Meet the numbered members of Umbrella Academy

Raymond de Asis Lo - The Philippine Star
Meet the numbered members of Umbrella Academy
The cast of Netflix’s 10-episode series Aidan Gallagher, Colm Feore, Dante Albidone, Cameron Brodeur, Eden Cupid, Ethan Hwang and Blake Talabis

MANILA, Philippines — Streaming on Netflix now is The Umbrella Academy, the adaptation of the Eisner Award-winning graphic novel created by Gerard Way, the frontman of the great rock band My Chemical Romance and illustrated by Gabriel Ba.

The 10-episode series is an intense family drama power-charged with supernatural elements and superhero action. The story begins in 1989 when, at noontime on the first day of October, 43 women around the world mysteriously discover that they are nine-months pregnant and are about to give birth. The phenomenon piques the interest of an eccentric and reclusive billionaire who decides to adopt as many of those babies as possible. Seven of those babies end up under the billionaire’s care and six of them develop extraordinary abilities. The billionaire trains them to form what will become known as The Umbrella Academy, a gang of crime-fighters who each bear the same tattoo of a black umbrella. 

Flash-forward to the present, the once kid wonders are now young adults, living separately and grappling with the effects of their traumatic childhood. However, they are forced to set aside their differences and come together to help the world against the new threats. 

The real world inspiration for the series came to Gerard from his own experiences touring with his band. “I am a flawed person and I know flawed people and I was in a dysfunctional family with being in the band. There’s bits of all of them in these characters and there’s bits of people I met on the road.”

Gerard and the cast of The Umbrella Academy met with select journalists recently at a West Hollywood hotel to talk about the movie. 

Leading the cast is Oscar-nominated actress Ellen Page who portrays the fan favorite Vanya, the seventh adopted child who grew up believing that she is ordinary and inferior to her more powerful siblings. 

Ellen hopes the fans of the comics would take to her portrayal of Vanya the way they loved the character in the comics. “I always just try and approach it as honestly as possible and just make this character feel and reflect her as a person who’s struggling and dealing with a lot of issues and trauma that’s manifesting in her life.” 

Aidan Gallagher, who plays Number 5, is the only cast member who has read the graphic novel and professes to be a big fan.

“As a fan of the comics, they did the show justice,” he said stating that Ellen and the rest of his fellow cast members were perfect for their roles. “Steve Blackman, our show runner, and our incredible team of writers have really brought the story to life and fleshed it out because you are getting 10 hours instead of just two graphic novels.”

Aidan is a big comic book geek who grew up hanging around comic bookstores, chatting with store managers asking for recommendations on what new books to read. “I got these two awesome graphic novels and they were nothing like anything I had read prior,” he raved. “These are incredibly unique and the dysfunctional dynamic between all of us is interesting to read.”

Gerard Way, the frontman of My Chemical Romance who wrote the novel

Those unfamiliar with the source material will discover that the superheroes in The Umbrella Academy are different from the usual breed of superheroes TV and movies have been churning lately.

“Not the kind who wants to save the day at the end,” British actor Robert Sheehan said in jest. 

Robert plays Number 4 or Klaus. His character has the power to summon and commune with the dead when he is not drunk. So he drinks all day. 

“We’re all encouraged to approach it as humanly as possible,” he said when asked how he prepared for his role.

Production for The Umbrella Academy took six months. The cast was hauled in Toronto, Canada for the entire shoot and that helped them get closer and bring to life the family dynamic essential in the narrative. 

“We’ve all got serious issues,” actor Tom Hopper said describing the troubled history of his character and his siblings. “Luther, particularly, has got some serious dad issues in that he’s the one who always wanted to please him and he’s never really fulfilled it. I don’t think Luther could ever feel fulfilled unless he felt like he has saved the world somehow.”

Tom, who previously appeared as Dickon Tarly in the acclaimed series Game of Thrones, plays Luther or Number 1, the responsible leader of the Academy and the only one who stayed with their dad after the Academy dissolved.

Stage actress Emmy Raver-Lampman plays Number 3/Allison. Her superpower allows her to bend anyone to her will. Through her power, she becomes a movie star but the same power cost her to lose her family and custody of her daughter.

Rounding out the cast is David Castaneda, who plays Number 2/Diego.

“A kid with a man’s body,” is how David describes his character. Diego always wanted to be the leader of the Academy and feels that all of his efforts never really got noticed. 

In the series, Diego is the only sibling who carried on fighting crime even after the Academy was dissolved. Not because he sincerely wanted to help but because he just wants to prove that he could be Number 1. 

One thing unique about The Umbrella Academy is that the superheroes are never known by any names; only by the numbers their father gave them. 

And if you were keen, nowhere in this story was Number 6 ever mentioned.

The answer lies in watching the series itself.




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