Netflix's 'The Umbrella Academy' stars on Gerard Way being hands-on, the show being faithful to the comic books and more!

The Umbrella Academy

Action, Superhero
Netflix
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An adaptation of the popular and award-winning comic book series of the same name created and written by My Chemical Romance lead singer Gerard Way, The Umbrella Academy is a new series developed by Steve Blackman for Netflix. It follows a dysfunctional family of superheroes who come together to solve the mystery following their father's death, a threat of a global apocalypse and more. Watch the trailer below:

At a roundtable interview at the Netflix See What's Next Asia event in Singapore, stars David Castañeda and Robert Sheehan who play Diego and Klaus, respectively, shares if the series was faithful to the comic books, improvs and more! Read the exclusive interview below:

On how hands-on Gerard Way was in creating the series

David Castañeda: He was just like the godfather. He just kind of gave the blessing and was there at the beginning of production and kind of gave the nod of "okay, you guys know where this is going and, and I trust you guys."

Robert Sheehan: He was delightfully enthusiastic after he'd seen us do the read through as well. He was like "Great! Really good!" and that was just like catnip to us, thank God you approve!

On the series being faithful to the comic books 

Robert Sheehan: I think it has the reach to stick to the comic books and to have surprises. The strength of the graphic novel is in its tone – tonally it's really strong. With ten hours of television, it has a vast amount of storyline in there so the show deviates a lot from the source material because it has to be its own thing. 

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Robert Sheehan as Klaus
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David Castañeda as Diego

On improvisations on the show

Robert Sheehan: They were very good about that. I've done a few things in the past, where they can be quite worried when you start drifting off the reservation because they're following a schedule, and the schedule is quite rigorous. Often they can see, improvisation is worrying because it means they're adding time to their day but Netflix has loads of money. *laughs* So they didn't worry too much about it!

And also, they wanted an actor to bring loads and loads of chaos to play Klaus so I was coming in order to fully loaded with improvisations and trying to knock all my fellow actors off-kilter as most days as much as much as I could. So they were really open to that and I'm proud to say a few of my improv lines snuck into the first episode. I was very pleased when I saw that!

But you know, that said, within the context of the scripts, it was 100% there. It wasn't as if we were having to fill in the gaps or anything, we were just improvising on top, adding a bit of icing.

David Castañeda: There had to be some kind of hierarchy when there was going to be a freedom to change a line and stuff. But the biggest thing was, there was freedom to propose something where sometimes you feel like you can't and Steve was very good about that. 

On having only one power

Robert Sheehan: For my feet to look like this – that would be pretty good, to have disco ball feet. Yeah, I'm going to go with that. 

David Castañeda: I'd like my power to be world peace.

Robert Sheehan: That's boring! *laughs*

On playing another character from the show

Robert Sheehan: Reginald Hargreaves!

David Castañeda: Hazel and Cha-Cha would be fun because from the comic books they are just hilarious.

Robert Sheehan: They're so unhinged. Yeah, I might play Hazel. That would be a good one!​

On describing the show in three words

David Castañeda: Family. Dysfunctional. Super?

Robert Sheehan: Uh, yeah. What's the opposite of super? Maybe anti-hero dysfunction? Sounds like one of Gerard's failed bands before My Chemical Romance.

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The Umbrella Academy will be released globally on Netflix on February 15. Stream it here.

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Steve Blackman
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Netflix
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