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Why the Swedes from Umbrella Academy season 2 look so familiar

Contains spoilers for The Umbrella Academy season 2

The recently released sophomore season of The Umbrella Academy is a fantastic example of a streaming series taking everything that worked with its first season and throwing it all in a pot with a bunch of delicious new things that work at least as well if not even better. New stakes and a new setting set up the season 2 action, and new faces add a ton of dynamism to the show about a family of super-powered siblings working to save the world from an impending apocalypse. Among those new faces are a trio of Scandinavian brothers known as the Swedes, who effectively replace the Commission assassins Hazel (Cameron Britton) and Cha-Cha (Mary J. Blige) as the murderous, gun-toting antagonists of the season.

However, where Hazel (who's actually still around on The Umbrella Academy season 2, just as an elderly version of himself) and Cha-Cha evolved into full characters with plenty more to them than mere gunfire on season 1, Oscar, Axel, and Otto are mostly happy to remain the ruthless killers their predecessors started out as. Instead of wearing creepy animal masks over their faces like Hazel and Cha-Cha did, the Swedes sport expressionless visages, worryingly blond hair, and, in Oscar's case, a blood-splattered milkman uniform. The end result is so effective that if given the choice, we'd probably take our chances with the pair of mask-wearing weirdos.

The Viking Terminators' faces are largely impassive and often obscured by muzzle flash and ominous lighting, but even so, we can't help but wonder where we've seen them before. Here's why the Swedes from The Umbrella Academy season 2 look so familiar.

Kris Holden-Ried has starred on dramas of all sorts

Canadian actor Kris Holden-Ried plays the Swedes' leader Axel, and he's one of those guys who has been in pretty much everything. Holden-Ried has been acting since 1995, and has also been billed under different variations of his name, so spotting his early work in the wild can be a healthy challenge. 

In 2001, a robust few years of TV movies and one-off characters on various shows netted Holden-Ried a stint as Simon on the famed Canadian soap Paradise Falls. He also scored a role on the teen drama Degrassi: The Next Generation, where he played Tracker Cameron, the older brother of bad boy Sean (Daniel Clark). His next major role came in 2007, when he played Sir William Compton — the low-born, closeted friend of King Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) — on the Michael Hirst-created historical fiction drama The Tudors.

As time went by and Holden-Ried's profile rose, it was eventually time for even bigger opportunities. One arrived in 2010, when he landed a starring role on Lost Girl, a supernatural drama about a succubus named Bo Dennis (Anna Silk) who uncovers the secrets of the Fae world with the help of Holden-Ried's werewolf detective Dyson Thornwood. The gig kept him busy until 2015 — but not too busy to voice the titular character of the 2013 web series Captain Canuck.

Kris Holden-Ried has also played a Viking, a Belter, and an Arrowverse antagonist

After Lost Girl ended, Holden-Ried kept busy on various shows and in TV movies, and his profile started shifting toward roles as villainous and ominous characters. 

Around 2017, opportunities to appear on some of the most popular (and even iconic) shows at the time started flying his way. First, Holden-Ried had a two-episode role on Arrow as Nylander, an old ally of Slade "Deathstroke" Wilson (Manu Bennett). Then, he joined the cast of History Channel's Vikings as the confrontational warrior Eyvind — who followed Floki (Gustav Skarsgård) to Iceland, started causing trouble, and ultimately met his fate at the hands of Kjetill Flatnose (Haven's Adam Copeland).

Before The Umbrella Academy, Holden-Ried also found the time to travel to the mysterious planet Ilus on the fourth season of Amazon Prime Video's sci-fi gem The Expanse. His character Coop was a leader of the Belter folk, and after plenty of tension, he was killed by the Royal Charter Energy security chief Adolphus Murphy (Game of Thrones' Burn Gorman). 

It looks like the actor's got plenty of worked lined up for the future as well. At the time of writing, Holden-Ried's set to appear in no less than three projects. He's the star of director Carlo Liconti's period drama Bordello, as well as the leading man of Cicada 3301 from writer-director Alan Ritchson (whom you may recognize as Hank Hall/Hawk from Titans). Perhaps most interestingly, Holden-Ried will also appear in the upcoming thriller Maternal, which will see him starring opposite The Umbrella Academy's Sir Reginald Hargreeves himself, Colm Feore.

Jason Bryden is a prolific comedian and voice actor

If comedians are often great at serious roles, how good would a comedian and a voice actor be in a mostly silent and serious role? Just ask Jason Bryden, who owns the part of Otto, the beefiest and angriest of The Umbrella Academy's Swedes. Bryden makes Otto genuinely threatening, yet punctures the character's gruffness with the occasional hint of comic relief. This is no surprise, since Bryden has played a vast array of roles over his 20-year career. 

Bryden spent his first years performing in small roles, occasionally popping up on high-profile shows. He played Camden McCallum Jr. on the pilot episode of the USA Network comedy-drama Psych, and held minor goon-character roles on Battlestar Galactica and Stargate SG-1. As his star grew, Bryden's one-offs became more prominent. In 2011, he played a fictional version of assistant director Kevin Parks on Supernatural. Four years later 2015, he portrayed Reverend Shore on "The Local Option," a temperanc-league-themed episode of the CBC period crime drama Murdoch Mysteries. And in 2016, Bryden turned up as Andy on the "Back on the Map" episode of the USA Network drama Suits

The actor scored his first recurring TV role amid these bit parts — in 2010, when he starred as Mr. Jazz on the teacher sitcom The Staff Room, opposite Olivia Cheng (Marco Polo). In 2011, Bryden followed suit with another major comedic role on The Acting Class, which also featured his Staff Room cast mate Irene Karas Loeper (The L Word, Fringe). The two also starred together on the 2016 comedy series Sport Talk Radio.

Bryden's resume doesn't end there, as he also has voice-acting credits in a variety projects. He started this branch of his career in 2005, when he voiced Venom in Electronic Arts' fighting game Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects. Since then, Bryden has lent his vocal talents to 2013's Splinter Cell: Blacklist, 2018's Far Cry 5, and some animated shows like Animism and Dinosaur Train.

Tom Sinclair played Private Matheson in 21 Brothers

Our Swedish trio is rounded out by Oscar, the shortest member of the team. Early on during The Umbrella Academy season 2, Oscar acquires a milkman costume, which gives him one of the creepiest and most iconic looks of the new batch of episodes. Unfortunately, he's also – spoiler alert! — the first brother to die when a tripwire trap blows him away, leaving only a single leg standing. Still, at least the leg gets a cool Viking funeral.

Oscar's stony face and professional manner might seem familiar, but his actor, Tom Sinclair, is easily the least known of the bunch. In fact, Sinclair's only role before The Umbrella Academy was in 2011, when he played Private Matheson in 21 Brothers, a World War I drama about a battalion of Canadian soldiers preparing for the Battle of Courcelette. According to Kingston Herald, Sinclair is the son of Gord Sinclair, who played bass in the Canadian rock group The Tragically Hip. Seeing as the younger Sinclair composed some of the music for 21 Brothers, he seems to have inherited his father's talents. 

It's probably fair to say that thanks to his newfound The Umbrella Academy notoriety, Sinclair will likely get plenty more acting credits in the future if he wants them. He's already working on a thriller called Serpentine, which seems to be a true labor of love: Apart from starring in it, he's also listed as an executive producer, the composer, the creator, and the head writer. 

The Umbrella Academy season 2 is streaming on Netflix now.