New York Comic Con is getting in the Halloween spirit. The Netflix & Chills panel summoned Umbrella Academy stars Ellen Page, Mary J. Blige, Robert Sheehan, Emmy Raver-Lampman, David Castañeda, Aidan Gallagher and Cameron Britton; The Haunting of Hill House stars Michiel Huisman, Elizabeth Reaser, Kate Siegel, Henry Thomas, Oliver Jackson-Cohen and Victoria Pedretti; The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance producer Lisa Henson and director Louis Leterrier; and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and stars Kiernan Shipka, Miranda Otto, Lucy Davis, Ross Lynch, Michelle Gomez and Chance Perdomo.
The panel kicked off with a trailer of Umbrella Academy.
“He works as a time-travelling assassin but he still finds no magic in that,” Britton said of his character.
“One word to describe my character is evil. Just evil, evil, evil. She’s just an empty, evil character,” Blige shared.
“Chaos is a good word. He’s kind of like a swirling Tasmanian devil of a character. He doesn’t know which end is up,” Sheehan revealed.
“Calculated. Calculated chaos,” Gallagher said of his character.
“I play Number One… and this is my second New York Comic Con. One word to describe my Luther… Pressured,” Hopper explained.
“There’s one word that’s been being used out there, and it’s bitter… and he’s not bitter. He’s just mean,” Castañeda shared.
“One word is tricky, so I would say she’s guilt-ridden. She’s got a lot of guilt,” Raver-Lampman shared.
“I play Vayna… and Vayna, I would certainty say, it anxious,” Page said.
“I mean, this is a dream role for anybody… when you explain it to people who are not fans… they don’t get it,” Gallagher shared. “You guys are going to be blown away. I think we do a good job of honoring the comics, but we’ve got some interesting stuff for you.”
“Because it’s 10 hours of footage, [the characters] have gotten more complex and more well-rounded,” Britton said.
“You have to take liberties. You have to spash some of your originality into the soup… otherwise you’re just recreating something in a different form, but fuck that,” Sheehan explained.
“I’ve always wanted to be the superhero or super-villain,” Blige shared. “I wanted to learn how to shoot a gun and do martial arts. It was perfect, yeah. Oh, I picked up some skills, yes.”
“There’s many an email chain about all of us having very unique dancing styles. A lot of YouTube videos shared,” Raver-Lampman revealed.
“The first thing I did was my part of the dance montage, and I was shitting a giant brick because it was my first day filming,” Sheehan recalled.
“Vayna Hargraves plays the violin. She’s very, very, very, very excellent at it. I am not,” Page said with a laugh. “This posed a challenge that I was excited to accept, and kudos to anyone who plays the violin, because holding the goddamn thing is so damn hard. My ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’ is close to perfect!”
“I thought it was like a physical thing, because the comics are very inspirational. You see his piercing eyes and the way he holds himself,” Gallagher shared. “I found myself drawing on this mentality… I try to portray that maturity through a 58-year-old’s mindset.”
“You know what’s weird about this role is that my whole career I’ve always been told, ‘Don’t get too big! You won’t get cast,’” Hopper recalled. “I could not get big enough for this role. You’ll see as this show comes out that there was no way I could have gymed enough or taken enough steroids to get where I needed to get to.”
“I think, for me, the work was the same. The finding your intentions and playing the scene and being in the moment and the acting part of it. The thing that’s the biggest difference for me is the scale,” Raver-Lampman said, comparing the role to her time on stage as a member of Hamilton. “The camera is maybe an inch from your face and you have to do a lot less.”
They then announced the release date for Umbrella Academy as February 15, 2019.
Following a trailer for The Haunting of Hill House, the cast of the show took the stage.
“Nell always does her best. She loves her family very much,” Pedretti said of her character.
“I play Luke Crane, who is the youngest of the Crane family. He has a twin. He is Nell’s twin. Out of all the kids, the twins probably experience some of the most traumatic stuff inside the house as children,” Jackson-Cohen said. “As an adult, both of them are struggle to function in life and Luke has developed an opoid addition that he’s battling throughout the show.
“I play Theodore Crane, who is described as a clenched fist with hair,” Siegel shared.
“I play Hugh Crane, who is the father of the Crane family, who is convinced he can buy a mansion and flip it in the same summer,” Thomas revealed.
“Olivia is the matriarch of this family and she’s an architect and she and her husband go to this house to try to flip it… she is desperately trying to save her children from the horrors of this world,” Gugino shared. “She’s one of the most amazing characters I’ve gotten to play.”
“I play Shirley Crane, who is a mortician and is slightly perfectionist and tough, according to certain members of the family, but also quite vulnerable,” Reaser said.
“I play Stephen, the oldest of the Crane siblings. I wanted to be a writer, but never managed to get my career going until I wrote about the Hill House,” Huisman said, adding that this leads to conflict with his siblings.
“The whole show, present day show, only takes place over 4 or 5 days. There’s an event that happens in the first episode which causes this massive shift in the family,” Jackson-Cohen explained. “There was a period of time… where we were either going to a funeral… it was just the amount of stuff we had to draw from. We had this emotional hangover.”
“There’s such a massive payoff at the end of the show, which is inherently terrifying,” he said.
Gugino said the show draws influence from Alfred Hitchcock.
“The stroy plays out over two timelines… this is the adult sibling cast, and there are mini-mes for everyone,” Thomas explained. “it was very important, because the timelines are important. As an actor in an ensemble, you need to know where your character is in that timeline so you don’t drop the ball.”
“[Episode] 1.06 was very special. We did it in four shots… everybody worked very hard. It’s a very special episode of The Haunting,” Siegel revealed.
After a brief featurette with a clip from a Jim Henson interview, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, producer Lisa Henson and director Louis Leterrier walked on the stage. “It is a truly extraordinary film and we’ve been wanting to make a sequel or a spinoff for a very long time,” Henson said. “We just wrapped… we literally wrapped a week ago… It’s the true come true to bring Dark Crystal to life with puppets for 10 hours. It’s incredible.”
“I came to see Lisa as a fan. I guess you should all do this,” Leterrier shared. “We tried to do a few things, but that was seven years ago! We’ve been developing this project for seven years. We eventually found exciting partners in Netflix. Like Jim Henson said in the clip you saw, it was his hardest ask and biggest achievement… It took us one year to film this… It’s a work of love, a work of art, and we can’t wait to share it with you.”
“I love CGI, but we’re not using CGI in this one,” he added. “It’s puppets, man! It’s all puppets. We’re Henson… the thing that really change is being able to race puppeteers. We can do more… a different type of puppeteering. Action-oriented puppeteering.”
“It’s actually really old technology: green screen. We’re removing puppeteers… even though it’s an old technique,” Henson continued. “If you take the puppeteers out, they’re still being moved… There were a lot of pupeteers on these characters. We have no human cast to join us up here, because we have no humans on the show… I think everyone worked on our show. It was a massive endeavour.”
“It’s a prequel. In the original movie, Jen and Kira stop at the Wall of Destiny and they see the ruins… we took that as our jumping off point for the whole series. What was that culture? What was lost?” Henson posed. “It’s very developed. We have a big canvas… It’s rich! It’s extremely rich. We took as our inspiration shows like Last Airbender, Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings. Shows that have a lot of depth, a lot of detail built into the world-building.”
“We need to serve old fans,” Leterrier said. “We need to create new fans… Kids these days haven’t seen puppets… It’s multi-generational, but it brings in everything you know about the Dark Crystal.” He revealed Brian Froud and Toby Froud will work on the series to maintain the consistency in look and tone.
Following a trailer for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, the cast took the stage. “Well, I think, at the begining, knowing that Roberto created Riverdale and Riverdale has such awesome, cool fans, I knew people were going to love it… but it’s been so cool, because we’re still filming. It hasn’t even come out yet. The amount of fan accounts that have popped up, the cosplay… it’s mindblowing,” Shipka shared. “It makes those Friday night shoots where you’re wrapping at 7 in the morning easy to get through because we have the most awesome fans already and we haven’t even aired yet.”
“It’s fun being a controlling aunt,” Otto said. She said her favorite part of the scripts were the violent acts Zelda performs.
“Harvey is Sabrina’s boyfriend. The Kinkle family is a mining family, and they’ve been in Greendale for generations,” Lynch shared.
“The thing is is that the scripts that we have… gives us this rich and incredible world,” Gomez said. “It was a real stretch to play Madame Satan, which I’m still having challenges with, but the real challenge is to make her not just evil… I’m sort of enjoying the backstory of that, which will be revealed along the way. Everything we’re doing is going to be based on something.” She said her character will “thrill and terrify.”
“Well, that’s he’s such an old soul in a young man’s body. He’s quite tortured,” Perdomo shared. “He’s the Alfred to Sabrina’s Batman. The great thing about Netflix is they’re pushing forward these new narratives you’ve never seen before. Ambrose is pansexual and a person of color… it’s personally and artistically gratifying to play.”
Asked about a possible crossover with Riverdale, Aguirre-Sacasa said, “I’m, first and foremost, a fan of these two towns: Riverdale and Greendale. I love when comic books cross over, so it’s a dream. Right now, we’re focused on getting Sabrina out there and making Riverdale as good as it can be.”
“Oh my gosh! It’s so funny, because I feel like the 90s sitcom Salem is so iconic. He’s a meme! He’s sassy Salem! We did something different. We have three cats playing Salem,” Shipka said. She then cued the Sabrina to play.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina stars Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina Spellman, Michelle Gomez as Mary Wardwell/Madam Satan, Jaz Sinclair as Rosalind Walker, Chance Perdomo as Ambrose Spellman, Lucy Davis as Hilda Spellman, Miranda Otto as Zelda Spellman, Ross Lynch as Harvey Kinkle and Richard Coyle as Father Blackwood. The series premieres Oct. 26 on Netflix.
Produced by Gerard Way, Steve Blackman, Mike Richardson and Keith Goldberg, The Umbrella Academy does not have a release date but is expected to launch sometime in 2018.
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance will be directed by Louis Leterrier with scripts led by co-executive producers Jeffrey Addiss, Will Matthews and Javier Grillo-Marxuach.
Michiel Huisman joins Carla Gugino, Henry Thomas, Timothy Hutton and Elisabeth Reaser in The Haunting of Hill House, which arrives Oct. 12 on Netflix.