The Umbrella Academy’s Justin H. Min Is Having a Breakout Yr, and He is Simply Getting Began


For nearly eight months, Justin H. Min needed to suppose like a dickhead. That is how lengthy it took to movie Season 3 of The Umbrella Academy, through which Min portrays a wholly new Ben Hargreeves. Lengthy gone is the type, light — and lifeless — Ben from the Netflix present’s first two seasons. As a substitute, its third installment encompasses a snobbish Ben who could be very a lot alive. For Min, taking part in a virtually direct reverse model of his tentacles-summoning character was a enjoyable problem. “It was exhausting, although, to be on this darker headspace,” Min informed TV Information. That is seemingly as a result of, in actuality, the actor is much less a dickhead and, within the phrases of castmate David Castañeda, extra a “little marshmallow.” 

This turned apparent within the half-hour I spent speaking to the actor forward of The Umbrella Academy‘s Season 3 premiere. He repeatedly addressed me by title and made our dialog really feel extra like pleasant chat than a inflexible interview. And once I sheepishly informed him I dropped his latest favourite Okay-drama, Begin-Up, as a result of I turned too pissed off with the plotline (justice for Han Ji-pyeong!), Min laughed, “OK, however the grandma, she’s the MVP.”

This 12 months marks a decade since Min began performing, and it is a huge one for him. Season 3 of The Umbrella Academy, which was launched on June 22, provides him an expanded function because the now-living Ben. However Min additionally had a buzzy first quarter of the 12 months because of his function in After Yang, Kogonada’s quietly provocative, visually beautiful movie, launched in March. In his first characteristic movie efficiency, Min performed the titular humanoid robotic who helps an adopted daughter join together with her Chinese language heritage. Up subsequent, Min is starring within the upcoming Netflix dramedy Beef which options Steven Yeun, Ali Wong, and his cousin Ashley Park. And in our dialog the actor teased he’ll quickly start filming for an additional mission that is but to be introduced. 

Justin H. Min

Justin H. Min

Getty Pictures

Min credit The Umbrella Academy with opening doorways in his profession, and the third season spotlights his efficiency much more. Within the new episodes, the Umbrellas return to a really totally different 2019. Their house is now the residence of the Sparrow Academy as a result of Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) determined to undertake a brand new group of kids after assembly the Umbrellas within the Nineteen Sixties. Ben is Quantity Two among the many Sparrows and desperately needs to develop into Quantity One — the chief of the group. To Min, there are clear causes behind his character’s hostility. “Anybody who’s indignant or possibly seen by the surface world as an asshole — or because the Umbrellas wish to name him, a dickhead — I feel these persons are sadly the folks which can be hurting essentially the most inside,” Min stated. “I really feel like Sparrow Ben is a extremely lonely, insecure one that’s simply looking for a way of belonging.”

It is a search that Min thinks is common, and one he personally pertains to. “As an Asian American, it is one thing that I am confronted with nearly each day: The place do I slot in, on this place in America?” he stated. Min, who was born and raised in Cerritos, California, has been vocal about how his Korean American id has formed him as an actor. A lot of Ben’s journey is tied to making an attempt to earn recognition from Hargreeves by way of being a superb Sparrow. I informed Min that whereas watching his character, I could not assist however consider Asian children, myself included, searching for mother and father’ approval — and the way it’s usually an uphill battle as a result of in our cultures, phrases of affirmation or phrases like “I am happy with you” are extra uncommon. Min connects with this evaluation. “The way in which that we had been in a position to present our like to our mother and father was by way of our accomplishments,” he stated. “In the identical method, I feel Ben — though he isn’t rising up in an Asian family — there’s nonetheless that sense of, how do I show myself to my dad? How do I present him that I am worthy?” Min stated. “And it is by excelling at what he is asking me to do.” 

Justin H. Min, Britne Oldford, The Umbrella Academy

Justin H. Min, Britne Oldford, The Umbrella Academy


Min has at all times liked listening to folks’s tales — and sharing them. Earlier than he began performing, he traveled with numerous worldwide growth organizations to doc their work. (The actor just lately turned a UNICEF ambassador, which he described as a “actual full-circle second.”) This turned his impetus to enter journalism, and he wrote for a number of native magazines after graduating from Cornell College. However after studying that it might take 5 to eight years earlier than he’d be ready to pitch tales he was enthusiastic about, Min determined to vary paths. “I am an especially impatient individual, so I wasn’t certain if I might write about eight extra lobster festivals earlier than I used to be in a position to pitch one thing that I needed to jot down about,” he beforehand informed GQ

He moved from New York again to Los Angeles and performed small roles in broadcast and cable dramas earlier than starring in Wong Fu Productions’ brief movie How I Turned an Grownup in 2017 and the online sequence Relationship After Schoolin 2019. The Umbrella Academy premiered that very same 12 months. Min landed a recurring function within the first season as Ben, aka Quantity Six, the lifeless Hargreeves sibling seen solely to his spirit-conjuring brother Klaus (Robert Sheehan). He joined the primary forged in Season 2. 

“I used to be simply going from job to job and paycheck to paycheck, hopefully cobbling sufficient to get by and pay for hire,” Min informed TV Information of his life earlier than reserving The Umbrella Academy. The present afforded him a way of economic safety, and now he is in a position to be extra selective in his tasks.“I haven’t got to work now only for the sake of working,” he shared. “I can really select issues that I feel are essential and resonate with me on an emotional degree.”

When The Umbrella Academy premiered, Min’s inbox was flooded with messages from Asian American mother and father and children, who wrote to him about how highly effective it was to see his character on the display. Asian characters in superhero movies and sequence have been nearly nonexistent (although latest Marvel tasks like Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Ms. Marvel are an indication of progress), and Ben’s presence was important to many. Studying messages from followers, the actor was reminded of his personal expertise rising up. “After I first noticed The Pleasure Luck Membership it was like, oh, that is so bizarre and wonderful that there is really individuals who appear to be me on this film who share a whole lot of related experiences that I do,” he recalled. It related for Min then: The Umbrella Academy is to many what The Pleasure Luck Membership was to him.

The actor has advocated for extra illustration behind the digital camera, too. In 2020, Min despatched an e mail to The Umbrella Academy crew calling for higher range throughout departments, from manufacturing to hair and make-up. Protests in opposition to police brutality and racial injustice had unfold throughout the U.S., and Min thought exhausting about what he might do in his sphere of affect. “I used to be, to be sincere, scared to ship that e mail at first,” he recalled. However the e mail was obtained properly by showrunner Steve Blackman and the sequence’ producers. “We instantly had numerous Zoom calls to speak about how we might try this,” Min stated. “And Season 3 was essentially the most various it has ever been each in entrance [of] and behind the digital camera, so I am very, very grateful.”  

Genesis Rodriguez, Cazzie David, Justin H. Min, Jake Epstein, Britne Oldford, The Umbrella Academy

Genesis Rodriguez, Cazzie David, Justin H. Min, Jake Epstein, Britne Oldford, The Umbrella Academy


Because the push for a extra inclusive Hollywood continues, the globalization of streaming platforms like Netflix is prompting worldwide audiences to eat extra tales about totally different cultures and backgrounds. Living proof: the booming reputation of Korean dramas. When Min was rising up, a Okay-drama was nearly at all times taking part in on the tv. “My mother and father had been obsessive about Korean dramas and nonetheless are,” he stated. There was a interval when he did not watch them after shifting away from house, however he started following these extremely binge-able exhibits in the previous few years as a lot of them turned accessible to stream. I requested Min if he would contemplate starring in tasks produced in South Korea. “Completely,” he stated. “I used to be really presupposed to do a Korean mission final 12 months in Korea,” Min revealed. “And we had been very near closing the deal.” He did not go into element about why the deal fell by way of however stated it needed to do with labor legal guidelines. “Hopefully, as these legal guidelines change and evolve, and I determine extra about my capability to work there, it will probably occur ahead of later,” Min stated. 

Within the meantime, extra alternatives are being introduced to Min within the U.S. He acknowledges the swell of Asian American creators searching for to inform genuine tales and desires to be part of the narrative constructing. Engaged on the upcoming sequence Beef from Lee Sung-jin — which Min described as “an intensely darkish comedy” that begins with a street rage incident — felt private. “It’s such an thrilling new perspective into the Asian American persona and world, I do not suppose we have seen characters like this ever on display,” he stated concerning the present. “I received to be a small a part of that course of, and it was such a pleasure.” 

To date, Min has performed characters whose Asian id is explicitly a part of the story, like Yang in After Yang, and characters whose Asian id just isn’t — like Ben Hargreeves. The actor doesn’t wish to restrict himself to at least one sort of character or the opposite when deciding on his future roles. “The following mission I am doing does heart so much round [the character’s] Asian American id, nevertheless it’s not due to that that I gravitated towards that mission and script,” he stated. “It was as a result of I learn it and related with it.”As he chooses tales that transfer him, Min’s work will proceed to resonate. Even when he is taking part in a hateable character, it is exhausting to not love him. 

Season 3 of The Umbrella Academy is obtainable to stream.

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