[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Season 3 of The Umbrella Academy.]Created for television by Steve Blackmanthe Netflix original series The Umbrella Academy sees the Umbrellas face off with the Sparrow Academy, after they took their place in the timeline, in their home, and with their father, leading to an immediate clash. At the same time, a destructive entity is destroying everything around them and the only way they can keep the universe from ending (again!) Is to find some common ground and a way to work together.
During this interview with Collider, co-stars Emmy Raver-Lampman (who plays Allison, the Umbrella with the ability to influence events), David Castañeda (who plays Diego, the Umbrella with the power to manipulate thrown objects such as knives while in flight), and Justin H. Min (who plays Ben, the Sparrow who wants to be his own team’s leader) talked about the utter chaos of Season 3, getting to do such a big dance number, how surreal it was for Min to return to a familiar show as a different incarnation of his character, the presence of Stan (Javon “Wanna” Walton), that moment between Luther (Tom Hopper) and Allison in episode five, and what the finale cliffhanger could mean going forward.
Collider: It’s been nearly two years since we last saw the Umbrellas meeting the Sparrows on the balcony for the first time and you guys all told me that you had your own theories for what that cliffhanger could mean moving forward. When you found out where things would go this season, was it anything close to what you thought it might be?
DAVID CASTAÑEDA: No, not one bit.
EMMY RAVER-LAMPMAN: No. This season is utter chaos. You hope, and you have pre-season conversations with Steve [Blackman] and you get the broad strokes, but that’s also individually. I did not know the journey that Diego was gonna go on, or the journey that Klaus was gonna go on. And then, we have this unbelievable journey that Viktor goes on, which is also so incredible. I, for sure, did not see where a lot of this was going. I did not see Allison becoming a murderer. I definitely did not see that coming. That was tricky. She’s really sad, you guys.
I love that we barely spend any time with the Umbrellas interacting with the Sparrows before there’s a big, full-on dance number to “Footloose” with everybody. It’s truly the absolute best. What was it like to do a dance number with double the cast, and how did you feel about the song selection and the choreography of it all?
CASTAÑEDA: When Steve first said there was gonna be a big dance, he was like, “So, you guys better get ready to start learning your moves and stuff,” and I knew he had something up his sleeve. But the amount of time that was really put into rehearsals, and with the Sparrows coming in, it was close to eight or nine weeks of just rehearsals, whether it was Zoom during quarantine, or in person and in space. By the time we got to the rehearsal space with the Sparrows, it was just really exciting. It was like the new kids from school. They were just there. We wanted to know more about them. We have a superb casting director, who is obviously very tuned into what the show needs, so once we got to play with them on set and dance with them, it was elation.
JUSTIN H. MIN: I still have nightmares about the whole sequence. It was terrifying and traumatic, as someone who could not dance.
RAVER-LAMPMAN: Justin was not a fan.
MIN: But I will say our incredible choreography team helped us to feel really comfortable and at ease. It was such a bonding experience for all of us. It was one of the first big set pieces that we filmed together, and it felt like we had just gone through a boot camp together, and then got to film this climactic moment.
CASTAÑEDA: Yeah. We were actually gonna have more time, but then COVID protocols shifted. We thought we had another two weeks of prep, and they were like, “Actually, no, we start next week.”
MIN: No, they said, “We start tomorrow.”
CASTAÑEDA: Yeah, it was that quick.
RAVER-LAMPMAN: Oh, that’s right! We were supposed to shoot it at the end of February, but in Ontario, at the time, the maximum amount of people you could have on set was 50. And with the cast alone, you’re already looking at 18 people, so it was originally gonna be at the end of the month. We had a full month of in-person rehearsals to learn the dance, the fight, the camera choreography, and all of it. And then, Ontario lifted that restriction, and it was like, “Actually, we’re gonna do it next week.” But everyone pulled it together and pulled it off, and I’m really proud of it. I think Steve should be really proud of it. And actors, like Justin, who have never been asked to do something like that on camera before, it takes a lot of bravery to be vulnerable like that and learn something new, and I’m just really proud of everybody that jumped on board and went with it and nailed it. It’s so good.
It really is. I’ve come to expect some singing and dancing from the show every season, but I never know what, and this just blew my mind. Justin, how weird is it for you to be back on the show, and you’re playing the same character, but you’re not playing the same character? How does that feel, as an actor? Did you have to find him, all over again?
MIN: Definitely. It was surreal to be on a show that I’m familiar with and know the cast, but also have a completely different relationship with and a different iteration of this character. In many ways, it felt like I was filming a different show. And also, because a lot of my scenes were with the Sparrow Academy, it was a brand-new cast, so it felt even more like that. But I had so much fun. Because of our long hiatus, I had the time and space to build this character from the ground up with Steve and think about how he was different. Steve Blackman made all the Sparrows train rigorously. I went to the gym for the first time, which was very exhausting. Even getting in that physical space and vocal space, helped me to embody this new version of Ben.
He is also much angrier, which seems like it would be a little bit exhausting.
MIN: Yeah. David and I have been talking, it’s almost a mirror of where Diego was at Season 1. It’s that same anger and resentment that I do not think Ben has really evolved past. I think Diego has now evolved past it, into Season 3.
David, what was your reaction to learning about the storyline with Stan and having that be such a part of the season? What were your hopes for what that could be, and how do you feel about what that ultimately turned into?
CASTAÑEDA: When personalities really clash, they can make a spark, and it was all based on the chemistry and the joy that came from playing opposite one another. When I found out that he was gonna have a son, my favorite buddy films are road trip buddy films, where you have a contrast of characteristics clashing with each other. When they got [Javon] “Wanna” [Walton], I was like, “If I just play it straight enough, it’ll play.” And there was that frustration. That was the fun part, but underneath it all, there was the closure that he was gonna have to deal with his own father to be able to become the father that he would want to be for himself with Stan. The first day on set, when I got to meet Wanna, he was just so open and curious and up for anything. He’s tough. He’s a boxer. He was like, “Yeah, rough me up.” It was great to have someone who was just willing to go there with me, and then in between takes, we were just like two little kids running around.
Emmy, there is a moment in episode five, when Allison rumors Luther into being with her, and it feels very selfish and upsetting. That whole moment was very difficult to watch. What was your reaction to that moment, as the actor, ad how do you feel about what she did, even if she did not ultimately go through with it?
RAVER-LAMPMAN: I was actually really excited by that moment. I think there are two moments in the season that are turning points for Allison. Her relationship with Luther has always been really special. In the chaos in which they were raised, and in the world in which they were raised and how they were raised, they just always had a special bond and a special connection. That was a moment, halfway through the season, where Allison was becoming a little bit more self-aware and, for the first time, was starting to reach out and open up to someone, to have a conversation. Until she met Ray, that person was always Luther, and that’s the moment where she was on the precipice of communicating her pain and her trauma to someone, and then Luther slights her and says, “Okay, I’m gonna go see Sloane. ” It’s her first realization that he might be that for her, but she’s no longer that for him, so she kicks into this weird thing. I do not even know that it’s jealousy. I think it’s pure betrayal. I think she feels betrayed by him and this is when her anger and her irrational thinking takes over. She’s just trying to prove a point, but then it very quickly gets out of hand.
And so, I just thought that was a really exciting moment, as an actor, to get to play, for the first time, using her powers on the person that she does love and trust and care for so much, in such a negative way . We start to realize how far gone she might actually be. The next thing that she does is kill Harlan, in the next episode. This is her realization of, “Oh, I actually do not really have anybody and nobody will really understand what I’m going through. I do not really have anybody to talk to, so I’m just gonna give into these emotions and let them take over. ” I think it’s a huge turning point for her in the season, of deciding to really shut everybody out and go on her own journey, and lean into the pain and lean into the trauma.
As per usual, this season ends on a big cliffhanger. Allison’s with Ray and Claire, and the rest of the Umbrellas no longer have their powers. Have you guys thought about what all of that will mean moving forward?
RAVER-LAMPMAN: I think, for the first time maybe, we do not know where this show could go, and that’s exciting. Yes, Allison got her happy ending, but as per most stories where people sacrifice anything and everything to get their happy ending, it usually will catch up with them in some way – the butterfly effect of messing with time and space and the universe. I think there’s gonna be some sort of repercussion for Allison. I also do not think she’s realized that she does not have power yet. Once she realizes that, she’s probably gonna assume that everybody else also does not have powers and that guilt is gonna catch up to her in a really fun way that could be cool to play around with. Hopefully, we get another season to figure that out.
Justin, have you thought about that, at all? This Ben hasn’t had to keep dealing with crazy things and apocalypses, as much as the Umbrellas have, so what do you think this is going to mean for him?
MIN: He feels like a fish out of water. It’s a moment of reckoning for him because the only thing that Sparrow Ben has ever known is his powers and the Sparrow Academy, and both of them are now gone. Who is he without these things? I think that’s what he would try to find out, if we get a Season 4.
David, it feels like Diego might be the one that’s okay with what happened. Do you feel like he could be?
CASTAÑEDA: Yeah, I think so. The taste of Stan and being a father gave him more of an identity than just being a superhero and a vigilante. Him not being able to bend knives and have these powers, he still knows how to fight. His physical attributes are still there. He might not be as strong as he once was. I do feel like it would be more of a cultural experience now for him, to just look at himself in the mirror and go, “Now that I’ve broken away from my dad’s hold, what else am I a willing to discover about myself Now, that isn’t being overshadowed by Hargreeves? ”
The Umbrella Academy is available to stream at Netflix.