Robert Sheehan Discusses “the Many Colors on Klaus’ Palette” in ‘The Umbrella Academy’

Robert Sheehan – the devotedly deranged and drug-addicted savior in Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy – retains a complex character profile. Nonchalant and loony on the surface, Klaus is fraught with internal conflict and suppressed trauma.

Klaus Hargreeves, AKA The Seance, often struggles to summon his powers because the drugs dampen his abilities. Throughout the season, viewers watch Klaus slowly accept his lifestyle’s futility, attempt to quit drugs (any of which he can acquire) and cope with withdrawal.

Robert Sheehan
Robert Sheehan | Getty Images

In an interview with Tribute Movies, Robert Sheehan stated,

“They really indulged any sort of lunacy that I was willing to come up with or hatch on the day, so that was really fun…I’m playing Klaus and I can be and do anything. And that was the sort of philosophy that permeated his look, his behavior. But really, people who do that, there’s a fragility to them. So, we started off with this kind of cut slightly insane character who’s kind of falling apart at the seams, but then you start to see the soft and gooey and traumatized center of the character as the thing goes on. So, it was a lot to play around with. There was many colors on Klaus’s palette, thankfully.”

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Similar to Sheehan’s character Nathan in Misfits, Klaus is a darkly comic individual who often serves as a dramatic reprieve. However, Klaus is much more troubled and emotionally driven than he lets on, as is seen by his decision to save Luther at the nightclub.

Klaus Hargreeves: from pointless person to pivotal player

*Spoilers ahead*

Klaus Hargreeves has one of the most enthralling narrative arcs in all of season one, likely only outrivaled by Ellen Page’s Vanya.

Klaus, starting as the man who can’t contact his dad from beyond the grave, becomes the guy who summons the powers of the long-deceased Number 6 to save his entire family.

Made a mockery of throughout season one, Klaus Hargreeves transforms into a pivotal “hero” during the finale. Viewers are led to assume that if Klaus didn’t channel Number 6, all the siblings would have died via armored onslaught.

The Challenge: retain comedic flair while developing narrative val

Robert Sheehan, as Klaus, must transform into a crucial savior while remaining light-hearted and true to his lunatic-oriented character profile. Perfectly balancing humor with long-delayed epiphanies, a returned familial loyalty, and drug withdrawal, Sheehan excels.

Klaus is written in such a way that, even though the audience sees him dance in shower robes and throw back liquor, he is never dismissed. It’s as if viewers are asked to place him “on-hold,” waiting for his big moment to gain his family’s respect and trust. And of course, it comes at the close.

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here we see Klaus in his natural habitat

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Robert Sheehan’s other projects

In addition to his major role as Nathan Young on the U.K. Series Misfits, Robert Sheehan has also starred in Mortal Engines, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, and Love/Hate.

In Mortal Engines, Robert Sheehan plays an outcast in a world hundreds of years post-civilization. He joins forces with the main character, Hester Shaw. She is the one person destined to prevent London, now an unrelenting city on wheels, from taking down everything in its path.

Starring as Simon in Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Sheehan plays the best friend to the movie’s main protagonist, who – upon seeing a strange symbol – learns that she’s a shadow hunter bound to slay demons.

Robert Sheehan has also appeared in The Young Offenders, Genius, Bad Samaritan, and Mute. Born in Ireland in 1988, Sheehan went onto to study film and television at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology; however, he missed much of his studies filming Summer of the Flying Saucer.

After failing his first year of examinations, he never looked back. Sheehan began performing stand-up comedy throughout Ireland before landing his major TV roles.