Even The Umbrella Academy Cast Was Kept In The Dark For Ben's Big Twist

Major productions have been known to hide script pages from actors in order to preserve twists and get the most genuine, spontaneous reaction from the cast. It's a tradition made famous by "Avengers" movies, but it dates at least all the way back to 1975, when the last page of a "M*A*S*H" season finale script was only revealed once shooting was about to wrap. The team behind Netflix's "The Umbrella Academy" continued the grand tradition of duping actors, only they kept the con going so long, one of their supposedly-dead leads actually started packing his bags.

The show's second season is a fun, dynamic romp through the 1960s that ends with the superhero Hargreeve siblings finally crashing back into the modern day. Only, once they get there, the team realizes they're still not in their own timeline. Just before the screen cuts to black, we see an emo-haired version of Ben (Justin H. Min), whose tragic death scene we just watched elsewhere an episode before. Only, this Ben has a scar, and those jagged bangs, and maybe he's not Ben after all? The cliffhanger introduces viewers to one of the previously unexplored major plot points of Gerard Way's "Umbrella Academy" graphic novels: the Sparrows.

A goodbye fake-out

As very alive Sparrow Ben, Min plays the head member of what appears to be an alternate reality version of the adult Hargreeves children. In an interview with Seventeen magazine, the actor revealed he shot his original character's afterlife transition scene without knowing he still had more to come:

"It was a very somber day on set. At that point, none of us had received the last few pages of episode 10. I actually thought that was my last scene. As Ben, I was saying goodbye to my family, but as Justin, I was also saying goodbye to my TV family and the show."

The actor says the "quiet, intimate scene" had him in tears, and that he even hugged the crew, assuming he wouldn't be working with them again. "You could hear a pin drop when we were reading those lines to each other because it was just an incredibly sad thing to shoot," he told the outlet.

It was only after Min started packing to leave the shooting location in Toronto that he "received a top secret email" with the last three pages of the season's script. Thank goodness he didn't have an away message set. Apparently, the message from the show's creator, Steve Blackman, detailed the fundamentals of this new version of Ben, who, like his ghostly version, doesn't initially appear by name in Way's comic series. Min's reaction was priceless: "I began screaming from the top of my lungs. I was gobsmacked."

This is kind of the show's M.O.

Despite his total shock at the show's plans to bring him back just a few scenes after he wrapped, Min says "The Umbrella Academy" has a history of tricky script reveals. He also told Seventeen he didn't even know what character he'd be playing in the show until the day before his first season one scene. "His description was just 'brother,' he said. "I begged the production team to tell me and they said, 'He's gonna be one of the Hargreeves.'" Min tried searching for clues about his role to no avail, but eventually Blackman clued him in about the creation of the Ben character. "I wasn't surprised when they left me in the dark [again]," he revealed. "It's something that I've become very accustomed to on this show."

The secrecy has paid off so far: both Ben's initial inclusion as a ghost tied to drug addict and medium Klaus' (Robert Sheehan) consciousness and his big return as the heard of the Sparrows have been well-received by fans of the series. Ghost Ben's snark is unmatched, but his sincere moments are powerful, too. As Sparrow Ben, with full use of his corporeal form and evil twin ethos, there's no telling what the long lost Hargreeve sibling will get up to. Literally–the script pages we'd use to tell you are probably locked in a vault somewhere.

"The Umbrella Academy" will return for its third season on June 22, 2022.