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Exclusive: Emmy Raver-Lampman Talks Netflix’s ‘The Umbrella Academy’

Raver-Lampman was part of Hamilton’s original Ensemble on Broadway and star of the 1st National Touring Company

Currently streaming on Netflix is the comic book adaptation of The Umbrella Academy, which stars Ellen Page, Mary J. Blige, Cameron Britton, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Colm Feore, Adam Godley, John Magaro, Ashley Madekwe, and Kate Walsh.

On the same day in 1989, forty-three infants are inexplicably born to random, unconnected women who showed no signs of pregnancy the day before. Seven are adopted by Sir Reginald Hargreeves, a billionaire industrialist, who creates The Umbrella Academy and prepares his “children” to save the world. But not everything went according to plan. In their teenage years, the family fractured and the team disbanded.

Now, the six surviving thirty-something members reunite upon the news of Hargreeves’ passing.Luther (Hopper), Diego (Castañeda), Allison (Raver-Lampman), Vanya (Page), Klaus (Sheehan) and Number Five (Gallagher) work together to solve a mystery surrounding their father’s death. But the estranged family once again begins to come apart due to their divergent personalities and abilities, not to mention the imminent threat of a global apocalypse.

The Umbrella Academy is based on the popular, Eisner award-winning comics and graphic novels created and written by Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance), illustrated by Gabriel Bá, and published by Dark Horse Comics. The live-action series is produced by Universal Cable Productions for Netflix.

For Raver-Lampman, this is her first television role. Allison is described as a beautiful, elegant, and a formerly world-famous movie star who possesses the power of suggestion – anything she says aloud comes to pass. Her life seems perfect from the outside, but her ability has undermined every relationship she’s ever had. With her career on the decline and her marriage in shambles, she refuses to use her power as she seeks a more authentic life.

Prior to the series, Raver-Lampman was the star of the 1st National Touring Company of Tony-winning Hamilton. After being a part of the original Ensemble on Broadway, Emmy was promoted to the role of Angelica Schuyler for the West Coast run.

Blackfilm,com spoke exclusively with Raver-Lampman on her role and working on this series.

How did the role come about for you?

Emmy Raver-Lampman: I actually sent in a self-tape. I was asked to send in a self-tape almost two summers ago and I read the pilot and fell in love with it. Pilot season can be grueling for an actor and you have to read a lot of scripts. Some are really good and some are not so good. This just rose above the rest for me. I was so intrigued by the family dynamic. i loved the idea that it was a superhero show, but that it was a secondary part. So I sent in a self-tape and four and a half months went by and I heard nothing. I assumed that I didn’t get it. Then out of nowhere my manager called and was like, “Hey, remember the Umbrella Academy pilot that you sent in a self-tape for months ago? Well, they want to test you.” So I was like, “Ok.” Then she’s like, “Tomorrow.” I went in to Universal and did a live test and then I found out I booked it. That was pretty much it. 

What’s your feeling on superhero films/ series/ comic books? Had you read The Umbrella Academy comics beforehand?

Emmy Raver-Lampman: This is sort of introducing me to the world of graphic novels, comic books and comic-cons. I love the Marvel films and Deadpool and the TV shows. There are so many out there. After I read the pilot I ordered the comics and I read them. I read them again before we started shooting. Going to Comic-Con with this in New York and Brazil, it was such a crazy experience, but such a wonderful world to dive head first in.

How would you describe your character and will there a big difference from the comic and the series?

Emmy Raver-Lampman: Allison in the graphic novel, feels to me, is a hard shelled, closed off person and we don’t know a lot of her backstory from the husband and daughter situation. I think we find out, in the pilot episode, that she’s in the middle of a divorce and in a terrible custody battle with her ex. She, like everyone else, comes back to the Umbrella Academy for their father’s funeral after 12 years.

In being there, she realizes how uncomfortable it it to be home and how isolated she feels there; but also realizes that she has no where else to go. The Umbrella Academy is the only family she has left. Her mission for this season is to mend these broken bridges and these broken relationships that she feels she did not take care of when she was growing up. She also wants to try that sisterhood that she has with Vanya that they never had as kids; partly because of their father and partly because she like being the only girl with powers and running around with the boys. This softer side of Allison is the beating heart of the Umbrella Academy.

Are there any similarities between the two of you?

Emmy Raver-Lampman: I think exactly that. I don’t have any kids but I love children and the need for all to be happy. She’s very opinionated and I definitely am the same way.

How was working with the cast? Is it just work after production wrapped or is their a friendship afterwards?

Emmy Raver-Lampman: Tom (Hopper) is now one of my best friends. We talk almost every other day if not every day, event though he lives in London and raising two babies and life is crazy. We were both a little nervous because the Allison-Luther plot line is so important and there is such a history there. We didn’t do any chemistry reads each of us thought and hoped that we would get along because our characters are stuck with each other for a full season and hopefully more, We instantly hit it off so well.

Some of my best days on set is when the all cast was on set together. Everyone has their own storyline because it’s an ensemble show, but when we all come back together and spend 12 hours in a living room talking about whatever the scene about, it was great. I have never laughed so hard. Ellen and I have become really close. We all hung out a ton in Toronto going out to brunches and karaoke and seeing movies and sporting events. We just really got along great and still do.

With this new series, are you putting your Broadway days behind for now or are you coming back soon?

Emmy Raver-Lampman: For the better half of a decade, I was working in New York on Broadway. I love it. That’s where my roots are. It started with singing with me so I will always want and have a desire to act and sing at the same time. It’s a thing that I love. Right now, I’m really enjoying this new medium and trying to figure it out and it’s challenging and scary, which is why I’m enticed by it and love it so much. If there is a show at the right time and has the right message, absolutely. If I go back anytime soon, i really would love to do a play. I’ve never done a play. 

With so many TV shows, including on Netflix, what’s a good reason for folks to tune into The Umbrella Academy?

Emmy Raver-Lampman: For me and I watch a lot of television, the Umbrella Academy is unlike something I’ve ever seen, but I also think that there is truly something for everyone because it’s such an ensemble show. These six siblings are so different and then you have Hazel and Cha Cha and Leonard Peabody. There’s something for everyone to find enticing and intriguing with the show. The way the writers thought out and framed these episodes, that you want to see the next one and you get more information on each character as the episodes moves. Nothing too much or too soon. There’s crazy action sequences and there’s romance. The music alone and the soundtrack for the show is outrageous. It’s funny and violence at moments and time-travel and so much drama. There’s a family trying to recover and heal wounds from a very mentally abusive father and a terrible upbringing. These individuals are coping with the way they were brought up, their past.

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