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The Umbrella Academy: Where You May Have Seen the Cast Members Before
This Netflix original series brings forth a new brand of superheroes. Now, the names and faces behind the characters (and masks)
How often does the live-action version of a beloved comic meet the standards of even the comic-book purist? The answer is: not often. It’s a true feat for any storyteller who dares take on such a daunting crossover. At any rate, however, this is what The Umbrella Academy on Netflix faultlessly succeeds in.
The action-cum-adventure (with a side of comedy) not only does the Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá creation justice but entwines in its 10 episodes a certain flair that takes the storyline above and beyond viewers’ expectations.
Steve Blackman’s Netflix original series brings to life the world created by former My Chemical Romance front man Way along with artist and visionary Bá. By way of stunning production, visually satiating action scenes and slow-burning character buildups, The Umbrella Academy endears and gets audiences instantly hooked. Spot-on casting, for the sake of a crossover like this, is of utmost importance of course.
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In the hands of a different set of actors, Vanya, Luther, Klaus, Diego, Allison, Number Five and Ben just wouldn’t be the same: not nearly as endearing or impactful, if you ask us, considering the gut-wrenching back stories of Sir Reginald Hargreeves' children. But before we gaze ahead and look forward to the series’ sophomore season (clearly, we binged the first one), we pay tribute to the main cast the world will soon be seeing more of by looking at their roles pre-Umbrella Academy. Cha-Cha played by Mary J. Blige goes without saying. If her hits Family Affair and Real Love don’t jog your memory, perhaps Precious, Rock of Ages, The Help and Mudbound will do it for you. Now what about the rest?
Ellen Page as Vanya
She was once just a girl named Juno MacGuff dealing with teenage pregnancy in Diablo Cody’s 2007 hit Juno. Following the film that made Page a household name, the Canadian actress joined in on (another) superhero movie franchise, X-Men. In addition, she starred alongside Academy Award-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio in the riveting sci-fi thriller Inception and appeared in the 2016 TV documentary Gaycation. This comes after her monumental coming out in front of an audience at the Human Rights Campaign’s “Time to Thrive” conference in 2014.
Emmy Raver-Lampman as Allison
From Broadway to the World Wide Web: television and film newcomer Raver-Lampman is a seasoned musical performer who has successfully crossed over to the world of web series thanks to Netflix. Between 2015 and 2016, the multi-talented actress went on to portray Angelica Schuyler in the national tour of Hamilton. Likewise, she participated in productions of Hair and Wicked in her days as a thespian.
David Castañeda as Diego
Before life as a vigilante crime-fighter and Number Two (or Diego) in The Umbrella Academy, Castañeda took on a recurring role in the comedy-drama Jane the Virgin, where he played Rogelio’s assistant, Nicholas. Fans of the family drama series Switched at Birth, meanwhile, likely know him as free clinic supervisor Jorge Castillo.
Tom Hopper as Luther
English actor Thomas Edward Hopper is certainly no stranger to action-adventure genre. His appearances in historical action film Northmen: A Viking Saga, pirate adventure series Black Sails and fantasy-drama saga Merlin are all proof of this. The cherry on the icing? His recurring role as Dickon Tarly on Game of Thrones season seven. To add, a film appearance that’s off-brand but still dead-on: playing hot bachelor Grant Leclair in Amy Schumer’s rom-com I Feel Pretty.
Robert Sheehan as Klaus
With a spot-on character as the clan’s comic relief, Irish actor Robert Sheehan’s take on Klaus was a casting decision made in heaven. Prior to this, audiences familiar with Sheehan’s work would attest that his second most notable project is the 2009 fantasy-drama Misfits, where he played the equally charming Nathan Young. He has gone from the gift of immortality in Misfits to the gift of communicating with the dead in The Umbrella Academy.
Aidan Gallagher as Number Five
It was only a matter of time that yet another Nickelodeon star would cross over to a darker brand of comedy. Aidan Gallagher got his start on the children’s media company and grew up on the set of Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn, a sitcom that followed the lives of 11-year-old quadruplets Nicky (Gallagher), Ricky (Casey Simpson), Dicky (Mace Coronel) and Dawn Harper (Lizzy Greene). In The Umbrella Academy, Gallagher plays the missing 13-year-old in the family, Number Five.
Cameron Britton as Hazel
Lovers of true crime series know that The Umbrella Academy isn’t Cameron Britton’s first deal with a Netflix original. The 32-year-old American actor made his mark as Ed Kemper in the US web television series Mindhunter in 2017. He transformed himself for the part and gave audiences a chilling portrayal of the famous serial killer from the ‘70s.
Adam Godley as Pogo
With a career that dates back to the 1970’s, Godley’s vast array of genres in his repertoire as a television, film and theatre actor comes as no surprise. Here’s a quick refresh of his well-known contemporary projects and a trip down memory lane: For the kids, there’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. For lovers of the legal drama, there’s Suits. The Theory of Everything and the smash hit Love, Actually meanwhile, have romantic comedy fans covered.
Colm Feore as Sir Reginald Hargreeves
As the stern and sometimes cruel man who would bring together seven out of the 43 superhero children, the casting for Sir Reginald Hargreeves was absolutely crucial. Enlisted for the role is House of Cards actor Colm Feore who has appeared in three other comic-book features before: Thor, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Gotham.
Sheila McCarthy as Agnes
Canadian actress Sheila McCarthy has quite the film and television résumé. Her acting stints in the ‘90s alone are storied and impressive: with titles like Pacific Heights, Die Hard 2 and Free Willy the TV series under her belt. Life before The Umbrella Academy for McCarthy also means working alongside Lindsay Lohan in the 2004 movie Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen.
Justin H. Min as Ben
This infamous Hargreeves sibling may have had his storyline in this life cut short, but this doesn’t mean audiences are unable to get to know Ben in the series. For the most part, his character is shrouded in mystery, from the cause of his death to his otherworldly superpower. The actor who plays grown-up Ben on the other hand? A regular fixture on YouTube’s famous Wong Fu Productions.
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Hook, line and binge until you’re through. Seems like this is the best way to enjoy The Umbrella Academy.
Watch the complete first season only on Netflix, the streaming platform that allows Globe subscribers to binge on TV series, relive blockbuster movies and discover documentaries on the go. Subscription to Netflix is required.
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