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Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy: Ellen Page, Mary J. Blige preview new series

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Attendees of the “Netflix & Chills” panel at New York Comic Con on Friday got a sneak peek at the streaming platform’s upcoming The Umbrella Academy TV series. Based on the comic by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, the show focuses on a family of strange superheroes called the Hargreeves. Tom Hopper stars as the super-strong Luther Hargreeves, David Castañeda as his brother Diego, Emmy Raver-Lampman as Allison, Aidan Gallagher as Number Five, Robert Sheehan as the medium Klaus, and Ellen Page as Vanya, while Cameron Britton and Mary J. Blige star as the time-traveling assassins Hazel and Cha Cha. All eight cast members were on stage to preview the series.

Before they talked, moderator Josh Horowitz (Happy, Sad, Confused) unveiled a sneak peek at footage from the series. The footage began like the first issue of the comic, explaining that one day in 1989 a series of women who had not previously been pregnant suddenly gave birth to unexpected children. The mysterious rich benefactor Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) adopts seven of them and molds them into the superhero team known as the Umbrella Academy. The show picks up 17 years later, when the elder Hargreeves’ death brings his adoptive children back together after years apart — except for the one formerly known as Number Six, who has since died.

Panel attendees got a sneak peek at some of the characters in action: Number Five dodging assailants’ bullets using his time travel powers and effortless attitude; Klaus stealing one of his sisters’ skirts because it breathes well; Vanya looking nervous in the face of her eccentric, superpowered siblings; and masked assassins looking very much like the comic-book Hazel and Cha Cha firing machine guns. There’s also a shot of the moon, a place Luther has been known to frequent, and another shot of a mansion door being answered by the family’s monkey butler Pogo (Adam Godley).

Blige said she wanted the role of Cha Cha because “I’ve never played anything close to this.”

“I’ve always wanted to be a superhero or supervillain or assassin or something where you have to learn how to do martial arts and shoot a gun,” Blige said. “So yeah, it’s perfect. Oh, I picked up some skills.”

Page had to pick up a new skill set as well — namely, playing the violin.

“She’s very, very, very, very excellent at it. I am not,” Page said. “This posed a challenge that I was excited to accept, and kudos to anyone who plays the violin because holy f—ing sh—, just holding the god damn thing is hard. But that’s the enjoyable thing about our job, is learning new things.”

Horowitz, who said he’s seen the first two episodes, also mentioned that there’s a dance montage early on that features each of the Hargreeves characters doing their own dance moves. The actors declined to explain the context of the sequence, though they did mention that music plays an important part in the show — perhaps not a total surprise, considering The Umbrella Academy was co-created by Way, formerly the singer of My Chemical Romance.

At the end of the panel, the actors also revealed that the show will hit Netflix on Feb. 15. Below, check out official character posters tweeted by the show’s official account on Friday.

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