Number Five is the youngest-looking member of Umbrella Academy, but with his time-traveling past he's actually the oldest - or "super old" as a Netlix poster has described him. For actor Aiden Gallagher, he has a bit of that in his own life as a veteran actor while still being 15 years-old.
Gallagher, who comes to the Netflix show after co-starring in Nickelodeon's Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn, has been a fan of Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba's original comic book series. Now, he films Netflix's Umbrella Academy while also continuging he schooling and acts as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations.
Newsarama spoke with Gallagher about his role in Umbrella Academy, which launches this week, as well as his other roles in fiction and real life.
Newsarama: Aidan, let's talk about Number 5 here because he's sort of the cornerstone here of the first arc. What were you able to relate to, if anything with the Boy?
Aidan Gallagher: I was able to relate to his frustration with his siblings for not taking the impending apocalypse seriously. As a United Nations Ambassador for the Environment I’ve become painfully aware of the serious and near threat to our planet and I’m frustrated that major industries and governments have conspired to keep the public in the dark about this.
Nrama: How you would explain the series to somebody who hasn't read the book, much less heard of it?
Gallagher: In a bizarre cosmic event, forty-three babies are suddenly given birth simultaneously to women who were not pregnant earlier that day. A strange reclusive billionaire somehow finds out about it and sets out to adopt as many as he can find somehow knowing they will have special powers. He is only able to find seven of us. He raises us to be superheroes to save the world from some future event only he knows about.
We grow up stopping crimes like normal superheroes but in time we all split apart as we grow up and get into arguments. Since we’re just adopted kids and had a horribly abusive childhood, we all just want to forget the family we grew up with. But when our father dies, we all return to bury him and say our goodbyes one last time. It’s on this day that my character returns from the future to warn my family that the apocalypse will happen in eight days.
Nrama: Were you a fan of the series or was your first exposure to the book while working on this?
Gallagher: I spent a lot of my youth hanging out in a local comic book shop and talking about comics with friends and reading about them online. I was a fan of the comics and of the band My Chemical Romance from as far back as I can remember.
Nrama: You're working with a slew of talent on this show, including Colm Feore who plays your father, Sir Reginald. What was it like working with him and the rest of the crew?
Gallagher: Colm Feore is an incredible actor and watching him work is riveting. All the adult talent on set were very kind and helpful to me and I studied each of them to elevate my acting skills.
Nrama: How would you describe Number Five’s relationship with Sir Reginald going into this season?
Gallagher: The problem with Five is that he barely has a relationship with the father. None of the kids do because he’s such a cold person. We later find out why he’s so cold to them.
It is hinted that Reginald has an appreciation for Five in a few of the scenes, but he’s a very stern and unemotional man. One reason Five runs away is because his father lacks the kindness and ability to communicate with Five.
Of course, if Five didn’t run away then he never would have discovered the apocalypse is coming and be able to come back in time to stop it. Fans will note the living room scenes where Five’s portrait hangs prominently above the fireplace and Pogo tells Vanya in the first episode that Reginald never lost hope that Five would return.
Nrama: We spoke to Gerard last fall during New York Comic Con and he did mention a few changes visually. Was there something from the book that you had personally wanted that didn't quite make the cut?
Gallagher: I really love the look and feel of the show. All the sets and props and costumes. My costume is exactly as Five is portrayed in the comics. The sets have solid reference in the comic look that fans will recognize. It feels as if they’ve come to life.
The cameras and lighting and smoke all create an amazing atmosphere you really feel a part of. I loved how it turned out on the screen, but I could see from the first day shooting in Vanya’s apartment that it was going to be an exceptional production.
Nrama: Ellen Page plays your adoptive sister Vanya here. Did she pass along any advice that might have helped make your scenes work better?
Gallagher: Being a child star herself I felt she had an empathy for what I was going through and was very kind towards me. The subtleties and layers of her performance pushes me to a higher level of acting as well.
Nrama: You've been acting since you were nine, so does Umbrella Academy feel like the biggest thing you've done so far?
Gallagher: It’s definitely the biggest thing I’ve done. My last show was a global hit but it was a sitcom so it’s different. A lot of kids go through the kids’ networks and most never do anything again after that. I feel very lucky to have found an adult series to graduate to.
Umbrella Academy is a show of a lifetime for anyone and I can’t imagine anything bigger. It’s bigger than any TV or film I’ve ever seen. It’s a ten-hour film of the highest budget and the most complex plot and characters. It’s most likely going to be the biggest thing any of us will ever do. It’s that iconic people will be talking about it for the rest of my life.
Nrama: Would making comics be something interesting for you to do after this experience?
Gallagher: This all started with me making my own comics! When I was a kid I was in love with comics. I also loved to draw and write stories. My dad showed me how to storyboard everything and create my own comics. I started making sets for my action figures out of cardboard and shooting stop motion videos with my Legos! I also shot some shorts with friends.
My dad was an agent and he was able to get me on some sets so I could see how a real set works and how to direct. Soon after that I got was cast in a few projects and found I loved acting. I imagine one day I will write and direct my own series or film.
It’s very inspiring to meet Gerard who loved comics as a kid, became a rockstar, and has been crafting these incredible comic book stories all along. I’m also a singer, songwriter, musician and am working on producing my own music. So yes, music and comics would be cool! And I think I’ll keep acting too.