By Anne Brodie
Season Two of Netflix’ The Umbrella Academy debuts this week and fans couldn’t be more excited. I’ve had a peek and will say this season exceeds the excellent first series oin its scope and imagination. OK so Sir Reginald Hargreeves is dead and the superhero children he adopted must keep the world rotating. Apocalypses come and go, but they remain, fighting the fight and find themselves hurled into Dallas Texas, separately, circa 1960. They must find each other to fulfill their mission and prevent disaster. Allison, played by Emmy Raver-Lampman, now married, helps lead the nascent Civil Rights movement, and finds her calling. I spoke with Raven-Lampman about the incredible timing of the new storyline, from her home in Los Angeles.
The show’s recreation of the 1960 Greensboro’s diner sit-ins, in which John Lewis took part, is absolutely stunning. The timing is eerie. I can’t imagine what you’re feeling.
I’m is a little shell shocked that we lost him. His legacy is unbelievable and undeniable and if anything, his life cannot be in vain. I’ve been having this conversation a lot around the release of the show. The 60s was not that long ago and the fight today for George Floyd and BLM is at a global level. People died and he lived through that; he lived struggles and that was in his lifetime. It is now in the hands of the next gen to continue his fight and deliver his message and every single person on the front lines, and dedicated their lives to change and progression and a better world for all marginalized people. It’s profoundly heartbreaking. I have been looking at images and videos and the work he did. I think the picture that stuck with me, he’s wearing a mask, standing on the Black Lives Matter street in Washington, in front of the White House, so how can you say that we’re not still fighting that fight? The physical incidences of that even though the situation was so long, we’re still fighting that fight with so much more to do. John Lewis marched with Dr. King.
Allison finds herself making history in the racist deep south against incredible obstacles and danger. The restraint in your performance is perfect, dignity and honour, rising above fear.
It’s about us. When the decision was made to cast a black woman as Allison, having representation in a platform in a show people would love and watch is one thing, and the second season in the 60s its undeniable, the topic not covered, because I was cast in the show, I was honoured and nervous to take on such a monumental moment, to take on our history in the country wanting to be respectful for people like John Lewis and Ruby Bridges the first Black girl integrated into the white school system in 1965. People that lived through and were on the front lines ane still alive. Most Americans know a little bit or a tonne about the movement, but we are not taught it. Netflix, being the platform it is, having hundreds of millions of people watching around the world, they have the opportunity to learn something they had no idea about, something they had never seen before, to further their education, about the civil rights movement and LGBTQ movement and other bold topics we cover this season. This representation such an opportunity, that’s small part of it. There are so many young people watching the show and young adults watch with their parents. It opens a window of communication about the topics we’re tackling. I’m hopeful for this conversation, it’s exciting to know you are getting the message conveyed, with comedy and fantastical elements and the jokes but you’re getting scenes and messages and the struggles and hardships that are still so relevant. Everything happening in 2020 is only a further example of that. It’s so timely.
The group plans to demonstrate when JFK comes to Dallas, get the world’s attention. Its brilliant the way the series brings in history and shapes the show around events, offering us an alternate view.
Allison’s very much of the moment in her appearance. Those wonderful suits and dresses tailored and feminine. A different time.
Christian Hargadon our costume designer is so brilliant, and all the cast clothes were perfectly tailored and designed and custom made. It was extravagant stuff and being the sixties was so perfect because he wears an ascot! Right at his comfort level. Many of the outfits I wore were vintage. We rented and bought items from all over the country and we went to a warehouse in Toronto.
Did wearing those clothes that seem so formal now change the way you held yourself and felt?
Oh, for sure, but the fabrics of the time are not ideal. I’m used to wearing 5” stilettos or bare feet and I had to wear one-inch kitten heels which was so bizarre for me. The purses and jackets were amazing, and every outfit had a belt, and everything was perfectly starched.
Your appearance is so different from Season One. Luther looks at Allison and he’s so struck by the change. His face is lit.
I think that Allison fully accepted that she is now in the sixties; I love the montage where Allison is trying to figure out her new hairstyle. Tom Hopper wanted to address the fact that I had new hairstyles this season and asked if he could reference it and they said sure. He’s bashful, just like Luther. Luther has his challenges though, and we don’t know if any of the others are alive. They are survivors and Allison lands on her feet and hopes the rest of the family did too. When they finally come face to face, he’s meets Raymond Chestnut, my character’s husband. He’s embarrassed and she tells him she’s sorry she didn’t tell him and that she loves him like a brother and their special connection. He is so endearing.
This season is set in Dallas, but did you shoot there or again in Toronto?
We shot in Toronto but there were a couple of scenes only with David that had to be short in Dallas. In Toronto we rented out a whole street, a main street and every storefront on the entire street for seven months, There were new facades on every storefront, there was a sixties butcher shop and behind it was a real hamburger diner.
How did you keep the shoot secret?
We were in Toronto and there are always a lot of things shot there. People knew we were shooting but not necessarily where. It looked like we were making some kind of weird sixties film, and people didn’t know it was our show. We got away with it.
The Umbrella Academy Season Two debuts July 31st on Netflix