Robert Sheehan Explains Where Klaus Is Most Human in ‘The Umbrella Academy’

Robert Sheehan portrays Klaus Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy. He is the darkly humorous, unpredictable, self-serving hero who communes with the dead. Yet, the term hero is applied loosely here, as heroism has been thrown upon him due to an imminent apocalypse, and he doesn’t necessarily rise to the challenge. Klaus enjoys a hedonistic lifestyle, but he has a warm heart, and his desire to do the right thing — when push comes to shove — often trumps his self-preserving tendencies. 

Robert Sheehan The Umbrella Academy
Robert Sheehan of ‘The Umbrella Academy’ | Dia Dipasupil / Staff

Unlike many superheroes — wielding shields and jumping into the line of fire — Klaus is a bit more human. Klaus is not a device for delivering a superhero message, but rather just a man, who happens to be a super-capable — with all the gray morality and decision-making complexities that define his mere mortal counterparts. During an interview with Seventeen, Robert Sheehan discussed where Klaus’ humanity shines through. 

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Robert Sheehan talks about Klaus’ humanity in ‘The Umbrella Academy’

Klaus is a complex character in The Umbrella Academy. Sometimes, his selfishness is so intense that it’s mind-boggling. Other times, his familial compassion emerges, giving the character the degree of three-dimensionality that makes this show a success. When asked about Dave — Klaus’ lost love from the Vietnam War — Sheehan talked about Klaus’ humanity, noting: 

He’s highly reckless on that front. I don’t think anything about the timeline makes any sense to Klaus, especially this idea that Five was always trying to drill down their necks. “Look, you can’t change timeline, everything affects everything else.” He’s like, “Yeah, whatever.” It’s an incredibly Buddhist thing to try to tell these rarefied Americans. Everybody lives these sort of cellular lives and certainly Klaus is deluded into thinking that nobody’s lives really affect each other’s that much. He’s happy to live in that cognitive distance. I think he’s selfish with love. He just wants to look out for his own interests. That’s where he is as a human being.

Seventeen

Klaus protects Klaus in ‘The Umbrella Academy’

Klaus protects his own heart. He yearns to prevent Dave from enlisting. He doesn’t always think about the “good of humankind,” for he must think about the “good of Klaus.” 

He puts his own love and his own desire for romance and happiness above the desire to keep the space-time continuum in balance. In that capacity, Klaus’ humanity shines through; he is not a basic hero with basic hero worldviews and tendencies. 

He is a man, forced to make decisions that no man will ever have to make. While his selfishness is filled to the brim with a lack of precaution, it is by no means unfair, for why can’t he be happy? Why must his happiness evade him as the world gets to live in ignorant bliss?