7 Questions with… The Umbrella Academy’s Robert Sheehan and Tom Hopper: ‘The show’s a fun ride - it’s here to remind everyone that we’re all just kids in grown-up suits!’

The Umbrella Academy’s Robert Sheehan (Klaus) and Tom Hopper (Luther) answer seven burning questions as it returns for its highly-anticipated second season on Netflix.

By Sophia Moir Published: 27 July 2020 - 12.01am
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The hype around the upcoming second season of The Umbrella Academy on Netflix is very much real.

Every time a new poster or trailer drops to promote season 2, fans eagerly dissect it in minute detail to discover Easter eggs about what to expect.

So what CAN fans expect? Well, a time jump has scattered the siblings in and around 1960s Dallas, Texas - with some of the family building new lives and moving on from Vanya’s 2019 apocalypse, and others landing smack bang in a nuclear doomsday. 

Two of those siblings who have been scattered in time are Klaus (Robert 'Rob' Sheehan - Misfits, Love/Hate) and Luther (Tom Hopper - Merlin, Game of Thrones).

Speaking to BT.com and other journalists from their homes in lockdown, Rob and Tom reveal what we can expect from their characters this season, what they make of the show’s soundtrack, and how Klaus and Luther would have survived in lockdown… 

1. This season deviates plot-wise from the comic book source material. Did you have an idea of what might happen to your character in season 2?

Robert Sheehan: After the first season, myself and Steve [Blackman, The Umbrella Academy showrunner] corresponded a fair bit. I suppose I can't be too passive about it, because it sort of diminishes the meaning of the creative thing if you're like ‘yeah whatever you think’, you know? It’s less fun that way. So we were throwing ideas back and forth, and it eventuated for Klaus in how the show evolved in the second season. I had a fairly clear idea of how things were going for him.

The Umbrella Academy Klaus Netflix

Tom Hopper: Steve is very collaborative and we had conversations about where Luther was by the end of this season and there’s certain elements of redemption, he needed to right some wrongs in the second season. He’s also in a fairly dark place at the end of the first season, but he’s dealing with it in his own way. 

He’s a bit tougher this season I think, he’s come down from the moon, he’s dropped some weight, he’s looking trim, working out, fighting for a living and he’s found a way to channel that aggression that he’s had about his dad. Me and Steve wanted to make sure that those things came through, that he’s dealing with it, he’s not just moping around. You always have to feel that your character’s moving on, that they are dealing with the issues from previous seasons and addressing them, otherwise it doesn’t move and it’s stagnant. 

2. The show’s billed as a superhero series, but the things that the family are trying to stop are also caused by them. Are they heroes or villains, or a bit of both?

Tom: I think we [the family] are always working for good, I think the problem is they don’t know how many problems they cause by trying to do good. Their intentions are always right. Diego for instance is so obsessed with getting to the bottom of things that he ends up causing an absolute sh*t show on the way. 

It’s kind of the same with Five [Aidan Gallagher] really, and then the rest of us get dragged into it, and the butterfly effect of it ends up being huge. We devalue our own importance and forget that we have as much influence as we do. We think these things have no impact, but of course we do to the point where we might end the world. 

The Umbrella Academy season 2 Netflix

Rob: Good, bad, and all that, I don’t think Klaus takes moral positions on things. I think he probably has a conscience and it’s probably given him time to grow off the drugs and things, he quite rightly has opinions on good and bad, and how they’re separate, although they’re probably not. There’s a lovely quote that goes ‘when beauty is perceived, ugliness is created’. I think Klaus believes that to be true. You might have a mission, but it depends on whose view it is on whether it’s good or bad.  

“Netflix can’t get our show out quickly enough because I think it’s about being a kid again, all the apocalyptic stuff is just the structure to tick it along”
- Robert Sheehan (Klaus)

3. When you’re doing a scene that’s set to a great song, do you have that in your mind when you’re filming it or is that added later?

Tom: It’s a bit of both. Sometimes it’s written in the script so we know, but sometimes that song changes in the final edit - very often for the better actually. But Steve Blackman, who’s the guy that chooses the music, he’s got such a good ear for the tone of what the song needs to be, he understands how music can affect the visual of a scene, the tone of a scene, he just gets it and he really needs to be commended on that because it's something unique with our show with how music influences a scene. There’s a brilliant moment with the Backstreet Boys this season, which is killer. 

Rob: There was one Iggy and the Stooges track which was supposed to be episode 3 of season 1 when Hazel [Cameron Britton] and Cha-Cha [Mary J. Blige] show up at the Academy, and Klaus is having a bath and he’s got it on his headphones, dancing down the corridor while all the shooting’s going on behind him. There’s Gonna be a Showdown was the track I think. But then it changed into something else. It helps you to have [the song] on, it get the old juices flowing.

4. What can we expect from your characters’ romantic relationships in season 2?

Rob: Something illegal! I would like to keep some things back for my character, I’d like people to be surprised when they watch my story back.

Tom: There’s some nice Easter eggs of both of what our characters are going through. Luther’s kind of forgotten about that side of things really, it’s not really on his radar, but ultimately he's never stopped yearning… between Allison [Emmy Raver-Lampman] and Luther, their relationship is far, far deeper than a physical attraction, in fact the last thing is probably the physical attraction. They have just a deep relationship from kids all the way up to being adults, but Luther will never forget about Allison, so that’s a journey that he’s got to go through this season when they’re finally together and he discovers where she’s at in her life.

The Umbrella Academy season 2 Luther Netflix

5. The creators of the graphic novels are on chapter 3 now. Where does that leave you for season 3 - would you like to do another series?

Rob: I’d love to do one. I’m always hatching pipe dreams and sending emails to Steve, and that’s the fun of it. 

Tom: Yeah, we love hanging around in this world, it’s a lot of fun and we all love working together. It’s quite a gift to have the kind of show we have, we have a showrunner who’s very collaborative, it’s very freeing as an actor so yes, absolutely. It’s great to have that source material to influence where we could go.

As you’ve seen from the first two seasons, there are influences from the comic absolutely, but it also allows us to deviate from that structure. I love seeing where Steve Blackman's mind can go past the comics, how broad he can take it, and what he can put these characters through. He can put all our characters through hell and back in a unique way. I’d love to go back and do a bunch more of these. 

The Umbrella Academy season 2 Netflix

Rob: The graphic novels are pure comic escapism. There’s oodles of time travel and their powers, and it’s very unearthly, whereas I think Steve's institution is to always bring it back and make the journeys more human.

Tom: You’re always talking about future seasons, from season 1 you’re talking about where the show could go. There’s an element of assuming the story is going to continue until you’re told that it’s not going to continue. You’re always keeping it alive in your head as an actor, because you don’t kill off a character in your head until you’re told that it’s done. You’re always thinking about where it could go. You’re just trying to keep it alive until the plug is pulled . 

“You’re always talking about future seasons. There’s an element of assuming the story is going to continue until you’re told that it’s not”
- Tom Hopper (Luther)

6. The apocalypse is a big plot point in this series, and the world has become more apocalyptic lately. Was there any worry about putting this out there as entertainment in 2020? 

Rob: Netflix can’t get our show out quickly enough because I think the show, with the dancing and the playful themes in it, it’s about being a kid again, all the apocalyptic stuff is just the structure to tick it along. The show itself is very playful tonally. It’s reminding everyone that we are just kids in grown-up suits. 

Tom: Ultimately it’s entertainment, and it’s fun. There’s certain themes we’re dealing with that are very prominent and they’re dealt with appropriately and sensitively, and respectfully, but aside from that it’s a fun ride, our show, it’s not meant to be taken too seriously for the most part, it’s supposed to be enjoyed for what it is. Really it’s about dancing about in your room and not caring!

The Umbrella Academy season 2 Luther Netflix

7. How do you reckon your characters would have survived lockdown?

Tom: Well I think Luther is well practised in it to be honest, being up on the moon for four years.

Rob: Klaus wouldn’t have done well in lockdown, he’d be breaking protocols left, right and centre. 

Tom: Klaus would have been breaking the two metre rule!

The Umbrella Academy season 2 launches Friday, July 31 on Netflix.