpower is seeing and speaking to dead people and he suppresses it by using drugs, so it would only be understandable for Robert Sheehan to have prepared by doing “a lot of visual diaries” to make Klaus as real as possible – something he learned from Daniel Day-Lewis.
“I did a lot of diaries and stuff to, kind of, texture the personal history of the character, to give him as much humanness, to give him as much of a history as possible, to make him feel as utterly real.”
Speaking about Klaus’ abilities to communicate with the dead, Robert, referring to Ghost quips, “it’s very Patrick Swayze, isn’t it,” before sharing the correlation between speaking to dead people and struggling with drug abuse.
“The whole speaking to the dead is sort of an abstraction of the pain and turmoil that drug addicts go through, that was supposed to be a visual way of representing them and I think that’s what’s so nice about how Steve adapted the show from the comics.”
Number Seven aka Vanya
Vanya is the absolute dark horse of the show. She is emotionally abused and ostracised by her family but goes on one of the most pivotal journeys in The Umbrella Academy, something Ellen Page calls “a dream for an actor.”
The Canadian actress returns to the small screen after 15-years with a character she immediately knew was meant for her.
“Vanya - which was amazing because I got sent it, wasn’t familiar with the comic, read just the first episode which doesn’t give you very much information about Vanya, she hardly speaks - was a role where I was like, ‘Yeah, I got it.”
And once she did get the part and found out more, Ellen says she very quickly related to Vanya’s emotional journey and believes others will too.
“We meet her [Vanya] and she struggles with depression and anxiety and doesn’t know how to be close to people and she really has to go on a journey to deeply find herself...and I think for me that journey was just very enjoyable to play, I related, and I would imagine lots of people will probably see themselves through Vanya.”
*Channel24’s trip to London was sponsored by Netflix.
(Photos: Christos Kalohoridis / Netflix)