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Umbrella Academy's Ellen Page on Giving Vanya Space to Open Up

Ellen Page as Vanya Hargreeves.
Ellen Page as Vanya Hargreeves.
Image: Netflix/Christos Kalohoridis

The first trailer for Umbrella Academy’s second season made it abundantly clear that the Netflix series is pivoting into a markedly different direction than the Dark Horse comics series it’s based on. Where the initial comic arc left Vanya (Ellen Page in the series) quite incapacitated thanks to a gunshot, the TV show ended its first season with Vanya gunshot-free.

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But with this new direction for The Umbrella Academy comes a new sort of freedom for at least some of the Hargreeves siblings who all spent their lives being manipulated by their father in varying ways’. Though Vanya—the devastatingly destructive White Violin—stumbles into season two in a particularly chaotic way, Page explained to io9 during a set visit last winter that being transported into the past actually ends up being something of a healing experience for her character.

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Unlike her siblings, who step into the ‘60s fully aware of their history as world-famous superheroes, an unexpected accident leaves Vanya without the bulk of her memory and in need of assistance to get her back on her feet. In the comics, it’s Vanya’s sister Allison who nurses her back to health after their brother Five shoots her in the head to prevent her from destroying the world. Here, though, it’s a woman named Sissy (Marin Ireland) who comes to Vanya’s rescue by inviting her to stay on her farm along with her family. Though Sissy’s married with a child, her and Vanya’s relationship soon grows more than platonic for a variety of complicated reasons.

Page explained that for Vanya, this is all an outgrowth of her newfound freedom to organically discover what sort of person she is.

“So Sissy and I fall in love. We’re having an affair—call it that—while I’m living with the husband and the child,” Page said. “In terms of that being the foundation of Vanya’s story this season, and creating this incredible world around that bit—having it be such a big part of the show and Vanya’s life was exciting for me.”

Sissy and Vanya sharing a moment.
Sissy and Vanya sharing a moment.
Image: Netflix
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In a similar way that Vanya’s amnesia inadvertently makes it easier for her to tap into her queerness in a way that she never could have while living under her father’s control, Page described how Vanya’s new situation also leads her to gain a different and more nuanced relationship with her once-destructive powers. Even though Vanya has no idea how she’s able to do the things she can, she knows that it comes naturally to her, and she isn’t inclined to be fearful of that fact.

Between the reemergence of Vanya’s powers and her relationship with Sissy, Page said the new season gave her the opportunity to deliver a much more complicated dynamic performance.

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“So this season’s very different because she’s more animated, present, and living her life,” Page said. “Whereas before she was extremely shut down, isolated, and obviously, deeply, deeply repressed. This is like a whole starting off point and an opportunity for someone to just feel and explore exactly who they are.”

The Umbrella Academy premieres this Friday, July 31.

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io9 Culture Critic and Staff Writer. Cyclops was right.

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DISCUSSION

smittywerbenjagermanjensen22
Evil Lincoln

Ellen Page is great in comedies but some of my favorite roles of hers are darkly tragic like The East or Super. She has more range than you think