A chat with David Castañeda about his role in one of the biggest TV sensations right now: “The Umbrella Academy”
Right now, it’s perhaps safe to say that pretty much anyone who has spent any amount of time on Netflix would be familiar with a certain infamous super dysfunctional family and its characters. “The Umbrella Academy” has garnered a lot of attention ever since the debut of its first season in 2019. It is an action-drama series based on a comic book by Gerard Way and tells the story of seven adopted siblings, each with their own superpowers, called The Umbrella Academy. The show chronicles their adventures in stopping the apocalypse, battling bad guys as well as their own demons. The second season of the show started airing at the end of July and received positive reviews from fans and critics alike.
Not too long ago, we got the opportunity to talk with David Castañeda, who plays Diego Hargreeves, or sometimes known as The Kraken and Number Two, our favorite charismatic vigilante. The Mexican-American actor shared about his character’s transformation and character development in the second season, as well as his plans for the rest of the year. Fair warning, however: There are quite a few spoilers ahead.
DA MAN: Hi, David. Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. How are you doing these days?
David Castañeda: Good! Thank you for asking…
DA: Congratulations on the second season of “The Umbrella Academy.” We have to say, it was worth the wait! It’s even better than the first season. What was it like working on the second season compared to the first one?
DC: It was different. We already were familiar with each other and the characters, so that wasn’t in the forefront. I think my biggest thing coming in to the new season was how to not make it stale and continue the search of who Diego was and is.
DA: What came through your mind when you first landed the role? What drew you to Diego Hargreeves’ character?
DC: I needed to get to work. That was the first thing that came to mind. I think the thing that drew me in was his dynamic with his father and how much he disdained his father’s opinion yet lived by it. It was a good way to tap into parts of me that allowed me to be angry.
DA: Building on the success of the first season, was there significant pressure on the cast and crew to make the second even better?
DC: Just pressure on myself, I would say. We would hear it from others outside the bubble about the possibilities of disappointing the fans that already loved the show. I thought it was a great scenario to change it up since people already dig the characters.
DA: There’s surprisingly a lot of talk about Diego’s hairstyle in this season. Whose decision was it to grow it out?
DC: Steve Blackman—“The Umbrella Academy” showrunner—brought it up during a dinner in London. He said, “I want him disheveled.” I just said, “Say no more, fam.” Disheveled and stripped off control … those were things that were in my mind every time I would look at the script of the first episode. Why? How? And what does that do to a person? It was a lot of fun.
DA: There are a lot of changes in season two. What do you think is the biggest one for Diego?
DC: I think the biggest change for him would be that he was able to dismantle the shadow of being number two in the Umbrella Academy and try and bring the band together rather than separating from everyone. Finding someone like Lila, who he saw shades of himself in, and through their journey, Diego was able to open up more to his family. Just a little bit.
DA: Speaking about character development, this season your character got to confront his father, only to be shot down again by him. How important is this scene to Diego and do you think it would affect him at all in the future?
DC: I knew before we started shooting the second season that there would be a dinner with Reginald Hargreeves. Steve had brought it up before we even got the first script. I’d write what questions and conversations Diego would have had with his father if he’d see him again. So, it was one of the most important ones: It brought him back to his childhood and proved a point that sometimes you revert back to being a kid when you revisit things that you only knew as a kid.
“I have been given an opportunity to tell stories that can resonate with people and I am not taking that for granted anymore”
DA: You certainly have more action scenes this season. We even saw Diego’s power that we haven’t seen before. Talk to us about the preparation. Did you do your own action scenes?
DC: I wanted to make sure I could do my fighting scenes. So, I went to Thailand for a month at a Muay Thai camp to learn a new art a month before we started shooting in Toronto. I love fight choreography. It’s a precise dance and being able to learn and unlearn moves while shooting a fight scene is key to make sure no one gets hurt.
DA: What would be the biggest difference and similarity between you and Diego?
DC: Difference … almost everything. Similarities … probably just my face.
DA: What did you find the most challenging this season?
DC: I’d say the last episode was tough. Since it had snowed on us when we shot at Sissy’s ranch, there were a lot of moving parts and scenes would change by the hour. So, we had to be ready to shoot any scene on any given day.
DA: There’s a huge plot twist at the season finale. What was your reaction when you first found out?
DC: I thought it was great. It opens a lot of possibilities for our characters in the future.
DA: How familiar were you with the comic books before?
DC: Not that familiar until the role came to me. Then I began reading them and enjoyed them very much. I’ve read the first two now, “Apocalypse” and “Dallas.”
“I love fight choreography. It’s a precise dance and being able to learn and unlearn moves while shooting a fight scene is key to make sure no one gets hurt”
DA: Are there any particular stories in the comic book involving Diego that you would like to explore?
DC: When he was in a band with Klaus and Vanya. I’d like to see that.
DA: We’ve seen footage showing the elevator scene, where you were very visibly hiding your laughter. What happened that day?
DC: There is always a want to be different. When we began rehearsing that scene, everyone was reacting grossed out by it. I kept asking myself, “Who really farted?” Going back to being kids, I think Diego and Luther have always had a rivalry and I believed that they would do things and other siblings would get blamed for it. After a few takes, I decided it was Diego. So, I giggled. That giggle eventually turned into belly laughs, especially watching Emmy’s [Raver-Lampman] reaction. It was always Diego in my mind.
DA: What are you the most proud of when it comes to “The Umbrella Academy” and your career as a whole?
DC: That I have been given an opportunity to tell stories that can resonate with people and I am not taking that for granted anymore.
DA: If you were a superhero in real life, what would be your superpower? Better yet, what are you going to do with that power?
DC: I want to heal others of negligence and heartbreak
DA: If we can touch on the current state of the world, how do you keep yourself positive during these hard times?
DC: Usually a nice soda water and lime, a big canvas and paint. A good dance on socks and a few Facetime calls with friends and families.
DA: What would be your dream creative project?
DC: I want to act, write and direct my own movie with my friends.
DA: Looking forward, what’s the next big thing you hope to achieve?
DC: To finish writing a few stories I can’t get out of my head and track down Francisco Cantu, an author who I greatly admire and I would love to work with
DA: Last question: What’s your plan for the rest of the year?
DC: To help others and to be kind to myself.
PHOTOGRAPHY Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
PHOTO ASSISTANT Ian Phillips
STYLING Kimberly Goodnight
GROOMING Amanda Tralle using MAC
HAIR PRODUCT using Starring by Ted Gibson
SKIN CARE using Laura Mercier
SHARE THIS ARTICLE