Cameron Britton on His Unorthodox Audition for Hazel in ‘The Umbrella Academy’

Cameron Britton – deadly assassin and fed-up blue-collar worker as The Umbrella Academy’s Hazel – landed his role by doing precisely what all the handbooks advise against doing.

Cameron Britton
Cameron Britton | Getty Images

Struggling to transfer Hazel from the comics to a live-action character, Britton walked into the audition and asked “what do you want?,” to which the casting director replied, “I don’t know,” according to Tribute Movies. So, Britton proceeded to perform – crossing his fingers with no sense of direction – and landed the role.

According to Britton, Blackman saw something in his portrayal and “liked where [he] was going with Hazel.” Initially, Britton got the first three episodes. Britton goes on to explain that Hazel developed as he got to know the character “more and more.”

Why transferring Hazel to the screen proved difficult

In the comic book series, Hazel and Cha-Cha are a little bit more two-dimensional than their television counterparts. If executed directly in-line with the comics, both assassins would have lacked fleshed out narrative arcs, succumbing to a mix of bubbliness and psychoticism.

While this character archetype works perfectly for a villain in a graphic novel, the medium elicits different requirements for success (as compared to TV).

When Britton auditioned, the casting director (and others involved in the Netflix production) hadn’t yet worked out how Cha-Cha and Hazel would transform for the screen, according to Britton’s interview with Tribute Movies. So, Britton himself was part of the alteration process.

Britton brings a depth to the character that audiences appreciate. Seemingly a natural-born-killer, he is distraught by the futility apparent in each “mission.” Not to mention, he winds up falling in love on the hunt for Number Five.

Why Hazel is essential to ‘The Umbrella Academy’

Hazel, similar to Vanya in a way, is not good or bad. He does “bad” things but, unlike Cha-Cha, does not seem to identify with his heinous acts. Hazel is the “Catwoman” of the series. He does not take sides; he chooses his own.

If the time-traveling debacle still permits the character to bear influence on the narrative, it will be fascinating to see who Hazel teams up with. Will he side with the Hargreeves, or try to separate himself from the whole mess, likely to no avail?

Regardless of what’s to come, Cameron Britton brought an inspiring degree of dynamism to an evil villain whom, in the comics, was less complex. Somehow equally ruthless and pensive, Hazel captures the audience’s heart.

Hazel: the underrated future savior?

Based on the season one finale, Hazel seems unlikely to side with the “bad guys” unless pressured to do so (they may have to threaten him with the donut lady’s life…again).

It seems likely that Hazel will be forced to make a decision for the good of all mankind (as part of his character development). However, given this show’s disparagement of all superhero cliches, “the bad guy turned good guy” trope seems a little too predictable. Thus, seeing how the show balances Hazel’s development with its underlying themes and tendencies should prove to be fascinating.

Let’s hope Hazel sticks around for season two, or at least makes a cameo appearance; the character is too interesting to do away with just yet. He hasn’t fully discovered himself, and audiences haven’t yet seen all that he has to offer. And as for his partner in crime, Cha-Cha, someone needs to screw her head on straight. Come on Mary J., get with the program: The Handler sees you as a dog waiting to do tricks.