Meet Ritu Arya, Who Plays Lila Pitts on ‘The Umbrella Academy’ Season 2

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This article contains major spoilers for The Umbrella Academy Season Two.

When a show returns for a follow-up season, few are tuning in to check out the new characters—most of us just want to be reunited with the folks we already know and love. And in its super-powered Hargreeves siblings and their foes, Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy introduced viewers to some of the of funniest and most memorable characters currently on TV. So it was hard to imagine that the show could make room for more major players who could leave as strong of an impression as characters like Klaus, Hazel, and The Handler.

But from within minutes of Lila Pitts, played by actor Ritu Arya, appearing in the series’ second season, it’s hard to imagine The Umbrella Academy without her. She isn’t just your standard quip-filled love interest (though the character is pretty much irresistible from the moment she calls Diego “an open book written for very dumb children”). Lila’s smart, hilarious—and she’s got some big secrets. First of all, she’s the adoptive daughter of The Handler, Grey’s Anatomy star Kate Walsh’s gloriously malevolent middle manager of time traveling assassins. And the season finale reveals that, like the Hargreeves kids, she was one of the 43 super-powered babies mysteriously born on October 1, 1989.

At the end of the season, Lila grabs one of the commission’s time machine briefcases and disappears for parts and eras unknown. But luckily, we were able to catch up with Arya, a musician and actor who’s appeared in British TV series like Feel Good and Doctor Who, and learn more about Umbrella Academy‘s scene-stealing new addition.

Had you watched the show before you auditioned? Did you know what you were getting into?

I had actually never heard of the show, and then I looked it up before the audition, and I was like, “This is awesome. I want in.”

How did you prepare to work on the series?

I watched it all, I read the comics, and I kind of felt like I got the vibe. I had a lot of training even before coming to Toronto, where we’re filming. And then throughout, I was just like fighting three times a week. I had never done anything like that before—I’d never done any sort of stunts or gun training.

Ritu Arya

JSquared Photography

What’s that like? How do you go from a person who’s never done stunts to doing roundhouse kicks?

I can’t believe I learned how to do that. Basically, they have this really amazing trainer that they set us up with, Tommy Chang. I remember in that first week, I had a few sessions with him, and I pulled a muscle right away—I pushed myself way too far. I remember having to go to the physio, and then I think I also had to go to the doctor’s as well. And it was all in the first week, and I didn’t have anywhere to stay yet. I was in a hotel, I was going to house viewings, and it was all just so insane. And we had some amazing stuntwomen too, as well. So the things we couldn’t do, they would take over and make us look really cool and badass.

How much did you know of the plot initially? Lila has so many big reveals.

When I had the audition come through, I think I only thought Lila was in one episode or something. And then when I had a meeting with Steve [Blackman], the showrunner, he told me more about her. He said that she has a sort of love story relationship with Diego, she’s The Handler’s daughter. And I don’t even know if they told me about the super powers until I had the job.

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I can’t even remember, because it wasn’t even about that stuff. It was just her that I fell in love with. I loved her mannerisms, her freedom, and her uninhibited nature. She was so sort of sneaky, and playful, and sort of in her own world. And then when they said, “Oh, she’s in the whole series, and also, she’s one of the siblings,” I was like, “Oh, that’s pretty cool.”

What was it like for Lila to grow up with The Handler as her mom?

Her whole life, The Handler was training her to become one of the best assassins that existed, so it was all training, and I think it was a pretty lonely upbringing, to be honest. At least with the Umbrella Academy, they had each other, whereas Lila’s been on her own.

the umbrella academy

Kate Walsh as The Handler.

Courtesy of Netflix

Is having similar childhoods something that makes Lila and Diego a good match?

Interesting. I don’t know about it being a good or bad match, to be honest. All I know is that she was the only person in Lila’s life. She’s the only person that she trusts, and she just wants to make her proud. I think she raised Lila with some real tough love, and I think that’s what made her the way she is. But like any kind of mother-daughter relationship, she will make fun of her mum, or not really understand her mum and can get pissed off. But she loves her.

The big final fight, where we see her using all of the powers, is just so awesome. But if she had to have just one of those abilities, is there one you’d pick?

I’m a really big fan of Allison’s powers, because, I mean, life would be really fun if you could just rumor everyone to do whatever you wanted. But I think Lila has the best power—she can emulate anyone else’s power.

I was re-watching some of the earlier episodes, and there’s that fight scene with Lila and Five. It looks like she uses his powers then, even though we don’t learn how for another five episodes. Is that right?

Yeah, she does. I was concerned about watching back, because I really don’t want it to be too obvious. Did you clock that she was using powers?

the umbrella academy l to r robert sheehan as klaus hargreeves, justin h min as ben hargreeves, aidan gallagher as number five, ellen page as vanya hargreeves, tom hopper as luther hargreeves, david castaÑeda as diego hargreeves and emmy raver lampman as allison hargreeves in episode 201 of the umbrella academy cr christos kalohoridisnetflix © 2020

CHRISTOS KALOHORIDIS/NETFLIX

No, only the second time I watched the season.

I think that was the hope for my performance as well, that you wouldn’t know anything that first time, but when you watched it the second time, you would see those moments. And that’s how I felt the second time I watched the series. They kept in a few little bits that you would be like, “Of course, she’s lying.” Or, “How did I not see this before?”

Lila definitely feels like a woman of today in a way that just seems a little out of step with the 1960s.

Well, she’s been an assassin with the commission and traveled to so many different periods in time, so she’s got a universal sort of manner, I think. So, I kind of just went contemporary, really.

What is it like for her to realize that the person she thought was her mother actually had her birth parents killed?

It’s the most crushing thing to ever find out. All she’s ever known is the love and trust of her mum, and in those last few episodes, she is kind of getting worried about her mum’s addiction to power and where her intentions are lying. But even when they’re all saying, “She doesn’t love you. She’s using you. You’re one of us,” she doesn’t take that. Lila still asks her mum, “Do you actually love me? I need to hear it from you.” Because she so badly wants to hold onto what she’s known, because she has not had any kind of security in her life.

Where does she go in the end when she takes the briefcase?

That, nobody knows, and nobody shall know. Yeah, that’s a secret.

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