Ritu Arya Borrowed A Trick From Angelina Jolie To Prep For The Umbrella Academy

Ritu Arya gives an incredible performance as the thrill-seeking assassin Lila Pitts in "The Umbrella Academy." Lila's mischievous attitude, cynical worldview, and choppy bangs closely resemble Angelina Jolie's character in "Girl, Interrupted," and as it turns out, Jolie's preparation for her role influenced Arya's own process on the set of "Umbrella Academy."

At first glance, "Girl, Interrupted" might seem like an odd source of inspiration for Arya. "The Umbrella Academy" is a playful sci-fi series about time-traveling superheroes, while "Girl, Interrupted" is set in the woman's ward of a mental institution. In a conversation with Brief Take, Arya describes her "Umbrella Academy" character as "unhinged, playful, [and] unpredictable." This description also matches Jolie's "Girl, Interrupted" character, Lisa. These very traits are what initially drew Arya to her role. "I completely fell in love with [Lila] right away," she revealed.

The actress knew that a character as special as Lila would require a unique approach. "I did a lot of prep," Arya admitted. "I have a different process — I think — depending on whatever is the project." For this series, Arya researched artwork that might help her to get in touch with her character. She found that Egon Schiele's paintings aided her in understanding of Lila's mindset. "I had put them all over my trailer. They're really weird, physically, and they're quite out there and I think that helped me get into character," the actress recalled.

Lila is comfortable making others uncomfortable. This makes her edgy and exciting to watch, but also makes her difficult to play. Most people have a difficult time making others uneasy without feeling uneasy themselves. In order to flex this muscle, Arya took a page from Jolie's book and did something "ballsy."

She put porn around her trailer

To help her get into character for "The Umbrella Academy," Arya borrowed a technique from Angelina Jolie.

"I also heard this thing that Angelina Jolie did, when she was doing 'Girl, Interrupted'... that she put porn around her trailer. I did that. Not because I think of Lila being as much highly sexualized, but more that it felt like quite a ballsy thing to do and kind of bold. And having that around my trailer as well I think affected her."

This method helped Arya to be as fearless as her character, but it didn't help her make friends with the crew. "The costume dressers would come in and they didn't ever say anything about it. They just thought I was a massive perv," the actress laughed.

Jolie also alienated people on the set of "Girl, Interrupted" — although she took it a touch further than Arya. The actress reportedly gave the cold shoulder to her co-star Winona Ryder on set. "I think she needed to be able to look at me just as the character Susanna, not as Winona, so in a very respectful way she just kind of kept her distance," Ryder explained to Total Film (via Sydney Morning Herald).

Arya, on the other hand, prefers to build friendships with her co-stars despite playing an antagonist. "For me, [friendship] only helps create trust and freedom on the floor when you are doing the work," she told Brief Take.

Arya and Jolie's methods may have been strange, but their efforts were well worth it. Their performances are delightfully deranged in comedic scenes, while more dramatic scenes display their emotional range. Like Lisa, Lila is extremely troubled, but both Jolie and Arya clearly have a deep sympathy for their characters which allows them to bring incredible emotional depth to their roles.