Tom Hopper has appeared on such shows as Doctor Who, Black Sails, and Game of Thrones. Now he plays Luther Hargreeves on Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy, an offbeat superhero drama based on the comic book series of the same name. Emmy Raver-Lampman plays Allison Hargreeves, a celebrity that can manipulate reality by lying. David Castaneda plays Diego Hargreeves, a gifted knife thrower and the “rebel” in the family.
Screen Rant: The show's amazing. Your chemistry is phenomenal. I only read the first graphic novel, but I was like, ‘How is this going to get adapted? This is crazy.’ But it works and it's amazing. So, your character, Tom, is the designated strong man, true leader, type of hero. What do you think audiences will be most surprised to discover about Luther?
Tom Hopper: I think, because like you said, on paper he’s that sort of true leader, big guy, you might think he's all kind of badass and stuff. What's interesting about Luther is he has this outer shell of looking that way, but he's quite a sensitive guy and he's quite damaged and has this history that he's dealing with. And also, the pressure of being the leader of the Academy. So, he's far deeper than meets the eye.
Screen Rant: Emmy, Allison has this unique power to manipulate people and reality by lying. Explain that power to me.
Emmy Raver-Lampman: I like to say that she has the power to influence and the ability to alter reality and change people's decision making. Because I think it's seemingly a little gentler than manipulative. But that is the spot on, because she has for sure used it to manipulate the hell out of people, including her own child and her own ex-husband. So, it definitely has gotten her not in a great spot in her personal life. She can kind of by saying, ‘I heard a rumor,’ can get people to do whatever the hell she wants. Which is, that is a very, no one, that is way too much power for one person to have. That's what's kind of insane. And I didn't even realize it until we're like halfway through filming and I was like, ‘Wow.’
Tom Hopper: Like her power is so strong. And I was all the way through the season, I was like, ‘I wanted to use it so badly.’ She could just change everything. Which is actually a really interesting take on the producer's part to stop me from using it. Because she could affect, just solved everything. Straight off the bat. So, taking it away from her, it makes it far more interesting. And the way they did is great writing.
Screen Rant: David, you play Diego, known as the Kraken. Tell us a bit about how your character gets that moniker.
David Castaneda: Because he's able to breathe under water. So, he actually can have like actual full on fights underneath the sea. Which is based on the kraken sea monster.
Screen Rant: If you weren't your characters, based on your personalities, which character do you most relate with and who would you be?
Tom Hopper: Based on your own personality? I think I’d still be Luther.
Emmy Raver-Lampman: Well, yeah, I was like, I think I'd be Allison. But I think, who I want to be. I think having Five’s power. Just to be able to walk around and be a little shit head all the time [LAUGHS]. Just take whatever I want, do whatever I want. Like, ‘F- You.’
Tom Hopper: Yeah. If we talk about who we want to be, I think Five would be the most fun.
Emmy Raver-Lampman: He’s got the least amount of F, ***’s [LAUGHS].
Screen Rant: How about you David?
David Castaneda: I think Vanya is actually kind of cool. You know what I mean? The power of sound and being able to move things. I that’s, I’d like that.
Screen Rant: There's a great scene in one of the episodes with dance routines. Talk to me about how much prep went into that stuff. It feels like you'd be pretty natural at this for some odd reason, coming from the stage.
Emmy Raver-Lampman: You know who was also pretty natural at it, this guy. Our big scene in episode six, we, I think collectively, spent maybe seven hours of rehearsal, like over four days, like an hour here, an hour there. And then on the day, we only did it, ran the whole thing, five times. It was like so quick and he was a pro. Such a good dance partner.
Tom Hopper: I just moved where I was told.
Emmy Raver-Lampman: But you’re good at like stunts and fight choreography, and so the line of dance choreography is very similar.
Tom Hopper: I was amazed how similar it kind of is, in a way. Because, like we were talking about before, you have a fight sequence, you have to be move-for-move accurate or someone’s going to get hurt. Yeah, you’re throwing punches--
Emmy Raver-Lampman: There’s more [unintelligible] too.
Tom Hopper: Yeah. And the lifting it’s a similar kind of thing. But the rhythm is a whole other thing. It's very different. But I loved it. To have that experience while making a TV show is amazing. I was like, dude, this is so cool. It was great.
Screen Rant: Luther also has a unique body. And how faithful to the comics will his physiology be?
Tom Hopper: It depends on spoilers really. He’s obviously larger than the average human. So there is something about Luther that for sure is different. How he got that body and everything is something that remains to be seen. People will obviously learn that through the show.
Screen Rant: What character does Alison connect with the most?
Emmy Raver-Lampman: I think naturally, and history has proven that it is Luther. But I think she is trying to salvage and find a relationship with her sister, with Vanya, because that just never existed when they were kids. And so when that starts to happen, I think there is a route to a really good sisterhood there as well. But first and foremost, it's always Luther. Yeah. They just have like an unspoken understanding of most situations that they are all in. And of each other's, just like, spirits, I think.
Tom Hopper: Yeah.
Screen Rant: David, Diego's a master of knives. Can you talk to me about the training for this?
David Castaneda: Yeah. I mean, I think we trained with rubber knives first just to be safe and was able to make some holes on the wall.
Screen Rant: How good did you get to throwing them?
David Castaneda: Decent, I'd say decent. Not enough for them to let me throw a real one. By no means. I would actually be like, ‘All right, cool. Am I throwing this? Am I not throwing this? Who's going to be in the frame?’ So they let me throw a few, but never any at anyone actually in front. They were actually real knives, the ones that I carry on the show. So, it was actually kind of dangerous to even pull one out and how to be aware of who was around at all times.
Screen Rant: Being on Netflix, it's going to be a 10-part series. Is it different shooting this than it is like any other kind of traditional television would be? Because I was told that you guys would shoot certain things, for certain episodes, after the fact, and before the fact. So, was it different at all like that?
Emmy Raver-Lampman: I think the only things that would be sometimes out of sequence was when we would have to do a reshoot. Because we shot in blocks. So we shot the pilot and then we shot two and three, four-five, six-seven, eight-nine, and then 10. So within those blocks, if we were shooting two and three together, sometimes we'd shoot the last scene of episode three first. So within the blocks they would be a little jumbled, but not like within the whole season.
Tom Hopper: But it still runs like a 10-hour movie.
David Castaneda: Yeah, yeah, definitely.
Tom Hopper: I always say, if you watch it in threes, it works.
Emmy Raver-Lampman: Yeah. Episodes one through three work really well together. Four, five, six.
Tom Hopper: Four, five, six, and seven.
David Castaneda: And what was really beautiful about the show is the time and care, right? So when you're shooting a TV show, sometimes it's more about like, the blocking, it's usually, it's really fast. ‘Walk here, walk here, walk and talk here.’ But when it was all of us, because it's so character driven, it was much more about what internally, what's going on within us. And see how that scene can play out. So we would play. And so, there was a lot of freedom in that sense compared to something that you don't, [snaps fingers] ‘Get it, get it out, what's next? Set up the next shot.’ There was a lot of time before they actually said, ‘Okay, let's shoot the master.’
Screen Rant: You guys have all great chemistry together. Like really, it's flawless. You guys are great. So are there any fun stories on set? And can share about bonding and how that chemistry was kind of created?
Tom Hopper: It was weird for us. Because we had the rehearsal process for about a week and a half, two weeks before we even started shooting. And a lot of that was in the room, talking over the script. But a lot of it was just goofing around and getting to know each other. Like these weird little dynamics that started to occur. And I think, once we go into the group scenes, we just started shooting, we started to understand what this group was and how everyone’s playing their role. And kind of go, ‘Okay, that's why these have this thing.’ You see what that is. Why we have this connection. And you know what? We were very fortunate of how organic it was. We didn't need to do too much. The biggest thing, more than anything, was everyone was so open and wanted it to be good. Everyone gave so much to the show, making sure that we gave 110 percent, all the time. Like everyone just brought their A game every single day to set.
And that's all it comes down to really. Is that you’re just open, like a sponge, just soak everything up. And it shows, I think.
Screen Rant: In the comics, your character gets to experience a fame, romance, and tragedy. How fun has it been to play that on the show? And will that follow her with her character arc?
Emmy Raver-Lampman: Yeah. Firstly, it was very intimidating to, as Emmy, be an actress who's never set foot in front of a camera to then portray a famous actress [LAUGHS}. I was like, ‘Well, if I don't figure that out, that might be really problematic.’ But that Allison arc through the whole season was really, really enticing. And she's kind of got this separate situation outside of the family with her ex and her daughter. And then she's got her relationship with Luther that she's trying to figure out. And she's also trying to salvage and find a relationship with her sister, on top of she's also going through, she's not using her powers right now because she's trying to, you know, self-care and heal herself and kind of learn from her mistakes in the past. And she's dealing with a lot of guilt and grief. So, it's been really a rollercoaster. And then, on top of that, she's kicking ass and taking names and doing it all in stilettos. And so, it was just like, it was ridiculous. But in the best way. I have never been asked to pull from so many corners of what I didn't even know I could do as an artist. So…
Screen Rant: Well, you guys did a great. It's an amazing show. I hope everyone can see it.