Interview: The Umbrella Academy Creator Steve Blackman on His Dysfunctional Super Family Show (With a Body Count) – Awards Radar | Region & Cash

If you continued to sleep That Umbrella Academy because you are tired of the superhero stories, you can be forgiven. You will also make a big mistake. Huge mistake. The Umbrella Academy is one of the funniest, wackiest and most consumable shows currently streaming. What sets it apart from a crowded pack is the ensemble. Based on the graphic novel series written by Gerhard way and illustrated by Gabriel Ba, The Umbrella Academy follows the adventures of a dysfunctional family of superheroes.

“I think the logline I used is: a dysfunctional family show with a body count,” she says Steve Blackmanthe creator, producer, writer and showrunner for The Umbrella Academy. “I really felt like there was one Wes Anderson story somewhere inside. And I’m not hiding that – a lot of the show is a tribute to him. So I got off the phone with Gerard Way and his brain is hilarious. He had wonderful ideas. And he was kind enough to give me creative freedom to do something that wasn’t a photocopy of the graphic novel, which would have been very difficult to adapt. It’s very non-linear. He said, ‘You’re doing something great with it.’ I said thank you.’ and it’s been a delightful journey with this guy ever since.”

(You can download the complete The ‘Verse! Interview with Steve Blackman below.)

Wes meets Anderson John Woo would be an appropriate description The Umbrella Academy. It’s funny, it’s quirky, it’s sad, it’s heartfelt and it kicks a bunch of ass. One of the joys of the show is watching the phenomenal cast find themselves in various situations where they must learn to trust and rely on one another, even after a childhood filled with pain and betrayal.

“One thing these kids have in common is a shared trauma, which is being raised by a crazy, dysfunctional alien father (Reginal Hargreeves played by Colm Feore) who used them as instruments and really didn’t love them, or maybe he loved them in his own way. But it is this shared trauma that brings them together. I love putting different groups together. I mean, Robert Shehan, who plays Klaus, is pretty good with everyone. But I think he’s quite adorable when he’s around Aidan Gallagher Who plays Five, they’re a fun combo. I also think Rita Arya who plays purple is great at playing against aiden and also against her and David Castaneda plays Diego are hilarious together. I mean, just the weird, weird chemistry that their love story is about is my favorite scene to write. I just think they’re just great scenes. Have fun. And the actors will do whatever I write. They’re just great, no-nonsense actors.”

The setting naturally increases the drama. No matter how hard they try, the The Umbrella Academy seems to be the cause and solution of the end of the world.

“When you know the end is near and you have to stop this thing from happening, the storyline on that front becomes very easy. The interpersonal actions are really complicated. And when you then get into time travel, that’s when the show really gets turned on its head. We have wonderful writers in space and we argue endlessly about how the time travel things would work. And we have all these charts with circles and squares and things that we hope will work, but it’s a deceptively simple looking show that’s very difficult to write because we’re serving 10 characters in 45 minutes an episode. I set us up for pain in the first season by saying that each episode lasts a day. So each season lasted only 10 days. And I stayed true to that conceit.”

Even the most casual viewer can’t help but be impressed by the selection of pin drops. They Might Be Giants, Tiffany, The Kinks, Joe Tex, the music is an eclectic mix of old and new that simultaneously elevates and complements the material.

“Music is a big part of my life. So I listen to music all the time. And music sometimes inspires me to write. And sometimes a song inspires my writing and works both ways. So I make a song list before I even write the scripts of songs just love. And sometimes when I listen to the song, I think I think, you know, that would go well with the scene that I’m trying to put together. But I also encourage my writers, we write the music in the scripts. It’s not like we’re doing a show like most shows, they go in the post and say let’s put a song in here. They’re written into the scripts in advance because I like using the music and I like that the actors sometimes hear the song that’s going to be played later [a scene]. And then I was referred to a really great music music supervisor Jen Malone who, if something doesn’t work, she says, “Try it,” and she’s very unconventional. But you know, we’re very proud of the songs we’ve included on the show over the years, and you know, we’ve re-released a few great songs that had long fallen off the list. Like, “I think we’re on our own now.” And suddenly Tiffany’s was having a really good Christmas this year because it topped Spotify for about three weeks.”

Season 3 had the difficult task of introducing Elliot Page’s move from Vanya to Viktor. What could have been a story that has a shoe horn or false fist ends up being a wonderful introduction for anyone whose family member or loved one is going through a transition.

“I have become very close to Elliot over the years and I am so happy to be able to support his journey as he continues. But the truth is, the scripts were done before he called me and said, “Listen, I’m converting.” I didn’t know what to say because nobody had called me and told me that, so I guess I just sat there and said, ‘What do I congratulate you on? Say Mazel Tov? I wasn’t sure what. To be fair to Elliot, he said to me, “Write the transition, don’t write the transition. It depends on you. I trust you to do what you want.’ Ultimately I decided to do it, but I had a lot of help. I went to GLAAD. And I was happy about a wonderful help from the community. And then they put me in touch with a trans writer named Thomas McBee, who worked with me because the truth is I mean I could try to write it but I didn’t know the story. I didn’t know what this trip was. Thomas and I worked together to go back and find a way, we had to do it early in the season, we had to make the transition. And I made the decision. I told him Netflix wouldn’t hang a lantern on it, it would happen. This family would accept and we will tell a positive story about it. And we did. So I wanted it to be very elegant, like we did at the same time, to be honest and real. I think it’s a lesson that there are families that are accepting and non-judgmental and that you can share your feelings with people you love. And I love how they listen. “My name is Victor now” on the show. And they say ‘Hi, Victor’. And then they just start arguing with them again. I mean when we shot that scene there were a lot of tears off camera because it was just being honest. And you could see Victor’s shoulders sag a bit, like the weight of the world had fallen off his back. And both the actor and the character, and it was just wonderful to watch.

At its core, this show is about family, and you know that, families can accept who we are. So being trans is nothing to be afraid of. So that’s the story we wanted to tell. And I’m very glad that for the most part the fans really loved it. We have a few people who didn’t appreciate it, but they were in the minority, the vast majority thought it would be a good story to tell. And it was well done. I’m very proud of that. And I’m proud of you Thomas and Elliot for letting me be a part of this kind of journey in this world. So it was a great thing to do. I’m glad we made it.”

The show is not static and neither are the heroes. Not only do the characters grow emotionally through each season, they also learn new ways to use their powers.

“We knew from the start that their powers would evolve each season, it was kind of an idea that it was kind of a parallel as they got to know themselves better. You know, Gerard, you know, has other places that the powers are going to go, but, you know, we as a writers room every year, so let’s what we can do to kind of change her power, change her power a little bit a little. And we’ve really started to expand that. I think you’re going to see a lot more of that than next season.”

If there is a next season. The Umbrella Academy Season 4 hasn’t been announced yet, although the latest season has been in Netflix’s top ten since debuting at #1 over a month ago. So hurry up and watch or watch the video again so we can convince the Netflix gods to grab it for a fourth and final season. Steve Blackman promises to answer some of the show’s biggest unsolved questions.

All three seasons of The Umbrella Academy stream exclusively on Netflix.

For more interviews with the people who bring your favorite movie universes, superheroes, and sci-fi/fantasy entertainment to life, be sure to subscribe to The ‘Verse!)

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