Boy did we have a great year of television in 2019. We had Amazon Prime’s The Boys hitting us up in all its bloody superhero glory in July and we had the compellingly brutal and powerful The Watchmen from HBO in October. But before all them came Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy in the February of that year – truly setting us up for what was going to be a seriously impressive year of television.
After 43 women around the world give birth on the same day (after showing no previous signs that they were pregnant), The Umbrella Academy follows seven of these miraculous children who have been adopted by eccentric billionaire Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore). Turning them into the superhero team The Umbrella Academy, the show begins when Hargreeves mysteriously dies and the siblings (now grown up and estranged) return to the mansion where they were brought up and trained.
Not that the mansion holds many great memories – Hargreeves was a harsh father to say the least, giving his children numbers rather than names and making sure they have a rigorous training schedule to ensure they are as powerful as they can be. With their only mother figure a robot (who does eventually give them actual names), it’s no wonder our super sibs are pretty messed up.
In the team we have Luther (who is super strong), Diego (who has incredible aim and is pretty handy with knives), Allison (who can whisper suggestions to people, making them do whatever she wants), Klaus (who can talk to the dead), Number Five (who can teleport through space and time – though he’s not really great at controlling the latter), Ben (who is now dead but could turn himself into a tentacled beast), and Vanya (who at first didn’t seem to have any powers at the beginning of the season but in fact is the most powerful of them all, having the ability to use soundwaves to catastrophic results).
After finding out she does indeed have powers and that her father had been suppressing them through mind-control and drugs, Vanya loses control in a big way. She destroys the moon and thus causes the end of the world. However, before they’re destroyed, Five (Aidan Gallagher) manages to teleport them somewhere… but where?
In Season Two we find out that Five has teleported The Umbrella Academy to fifties America – but at different times throughout that decade. Not only that, but they have brought the end of the world with them. Can Five gather them all together and save the world… again? We spoke to actor Tom Hopper who plays Luthur to find out more…
What’s it like coming back to The Umbrella Academy for Season Two?
Great! It’s been really good to go back. Once we knew we were going back in to do a second season [of The Umbrella Academy] and the show had obviously done very well, we were all really excited to get back at it and get into this world. We’ve also sort of fallen in love with these characters ourselves and playing with each other with them you know – it’s a lot of fun to do. So to get back into that world now we really know who they are, allowed us to really loosen up as actors and really play with each other. Fortunately, it’s turned out to be a great season of television!
What’s it like being on The Umbrella Academy set?
We often say that it’s too much fun! Because it’s a big ensemble, the hardest times on set is really the waiting around but once you’re on set it’s the best. The crew are amazing, we’ve got such a great team up there in Toronto [where we shoot the series]. It’s like one big family – what you see on screen really depicts what the feel of the atmosphere on set is. I think all the actors try to lead from the front with that kind of atmosphere, we try and keep it a fun environment.
You have to put on a pretty large bodysuit to play Luther…
We started shooting in the summer in Toronto which is a very, very hot time and in a suit it kind of doubles up so it was particularly hot! But you kind of get used to it; your body adjusts and you just get on with it. There’s no point in moaning about things like the suit really because it’s happening whether you like it or not! Also in a way, it really helped me find who Luther is. Luther is uncomfortable in that body, so whenever I put it on I feel like I know who Luther is. You know what his discomforts are and what the practicalities are of having a body that big…
Even though he’s huge, Luther is quite a shy character…
Yeah absolutely, that’s the beauty of Luther. I think in my eyes he is a very small man in a huge body. He knows what his powers are, he knows that he’s strong but he’s always kind of fighting against it. He’s very insecure. [He has] what I would call extreme body dysmorphia in some way; like he just doesn’t fill that body mentally and he’s got some deep mental issues because of it, and he’s got some serious daddy issues. So yeah it’s important for me that they all come out.
I think some people maybe find it annoying that he’s kind of mopey and if he was scrawny whether people would find it [better]… Almost like “come on man, you’ve got that huge body – fill it!” and he just doesn’t.
You know I think what is interesting about the second season is we might start to see him be more comfortable in it and be comfortable with who he is outside of The Umbrella Academy. So eventually he’ll be able to come back to them and feel content within the unit again…
Luther had a pretty rough first season – he finds out his father puts him on the moon for no real reason for one! Are things a little bit more positive for him in this second season?
Yeah I mean obviously you know it’s always fun to see Luther dealing with stuff but I think there’s a lighter element to it this time. What I love about Luther is his constant struggles. I suppose he’s always torn in two directions and he’s fighting with what the right thing to do is. Because that’s the thing with Luther – he always wants to do the right thing no matter what. His intentions are always right and he doesn’t always get it right but I really enjoy acting on those struggles and those dilemmas he gets himself into through this season. It’s certainly fun to play but I hope that comes across.
Even though he’s usually serious, Luther had some lovely comedic moments in the first season – will we be seeing more of that?
I hope so! Yeah I mean I certainly had even more fun with him this season with that side of things. Then Steve Blackman, you know the writers, they throw me some great scenes particularly later on in the season as well. I love doing that stuff. I get a real kick out the slightly more humorous side of Luther.
We really enjoyed the DIY promo video you and the cast did for Season Two – echoing the Season One’s promo video but filmed yourselves at home while in lockdown. Did you get many pointers on what to do for that?
It was kind of ‘go for it’ but also ‘we’d like you to tick a few boxes’. It was actually like ‘repeat these things you invented in the first place that went down well’. So yeah, my favourite – which I think has become a bit of a fan favourite – is the crab-dance. Which is actually a move that I saw in a nightclub once by a girl. It was basically like a mating ritual in front of a rugby player she was trying to impress, and this girl did this crab- dance in front of this very confused rugby player that I think was attracted to her and then started to question it.
Me and my mates all saw this, so it kind of went down in history around my group of mates as the crab-dance. So when I got it in the show all my mates were like “yeah you got it in there!” – I was delighted that it made the cut!
Did the dance work for the girl?!
I don’t know I mean I have to say that the rugby player looked very confused about whether he should continue this venture or not with this girl so I’ve no idea whether it worked out. I’m guessing not…!
If you could choose anytime to send The Umbrella Academy, when would you send them?
I love the Eighties. It’s a great era – so I’d like to see them in the Eighties. But also, I’d love them to go to the future – but to the Back To The Future 2 future of 2015, which is actually, technically in the past now but that specific future I would love to send to!
That’s my favourite movie franchise. Probably my favourite movie is Back to the future 2 just because I love and grew up on those movies and I obsessed about that future in Back to the future 2 – the idea of hoverboards and flying cars and just that whole world, I loved it!
What’s coming up next for you?
At the moment everything has gone very very quiet in the industry but in terms of shooting, I have other projects that I’m slated to shoot as soon as the productions are up and running again so I’m very excited to get into those.
I shot a movie called The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard which we shot last year. It’s the sequel to The Hitman’s Bodyguard with Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson. That will come out I believe next year now because obviously cinemas closed.
Another movie [I have coming out] is with my good friend Sam Heughan, and Noel Clark and Ruby Rose, called SAS: Red Notice which is a movie based on the Andy McNab novel, Red Notice.
Do you like doing action movies?
Yeah, I tend to delve my way into those sorts of things but what I always look for with action is I need to know that it’s got a really good character development storyline in it. I don’t believe action is earned without good character development within the story. So whenever I choose [an action movie] it has to have that – before I even think about the action, it has to earn it.
The Umbrella Academy Season Two launches on Netflix 31 July.