'The Umbrella Academy' star Aidan Gallagher talks comic books and his character in Netflix's superhero series
In an EXCLUSIVE interview with MEAWW, 'The Umbrella Academy' star talks about his love for comics and the complexities of his character, Number Five, in the show
Even though 'The Umbrella Academy' boasts an all-star cast, with big names like Ellen Page and Tom Hopper, Aidan Gallagher's role as Number Five is what really brings the show together. With his unparalleled skills in hand-to-hand combat, along with his ability to time-travel, 15-year-old Aidan's take on the time-traveling quinquagenarian is really something to look out for!
Despite his busy schedule (acting apart, Aidan made history last year by becoming the youngest United Nations Ambassador of all time after five years of working as an Ambassador to numerous environmental organizations), Aidan was kind enough to spare some time to speak to MEA WorldWide about his role on the show together with what inspires him, and just why he loves playing the role of the assassin.
Tell us a bit about how you got the role for Number Five? What was it about the character that appealed to you?
I heard I got an audition for the show and it was really lucky timing because only a month before I had been released from my previous show. As a teen actor, this is a dream role. I get to play a 58-year-old time traveling assassin trapped in a 13-year-old body. That takes incredible effort and focus in every moment for me. Five is focused, smart and determined. Imagine being stuck in an apocalypse as the last person on Earth for 45 years. It did something to him.
What did you think about ‘The Umbrella Academy’ graphic novel?
I was a fan of comics from a young age and grew up hanging out at Pitstop Comics in the valley digging through stacks of comics and talking about them with all the other comic lovers in there. I had been a fan of MCR and when I discovered 'The Umbrella Academy' I was instantly hooked. They are amazing because you can read and re-read them discovering nuances you didn’t find before. They are so layered with a lot of depth and that makes for great source material for the show.
What do you think separates this show from other graphic novel TV adaptations?
This show has a massive style that makes it fun to watch and it’s nothing like other superhero shows. I know they originally wanted to make a movie of it but there was so much story that it was too much for any one movie. I love how it unfolds a backstory for each character and explores these superheroes as people. It’s more than a glimpse into each of them, and as a viewer, you really get invested. It has intense action scenes, but the writing provides deep character and story.
How does it feel to be playing the role of a superhero like Number Five?
As a fan of the comics, I couldn’t be happier and more excited with the way things are turning out. Being able to inhabit the world that Number Five lives in is a roller coaster of a ride in itself, but now I get to sit back and watch the Umbrella Academy jump from page to screen! I’m really bouncing off the walls with excitement and I can’t wait to share this with everyone!
Would you say that you relate to your character? And if yes, how?
I’ve gone into deep research all about Five with Gerard (Way) and Gabriel (Bá) and Steve (Blackman) and put a lot of time into perfecting his mentality and physicality. You know he is pretty insane after being stuck in the apocalypse for 45 years and having jumped around history as an assassin trying to get back to his family!
With Number Five having the ability to transcend time and space, do you think he really has the power to change the course of history?
I spent a lot of time thinking about this idea and talking to the creators about the concept of the time-space continuum as presented in our show. This is one of those subjects where it gets very deep and very complex. For now, I will say that if you explore the comics, you’ll learn more about Five’s backstory and how important this idea is to 'The Umbrella Academy'.
How far apart, in terms of power, is Number Five from the rest of the family?
Five is powerful in many ways but each of the family has their own unique power. I’m supposed to have faster reflexes than any killer in history so I guess that’s pretty hard to beat. I suppose anyone could be caught off guard though or sleeping. As you can see just from watching the trailer, Five’s power is what drives the story forward.
With Number Five mastering time-travel, how would you explain Number 5’s child-like appearance, even though he claims to be older than the other family members?
It’s actually quite simple. It was an accident. Five explains that when he was traveling backward in time, he made a mistake in the calculations and accidentally ended up in his 13 year-old-body. The charm of this character and the humor that comes into certain situations is derived from this.
With the rest of this superhero powered family still not sure whether The Boy is insane, how then can he convince anyone of the upcoming apocalypse?
From Five’s point of view, it would be great if everyone would just get on board and be helpful. Ultimately he is moving forward to complete his mission no matter what. As the show unfolds, it becomes clear why he needs them.
Number Five tends to stay aloof from the family, except for Klaus, why do you think they get along so well?
Well, they grew up as babies together and had no friends except each other so there is a powerful bond between them that goes back to their childhood. But Five and Klaus both have similar personalities and that’s probably what bonded them most. Both are cynical. Both possess super powers that are sort of “out there”. Their personalities play well off one another making it interesting to watch them interact. They probably always joked around as kids. It is fun to work with a talent like Robert Sheehan. He brings so much spontaneous action to the scenes—the work I got to do with him was really memorable!
'The Umbrella Academy' is now available for streaming on Netflix, so put on your uniforms, and let's get to the Academy (with the permission of Sir Reginald Hargreeves, of course).