‘The Umbrella Academy’: The Perfect, Terrifying Way Aidan Gallagher Got the Role of Number Five

Netflix’s Umbrella Academy is based on the comics by Gerard Way (of My Chemical Romance) and artist Gabriel Bá. The show is about a family of adoptees with superpowers who fight crime. But when their father figure dies, everything changes.

One of those adoptees is Number Five, a 58-year-old trapped in a 13-year-old’s body. He’s played by Aidan Gallagher, who’s perfect for the role.

Aidan Gallagher attends Netflix's 'Umbrella Academy' Screening
Aidan Gallagher | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Netflix

How ‘The Umbrella Academy’ the Netflix series came to be

Way actually first started thinking of the characters in The Umbrella Academy while he was backstage.

“I was reading Mike Mignola’s Hellboy,” he told Vulture in 2019. “I thought to myself, This is a horror comic, but it’s not a horror comic at all. And I thought there was nothing like that for superheroes. I started drawing these characters backstage.”

“You have so much time to kill on the road,” he continued. “Let’s say you’re playing at 8 o’clock at night. You’re just sitting there all day, so I just started drawing them. I wrote down a list of interests that I had — everything from seances, tarot cards, fortune tellers. Just all this stuff. And then I tried to make characters based off those interests.”

It was actually showrunner Steve Blackman‘s idea to make the characters a family.

“I’m not a graphic novel fan, but the graphic novel spoke to me,” he told the publication. “At the end of volume one, I knew every character and I knew who they were. And I read it instantly as a dysfunctional family. And then I talked to this guy [points at Way], and the rest is history.”

Who is Number Five?

When he was 13, Number Five became trapped in the future, where he stayed for over 40 years. By the time he returned home, his body had changed to that of a 13-year-old’s. So Number Five, though young in appearance, has the personality of a disgruntled 58-year-old man.

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Number Five is an exceptional killer. He’s known for being a highly skilled agent of the Temps Commission, where he killed countless people on various missions.

While Number Five may often be dismissive and sarcastic (and a ruthless killer), he cares a lot about his family. He goes out of his way to make sure they’re safe and works hard to prevent the apocalypse from happening.

How Aidan Gallagher got the role of Number Five in ‘The Umbrella Academy’

According to Blackman, casting the role of Number Five was, at first, quite difficult.

“We’d gone everywhere,” he said. “We had gone to the U.K., Australia, Canada, America. I’d seen over 320 kids.”

RELATED: ‘The Umbrella Academy’ Star Justin H. Min Says the Hargreeves Will Face an ‘Exact Replica of Themselves’ in Season 3

But as soon as Blackman saw Aidan Gallagher’s tape, he knew they had their guy.

“This tape pops on and the kid looks at the camera and goes, ‘I will kill for this role.’ That was Aidan,” said Blackman. “And he was great. He embodied the character. This 58-year-old man in a child’s body.”

Blackman says Gallagher brought a “sullenness” to the role.

“He came and nailed it every day,” he said. “The biggest moment of panic was when we were running out of casting time. I thought we were never gonna find this kid. Aidan Gallagher popped up and I’m like, ‘That’s him.’ I knew instantly.”

Season 2 of The The Umbrella Academy is now streaming on Netflix.