'Umbrella Academy' Season 2: The Actor Who Plays Ben Wants Him to Stay Dead
If you’re a fan of The Umbrella Academy, you probably want answers about Ben, who’s mysterious death happens before the show begins and never gets explained. Maybe you’re hoping that in Season 2 his fate can be changed, , but as Umbrella Academy star Justin H. Min tells Inverse, he’s far more interested in continuing to explore his character’s current role as a ghost — even if that means almost no one else on the show knows he’s there.
“There is something special about Ben being dead and that sounds weird,” Min says, “but the fact that he has this special relationship with Klaus and the fact that Klaus is the only one who can see him. There’s still a lot to be explored, even with that, and the reason why Ben sticks around, and the motivations maybe behind why Klaus potentially can’t let Ben go.”
Warning: Spoilers for The Umbrella Academy Season 1 below.
So, while some fans, and one of Min’s co-stars, have speculated that time travel could bring Ben back to life — we see the entire Umbrella Academy revert to their younger selves before vanishing into time at the end of Season 1 — that might take away one of the most interesting things about his character and change his dynamic with the one person he could take to in Season 1.
Viewers have only really seen Ben’s relationship with Klaus after Number 6 passed away, due to his brother’s ability to commune with the dead, but Min believes they were close when Ben was alive as well.
“It escalated tenfold after he died and the fact that he’s still around is really important to him,” he says. “Though they bicker and fight and sass each other to no end, there is love underneath all that.”
"As we move forward, we continue to fully form who this person was.
Since the comic books don’t say much beyond Ben being a sibling who died, Min was able to work with showrunner Steve Blackman and comic creator Gerard Way to develop their own take on the character. They “created this character from the ground up … in terms of who this character would be and his dynamics with his other siblings and specifically his dynamic with Klaus and the history,” he says. “As we move forward, we continue to fully form who this person was.”
We haven’t seen much of Ben’s interactions with his siblings beyond Klaus. However, Min sees his character as “the lovable, kind, shy member of the family” who was “able to connect with a lot of them.”
“I think they’ve always looked out for him, primarily because he wasn’t that comfortable using his powers,” Min says. “There’s a reason why Five calls out for Vanya and Ben when he ends up being in the apocalypse. In a lot of ways, Ben held a very special place in a lot of the siblings’ hearts, which is why when he passes away, it’s one of the primary reasons why the family breaks up.”
"Ben is known as The Horror and yet he’s the farthest thing from that.
Min can’t say anything about what happened to Ben (it’s unclear what he might know). He can’t even share his theories about how Ben died or where he and his siblings end up after time traveling at the end of Season 1 to (again) try to stop the apocalypse. But he’s excited to explore both mysteries if the series is renewed.
“The most exciting thing about time travel is anything is possible,” he says. “The family can end up anywhere in the world, anywhere in time, so I’m so glad that’s how it ended, because it provides us with a square one almost … in terms of where the characters would end up.”
He does, however, speculate as to what may have happened if Ben had survived and Klaus wasn’t the only one who could interact with him? What would Season 1 have looked like? Min sees his character being “the voice of reason” for his siblings.
“I think he would’ve done whatever he could to help Vanya in that situation, as she’s going through all of that, and provide objective sound advice when need be,” he says. “I think he’s risk-averse as well, so he’d probably want to watch out for his family members and try to prevent anything crazy or dangerous happening.”
We saw a bit of that happening, even with Ben as a ghost, as Klaus’ powers grew throughout Season 1. We even see the monsters under Ben’s skin emerge to take out the agents from the Commission at the end of Season 1, but his abilities — and how he viewed them — has always been very different from his siblings.
“Ben is known as The Horror and yet he’s the farthest thing from that,” Min says. “He’s never truly been comfortable being this superhero like his siblings,” Min says. “I think Ben has always been unsure of himself because he could never fully control what these monsters did underneath his skin, so because of that, there’s a fear of the unknown as well as the fact that he’s always just wanted to be a normal kid with his family.”
Min hopes that the show will be renewed so it can explore this perspective, which he doubts would have changed even if Ben’s life wasn’t cut short.
“There is a certain aspect of Ben’s powers that is beyond any sort of training or practice,” he says. “When you’re dealing with interdimensional monsters who are manifesting themselves out of your body, there’s always this level of unpredictability. I think he could have gotten better, definitely, but I don’t know if he could have fully ever tamed the beast.”
The Umbrella Academy Season 1 is now streaming on Netflix.