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Steve Blackman on the Development of The Umbrella Academy Season Two [Exclusive Interview]

Steve Blackman
Steve Blackman is the creator and showrunner of The Umbrella Academy

Steve Blackman didn’t have any superpowers to foresee the success of The Umbrella Academy.

After its premiere on Netflix, the series gathered a powerful cult following making it an ideal series for repeat watches.

With its season two premiere this past weekend, The Umbrella Academy vaulted immediately as one of the most-watched series on Netflix.

In season two, the heroes jumped back in time to only discover they must prevent the apocalypse once again. New and old faces hinder their path towards their happy reunion.

The series star Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, David Castaneda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, and Aidan Gallagher.

LRM Online exclusively spoke to creator and showrunner Steve Blackman late last month over the phone. Without any spoilers, we discussed the love for the family, series, and, most importantly, the dance sequence.

Currently, The Umbrella Academy season two streams on Netflix today.

ALSO READ: Umbrella Academy Season 2 Spoiler Review – Phenomenal Fun

Read the exclusive interview below and let us know what you think.

Gig Patta: I’ve waited for so long to get to talk to you for The Umbrella Academy season two.

Steve Blackman: I’m thrilled. So glad to hear that makes my day.

Gig Patta: Well, you had such a great cliffhanger from season one. So, I looked forward to season two all these months.

Steve Blackman: That’s good to hear.

Gig Patta: Let’s talk about season two. I’m not going to go into specific spoilers or anything because a lot of people haven’t seen the show yet. One of the things that a lot of people know is there’s a theme of the apocalypse again, which is the same theme from the first season. It isn’t that a very bold, risky move? Notably, it’s similar to reintroducing the Death Star in every Star Wars movie.

Steve Blackman: Here’s the thing–I knew already by the time I was finishing season one for them to have mistakenly brought the apocalypse with them. It’s not the same apocalypse, but they screwed up incredibly at the end of season one. We saw with the end of the world happening. Therefore, there were consequences to time jumping, and their actions spread out in time. As we all know, it’s not a secret that they don’t all arrive at the same time. They arrived in the same place at different times. So right away, I wanted to throw a loop into it that scenario. Yes, there’s an apocalypse. It’s a different one now. How did we get there? What did we do? It was fun parallel, but it’s not trying to be derivative in many ways. The fans will go along with it.

Gig Patta: The other thing that I also thought it was a tricky business was the idea of time jumps or time travel. In a lot of time travel stories, they always mess it up. In this case, you did your research very well to make sure that you don’t create like these loopholes. Could you talk about the rules and the research that you went into making this right?

Steve Blackman: Well, I feel that you said that. The thing I argued the most about with the writers is time travel. What’s hilarious about that is none of us had time travel ever, but we all think we know how it works. So, part of what we had to do is to practice one rule of time travel. I was the final arbitrar and said, “You may all be right how it works, but the world we live in there are always consequences.” Somebody said, “You can’t exist in the same time period as yourself.” And I said, “Well, why not?” If you’re going to exist in the same time period with yourself, then it has to be consequences. I wasn’t giving that too much away. You saw how that went down.

We loved the circular time things. There’s a lot of references to the repercussions of season one in amusing ways in season two. However, they lead back to it. We’re always playing with time in that way, but I just loved time travel stories. I liked them as a kid, and I loved them now.

Gig Patta: You did an excellent job. How do you decide which characters to necessarily bring back in which characters to leave dead? I had a list of my predictions in my head on who is coming back for season two. I was somewhat wrong. How did you know which one to bring back and which one to leave dead?

Steve Blackman: Well, I brought them all back. I loved the cast so much that we wanted everyone to come back. To complicate their lives, we didn’t have them come back together. That was a real choice to make it a little more complicated for them. They quickly could have arrived all together. But, to throw them out of time makes their life a little bit more miserable, which I love.

Gig Patta: Even before I binged on your season two, I went out and bought the comic books to make a comparison. In my opinion, your show does a much better job explaining than comics. Could you talk about how hard to adapt directly from the comics into a show like this?

Steve Blackman: It’s challenging. I don’t directly adapt. The graphic novel was used as a springboard and inspiration. It helps at the forefront is I’m good friends with Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba. I love talking to them, and I’m very collaborative with them. In my effort, I pitched them the whole season at the beginning of the year. They’re not involved day-to-day, but I wanted them to love where I’m going. I would hate not to be on the same page.

What makes the graphic novel so great is that it’s nonlinear. It’s such incredible creative storytelling but wouldn’t translate to a ten-hour TV show. First of all, some of these we could simply not afford and other things that just couldn’t work in a 10-hour story. So, I picked and chose the things I like. Afterward, I mentally had the freedom to bring my ideas that don’t exist in the graphic novel. It’s lovely now that some of the things we’re doing, Gerard will be writing into the story. These two mediums are now combining and coexisting, which is wonderful.

Gig Patta: Now, in the first season, you put in a lot of Easter eggs from the comics into your show. Have you done the same? I’m going to have to watch the show multiple times to catch them all.

Steve Blackman: Oh, yeah. We’ve done way more than the first year. We’ll be announcing some of them after we drop just some really interesting things. There are Easter eggs that not only talk about the past, but they will allude to things that are coming. In assuming we get a third season, which we’re hoping for, there’s some fun stuff. People look hard at this. It will be very satisfying. Some of them, we’ll help them know to look for. And some of them they’re just going to have to find on their own.

Gig Patta: The production with the 1960 themes, it was an entirely new world that you have to create. Could you talk about the challenges for you to create this whole new world departing from the set and production from the first season?

Steve Blackman: Yeah, it’s a great question. It was tricky. We went to Dallas in early scouting, and we couldn’t find any streets left that looked like the 1960s. So we ended up going to Hamilton, Ontario, which is north of Toronto. We found a wonderful street that looked like Dallas in 1963. Believe it or not, other than the storefront signs, we didn’t have to treat it that much. It wasn’t full of VFX.

We only shot in Dallas for the shift there for two days. Everything else was shot in Canada. Anytime you do periods with period cars and period costumes, it’s always more challenging for everybody. You know, it was much harder to do the shift.

Gig Patta: One of the things that I did enjoy was it was the flashback to the kids. I don’t want to reveal it in season two, but are you possibly have plans to bring back those same kids again? Maybe if there is a season three?

Steve Blackman: I’m not going to promise, but I love those kids. They’re such sweet kids, and we’re watching them grow up. When it makes sense from a story point of view to say something to their past, I’m going to do it. Without getting in the way, I loved that scene with them. It’s a beautiful scene. It’s a delight to see them a little older. Hopefully, we will find a way of doing that again next year, assuming there is the next season.

Gig Patta: Well, I’m crossing my fingers.

Steve Blackman: Me too.

Gig Patta: In the writer’s room, I’ve loved the plots with the family interactions. This is what makes it a great show. With all the characters, even though it’s family, they’re a very dysfunctional family. Could you tell me about the process of how you managed to develop these characters? How did you make them touch our hearts to love every single one of them?

Steve Blackman: Big question. First of all, the heart of the show that it’s a dysfunctional family show. The only reason I decided to do this project, because I didn’t know the graphic novel before I was introduced to it for the show. I instantly saw it as a dysfunctional family show.

The superheroes are great in my mind. It’s something special they have, but I love this family and how real they are. What makes them viewable by so many people in so many countries is that you know these characters. People in your life are like them.

Another thing that helps is with the wonderful great casting. These actors are so good, and they embodied their actor that the characters are playing. We do love each other on and off set. They hang out together when they’re not shooting. They’re close to each other. That comes up on the screen how much they truly actually liked each other.

Gig Patta: I’m curious. Who is your favorite umbrella Academy character?

Steve Blackman: I can’t say that. I love them all the time. I love all my kids equally.

Gig Patta: So you’re going to give me that answer that they’re all your favorite children, huh?

Steve Blackman: Yeah. I have to give you that.

Gig Patta: Some of the fans trying to predict where are the other ones that were born on that particular day of October 1st. I couldn’t remember if there were 39 or more than 40. I can’t even remember the number myself.

Steve Blackman: Forty-three in total.

Gig Patta: So 43 in total. If there are more seasons, are you going to introduce more and more of them into the storyline?

Steve Blackman: That’d be a good guess without giving too much away. What’s fun about it is that some of them might be good. Some of them may be bad. Some of them may be somewhere in between. But, they discovered this year that they’re not the only one. Dad didn’t tell them about anyone else. So, it will be entertaining and challenging to find out there are others. It will be a great thing to see as we go forward.

Gig Patta: When you plan a show like this–do you already have multiple seasons in mind? Is there a basic outline in mind, or do you just wait from season to season upon approval?

Steve Blackman: I have some goalposts in mind as for the next season. So, I have a very good idea of what I want to do for season three. I don’t have that tasked right now. Part of the reason is I don’t want to get too ahead of Gerard and Gabriel. But, I have three solid seasons in my head, so hopefully, we’ll get the third one.

Gig Patta: I can’t wait to get a hold of the next chronicle of comic books coming out this September. I do have one more question for you, Steve. One of my favorite scenes, in which a lot of people’s favorite scenes, was the dance sequence scene in season one. To everyone’s satisfaction, there is a dance somewhat of a dance sequence scene in season two. Was it difficult to try to repeat that magic?

Steve Blackman: It’s just a smaller one. It’s a very sweet one. But, I know the expectation was to do a huge dance sequence this year. And I didn’t want to do that necessarily. It would be too derivative to go as big as what we did last year, but I did want to do a sweet little thing. We achieved that, but every year we’re trying to challenge the audiences in new different ways. We’ll come up with a new, great thing. If we have a season three–we’ll try to do something special every year.

Gig Patta: Excellent. I do appreciate it. And you know what? You left me on another cliff hanger. I can’t wait to talk to you about season three.

Steve Blackman: Me too. It’s great talking to you.

The Umbrella Academy season two streams on Netflix today.

Source: LRM Online Exclusive, Netflix

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