The Transformation Of Robert Sheehan From Childhood To The Umbrella Academy

Warning: This article contains spoilers for "The Umbrella Academy" Seasons 1 and 2

At only 34, Robert Sheehan fosters an impressive list of credits under his belt. The Ireland-born and bred Sheehan has been acting since 2003, but his biggest role to date is as Klaus Hargreeves in the Netflix original series "The Umbrella Academy." The show is based on the comic book of the same name created by My Chemical Romance's lead singer Gerard Way. Klaus is known as Number Four (aka the Séance,) of the Hargreeves siblings, and is among 43 supernaturally-powered babies with special abilities. Eccentric, brash, and one of the most likable characters in "The Umbrella Academy," Klaus has become an ultimate fan favorite.

The second season of "The Umbrella Academy" premiered on July 31, 2020, boasting a 91% Certified Fresh Rotten Tomatoes rating. The last fans saw of Klaus was as a hippy cult leader in the 1960s, dealing with the tragic loss of his sibling Ben (Number Two) during the Vietnam War.

Throughout Sheehan's versatile career, he has starred in smaller indie films to big action-adventure blockbusters. Without a doubt, his role as Klaus Hargreeves has been his most coveted yet. Let's take a look into Sheehan's foray into acting and where his journey has led him now.

Robert Sheehan is the only actor in his family

Born on January 7, 1988 in Portlaoise, County Laois, Ireland (via Daily Hawker), the multi-talented and musically gifted Robert Sheehan has an interesting family background and is one of three siblings. His father, Joe Sheehan, was a former Garda member (the Republic of Ireland's police force). His mother, Maria Sheehan, encouraged him to audition for various plays and even became his manager for a time. According to The Guardian, Sheehan "is the first and only actor in his family; his sister Shauna, 'the brains of the operation', has a masters in international finance, while his brother Brendan, a semi-professional body builder, has twice been voted Mr. Ireland." From a young age, Sheehan was also very adept musically, playing the banjo, bodhrán, and the spoons (per TMDB). 

As a person, Sheehan is outspoken and marches to the beat of his own drum. As reported by Extra, he has been characterized as an eccentric person. He also isn't strict when it comes to defining his sexuality. In the public eye, he dated the actress Sofia Boutella for four years, but in a 2018 interview with Hot Press, he revealed that he had "...a couple of experiences when I was younger with dudes where I tried it, experimented, to see if it did anything for me. And it didn't."

Sheehan spends much of his time meditating when he isn't filming projects and tries to visit his native home of Portlaoise as much as he can (via Independent).

Sheehan starred in bigger television roles

Robert Sheehan's feature film debut was in "Song for a Raggy Boy" (via IMDb). Not long after, he had a notable theatrical appearance in Martin McDonagh's play "The Cripple of Inishmaan" (via the Leinster Express). His first television role was as Cormac MacNamara in the 2004 Australian series "Foreign Exchange," and a year later he starred in another show called "Young Blades."

In 2009, Sheehan landed the role of Nathan Young in the U.K.-based Channel 4 network fantasy comedy show "Misfits" which truly put him on peoples' radars. Sheehan's Nathan was an outlandish, loud-mouthed average human turned superhero who quickly became a popular character among fans. "Misfits" brought about a massive fanbase and even earned a few BAFTA awards (via BAFTA). According to the U.K. entertainment site Daily Express, fans were rather upset when Sheehan left the show in 2011, to which he replied, "It's nice that the show's successful but it doesn't mean complete blind and unadmonished loyalty, 'If something is very successful you should stick to it like a barnacle!' That's definitely not my thinking." 

In 2010, Sheehan starred in the Irish crime series "Love/Hate," centering on the seedy underbelly of the criminal gangs in Dublin. The show was vastly popular and The Guardian noted, "Love/Hate isn't just another gang drama but rather a detailed, dark portrayal of a city in crisis." In 2017, he joined Dennis Quaid in the Amazon Prime series "Fortitude" as Vladek Klimov, and the year after he played Carles Casagemas, who was a real-life friend of Pablo Picasso, in Season 2 of the National Geographic series "Genius." 

Sheehan advanced his career by starring in larger films

After dropping out of the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology in Galway, Ireland to pursue a degree studying television and film, Robert Sheehan landed a major role in the gritty 2009 teen film "Cherrybomb" (via Irish Times). He then landed his biggest undertaking yet as BJ in the murder mystery series "Red Riding: The Year of Our Lord," also starring Sean Bean, Andrew Garfield, and Michelle Dockery. This host of impressive acting roles would be the first of many that would launch Sheehan to stardom and prove his capacity as an experienced actor.

2011 was a huge movie year for Sheehan. He starred as Kay in the Nicolas Cage-led fantasy action film "The Season of the Witch," and was the second lead to Ben Barnes' Neil McCormick in the music-centered comedy "Killing Bono" as his brother, Ivan. In 2013, Sheehan landed a starring role as Simon in the blockbuster tentpole "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones," based on the teen fantasy novel series by Cassandra Clare. Unfortunately, the movie underperformed domestically, gathering $31,165,421 out of a $60 million budget (via Box Office Mojo).

After the less-than-promising debut of "The Mortal Instruments," Sheehan went back to indie films for a while. However, he did appear in two other blockbusters after — one being "Geostorm" in 2017 and the other "Mortal Engines" in 2018. Leading up to both of those movies, Sheehan starred in many lower-budget films, including: "The Road Within," "Moonwalkers," "The Messenger," "The Song of Sway Lake," and "Bad Samaritan." 

Sheehan got his career-defining role as Klaus in The Umbrella Academy

It can be said with certainty that Robert Sheehan was born to play Klaus Hargreeves. Klaus' fluid sexuality, silly humor, chaotic energy, and depth of heart very much feels like it could mirror Sheehan's own qualities. Throughout Season 1, Klaus struggles with alcoholism and drug dependency all the while dealing with his newfound ability to converse with the dead. Klaus' character was weirdly charming from the beginning and commonly misconstrued, yet, as Seventeen notes, "the love for him is elevated in the show's second season."

Season 2 features many iconic Klaus moments. A time-traveling Klaus goes back to the 1960s and becomes the accidental leader of a cult whom he wittingly calls "Destiny's Children." While the other Hargreeves siblings try their hardest to fit in to stop another impending apocalypse, Klaus does his own thing (as usual). He abandons his responsibility to his followers, places his focus elsewhere, and forges a special bond with his sibling, Vanya Hargreeves (Elliot Page). Klaus shows his support to Vanya and others in strange ways, but that's what makes Klaus who he is, and it's one of the many reasons why fans admire him despite his faults.

After the roaring praise of the first two seasons, Netflix has given a third season of "The Umbrella Academy" the green light. The series' showrunner Steve Blackman announced that there will be a face-off between the Umbrella Academy and the newly-minted Sparrow Academy (via IGN). And, of course, Klaus will return with more memorable one-liners and wild shenanigans with the premiere of Season 3 on June 22, 2022.