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Tom Hopper's Luther Transformation Doesn't Take As Long As You Think

Becoming a superhero usually involves a difficult early life, possibly the loss of some family members, a moment of awakening, and a power-instilling incident. Turning an actor into a superhero is also a grueling process. It often requires long hours in the gym (that's how the cast got ripped for Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame), and once you get on set, you could be dealing with an interesting wardrobe situation (it's not uncommon for actors to despise their superhero costumes).

Tom Hopper went through both to become The Umbrella Academy's Luther, a man with a mysterious origin story and a certain amount of ape DNA that have combined to give him a very bulky, very hairy upper body and arms. As Hopper put it during a conversation on Netflix's podcast Behind the Scenes, "That guy's got muscles that no human's got." 

Fortunately for Hopper, the Umbrella Academy wardrobe department figured out a way to get him those muscles with no gym membership necessary — if only they'd shared that information with Hopper a little sooner. Here's why Tom Hopper's Luther transformation doesn't take as long as you think — sometimes — and what's really going on under those sweaters.

Tom Hopper's transformation process varied depending on the scene

The process of turning Hopper into Luther depended on what was going on in the scene. When Luther's top half (including his hands) was clothed, Hopper was in for a relatively easy time in the makeup and wardrobe departments — which is why Luther favors long sleeves and gloves.

Hopper explained on the Behind the Scenes podcast, "The big bulk of it on the torso is all one suit." That meant, as he told SYFY Wire in a separate interview, that he could just put on the muscle suit and zip it up: "That was a two-minute job." It's like one of those Halloween costumes with built-in muscles, but professional-grade. The not-so-fun part? It was very hot. But Hopper made the best of it, telling Behind the Scenes, "This guy I was portraying was uncomfortable. And every day I put that on, it was like I put Luther on."

The tricky bit is when we see Luther's hands or neck, and especially his chest and arms. These were all made from separate pieces and required painstaking painting and gluing — and Hopper couldn't sit down for any of it, because he'd run the risk of tearing the prosthetics.

Luther's face also sometimes required extra work. When he was on the Moon, Luther understandably gave up shaving (no Allison there to impress), and for Hopper, that meant more gluing — this time of fake hair. Additionally, facial injuries for Luther meant yet more time in makeup. Speaking about The Umbrella Academy season 2 to Behind the Scenes, Hopper said, "I had all the beat-up makeup as well, which was a big facial prosthetic ... You're talking about sometime in between two and a half, three hours to get [all the prosthetics and makeup] on."

Tom Hopper bulked up for The Umbrella Academy season 1 — unnecessarily

If you can't resist reading up on, say, how Kumail Nanjiani got ripped for The Eternals, you already know that signing up to be a superhero means building muscle. Tom Hopper thought so too, so when he landed the role of super-bulky Luther, he hit the gym.

As Hopper told Behind the Scenes, he was already into working out prior to landing the Umbrella Academy gig, but he took that passion to the next level for Luther. He said that showrunner Steve Blackman decided early on that Luther wouldn't be as big as the comic book character he was based on, who's actually a human head on a fully ape body. Still, Blackman and Umbrella Academy pilot episode director Peter Hall wanted Hopper to put on as much of Luther's still-improbable muscle as he could.

"I went to town on the weights ... I was eating so much food to get as big as I could," Hopper said. (In case you were wondering, he added, "I'm a big health freak so I don't take any kind of chemical things.") As the actor shared, his diet consistent of a lot of vegetables, and "more sweet potato [than] I think anyone has eaten ever in history."

By the time he arrived in Toronto (where season 1 of The Umbrella Academy filmed), Hopper had, as he said, "ballooned." At that point, Blackman told him they'd decided to use a suit instead. "I was like, 'Right. Oh, oh, sure,'" Hopper said — "sure" being British for a certain four-letter word.

Although you probably didn't notice thanks to all the prosthetics, Hopper said he slimmed down for the second season of The Umbrella Academy — but many viewers were still taken in by Luther's physically impossible physique. "So many people ask me if that was my real body," he told Behind the Scenes. "It was hilarious."