Emmy Raver-Lampman is a revelation on the Netflix original series The Umbrella Academy. Having watched every episode of the show, based on the comic book by Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance, we can safely point out that the performer goes to extreme depths and comes out the other side looking like a breakout star. Therefore, we were thrilled to exclusively go in-depth one-on-one with the multi-talented Raver-Lampman in a rewarding and heartfelt interview.
We are pleased to present a condensed and edited interview with Allison Hargreeves herself, the supremely delightful Emmy Raver-Lampman of The Umbrella Academy.
Brief Take: You’ve recently been at several big premieres of the show. Getting re-acquainted with your cast mates must have been a real thrill.
Emmy Raver-Lampman: You work so hard and so closely with a group of people for so long, then you go away for almost the same amount of time that you worked together. So if you get along the way that this cast does, we’re always so excited to see each other and kind of pick up where we left off, and make fun of each other and laugh. [giggles]
BT: Tell me about when you all developed this incredible dynamic.
ERL: I think that it was the first time we shot a group scene. The first shot that we all were in together was the funeral. So that was our first time together, all being on set at the same time, and it was miserable. I mean it was negative ten degrees in Toronto, it was snowing, they were dumping artificial rain on us, they were Beyoncé fans, it was nuts. Every time the cameras weren’t rolling, we were huddled under the space heaters trying to get warm and dry off, just having the best time. That was probably the first week of shooting, and I probably instantly knew that we were going to get on so well. I knew that we were going to figure out the dynamic of the family, because it’s so important, and it wasn’t difficult at all.
BT: I loved and thought you were so brilliant in the dance number in the park scene and then the heartbreaking phone booth scene near the end. What was your favourite scene to shoot?
ERL: The phone booth scene was probably my favourite because I remember reading it in the script and being like “Oh, wow! That is devastating and heartbreaking, but also such a sweet moment between Luther and Allison.” There was so much there, but actually it was the last shot of the entire season. It was Tom (Hopper) and I crammed in this phone booth at 6 o’clock in the morning [laughs] and everybody trying to beat the sun. After we finished shooting that scene, we wrapped the whole season, which was our baby, so I loved that scene, and then subsequently being the last scene of the season that was shot was really, really cool. But the other side of that is the dance. And Tom is one of my best friends now—we’ve just gotten on so well— and I come from a musical background, so learning a dance isn’t anything new to me and something about which I’m really excited, but he’s never done anything like that and was petrified [laughs]. But he was just such an awesome partner and so ready to learn and laugh at himself. [laughs] I think that was the best part, is that he knew that he was out of his comfort zone and having a good time, as opposed to getting defeated by it. But he nailed it, he did such a good job and I’m so proud of him, and it could have easily been not as exciting. But with the lighting and the park, he was just so magical. It was really, really cool.
BT: How much of this character is her own entity and how much of Allison belongs to you?
ERL: I feel really connected to this person, because in the comics, Allison is definitely a little harsher, she’s got a harsher look and she’s got this harder outer shell. You get such a limited glimpse of her from the comics, but because the show has had the ability to dive a little deeper, I think that I’ve just been able to investigate a softness in her that is just nurturing, a motherly quality about her. But at the same time, she has to be strong and fierce in order to put up with her brothers [chuckles], and the other side of her life, you know, this tragic divorce of which she is in the middle, and losing her daughter. I can completely relate to compartmentalizing things that she has in that way. I think it’s one of those things when you are trying to create a character that you spend a lot of time in the beginning thinking for them, and I think something clicks when you’ve been doing it long enough, like halfway through it becomes second nature for you. Luckily enough, I like having to work with wigs, because they kind of help me take on a different person and a different personality. I think that it had always helped me because I feel like I would put on Allison and it was nice kind of having to think about making decisions for her. It just started to happen naturally, and I could sense with everyone in the show, Tom would put on his Luther suit, and you could kind of see him take on this different physical stance, and he carried himself differently. I think that everyone started to figure out that the longer we were shooting, these characters would kind of become their own entity, in a weird way. [laughs]
BT: The show brings up some pretty relevant social issues, like on the last episode you are literally smashing the patriarchy.
ERL: Yeah, I think that is a conversation that I am having with myself because this is all very new territory for me. [laughs] The concept of a platform and the one through which I have personally always lived my life is following my happiness and treating people the way that I would like to be treated, and with working and surrounding myself with inspiring, creative people. I haven’t quite figured out where I’m going to end up settling on how outspoken I want to be on my political views and about what I think my thoughts on whatever is happening on the news and in our world. I think that’s very much a part of this next phase of my life that I am going to take time and give myself patience with where I want to be and how I want to react to this ever-changing political climate.
BT: How has working on The Umbrella Academy helped you to reach your goals?
ERL: That’s such an interesting question for me, because I’ve never had a 5, 10, 15 year plan or expectation on my life or my career. A year and a half ago, you could not have paid me money to believe that I would be a lead on a new TV show on Netflix — that was not even a thing that was circling in my mind. Like I mentioned earlier, I have always followed my happiness—all of the things that fulfill me and the projects that inspire me. And I’ve surrounded myself with people who either lead a very similar way of living and / or inspire and get my creative juices bubbling. I’ve always taken whatever road I feel like I would be the happiest doing and the adventure that kind of perks my interest. So I have no idea where I will be in 5 years—I have no idea where I will be in 10 years, honestly 2 years ago, you couldn’t pay me to believe I’d be living in L.A., now I own a house in L.A. [laughs] Being a part of Umbrella, I think that if we get 6 seasons, I think that is the most ahead of schedule planning I have ever had. [laughs loudly]
BT: Where were some places you liked to hang out when you filmed in Toronto?
ERL: It was so crazy, because we were there from January through July. So we saw Toronto in every single phase of weather. [laughs] But I loved just walking up and down Queen Street and we went to a lot of music festivals. I had been to Niagara Falls before, and a lot of my cast members went up to Niagara or rented cabins out in the forest and on lakes and went to a couple of basketball games. Toronto’s a great city! It’s like a great hybrid between New York and Chicago.
BT: What was your most memorable pinch me moment from your time in Hamilton?
ERL: Every time the Obamas came to the show. [laughs] I walk away from my Hamilton experience with so many to be grateful for, but getting to meet the Obamas and getting to spend time with their family. They invited us to the White House and getting that time with them, seeing who they are a little bit, behind their politics and everything, it just was really cool to get to spend some time with them before they were out of the White House.
BT: What about your experience playing Elphaba in Wicked?
ERL: It is such a dream role to play, and as an actor there is so much to bite into in the role. She gets to fall in love, she gets to fly, she gets to [laughs] be angry, and she gets to do magic spells and she gets to form a beautiful female friendship. She goes through so much, and it was one of the best theatre roles I’ve ever gotten to play. And on top of that, you get to be painted green and sing your heart out. It’s a pretty unbelievable role, it’s kind of crazy.
BT: Who are some people who you have worked with previously that you’d like to work with again or haven’t that you would like to work with in the future?
ERL: Oh, man. That’s a good question! Well first and foremost, I think Steve Blackman is unbelievable and his understanding of how to make TV shows and write an innovative story, and there isn’t a project that he can do that I wouldn’t want to work with him again. He cares so much about what he does, but he also cares so much about the people that he works with, and I just think that finding people like that in this industry is so important. He just always makes sure that everyone is taken care of. It trickles down from the top and everyone who gets to work with him, I think that we’re all so thrilled to be a part of this show and his vision and all of that. I love Ryan Coogler, like it would be awesome to work with him on something. I’m also still so new in TV and in film, so I’m also just now starting to think about “Who are some directors who I would like to work with?”. I think that’s still a new process for me and a new way of thinking, because for so long, I know that answer for theatre, but it’s different now that I’m in a completely different industry. [laughs]
BT: If you had Allison’s “I heard a rumour…” power in real life, how would you use it?
ERL: I feel like the world could use a lot more kindness and openheartedness and understanding. I would use it for love and encouragement and something along those lines, definitely for sure, if I could. [laughs]
The Umbrella Academy is currently streaming on Netflix