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How Jeremy Renner, of all people, wound up singing in Umbrella Academy

Showrunner Steve Blackman tells us how the Hawkeye star’s ‘appearance’ in season 3 came to be

Jeremy Renner’s head on Luther from Umbrella Academy’s body, singing and holding a mic Graphic: William Joel/Polygon | Source images: Denise Truscello/WireImage/Getty Images, Netflix
Zosha Millman (she/her) manages TV coverage at Polygon as TV editor, but will happily write about movies, too. She’s been working as a journalist for more than 10 years.

No, that wasn’t a subtitle glitch, and your ears did not deceive you: At the end of “Kugelblitz,” the fourth episode of The Umbrella Academy season 3, that was indeed Jeremy Renner’s cover of “House of the Rising Sun” playing over the action.

[Ed. note: Light spoilers for episode 4 of The Umbrella Academy season 3, which is now out on Netflix.]

The song technically bookends the episode (though the opening features the much more famous iteration of the song by the Animals), adding a sort of spooky charm to the continuation of Harlan’s story. We see how Sissy’s son was inadvertently responsible for the deaths of the Umbrella Academy’s mothers, helping to create the titular Kugelblitz that’s currently endangering the world. In his profound grief at the loss of his own mother, Harlan reached out using the powers he inherited from Viktor in 1963 and accidentally killed the women before they could give birth.

Unfortunately, it’s possible to be a little distracted from the pathos of the scene by the Renner of it all. One can imagine that learning from Umbrella Academy that Jeremy Renner has a music career would be a little jarring. But welcome to the fold; in addition to being an actor, Renner is also a singer-songwriter who plays guitar, keyboard, and drums. He has released two EPs, sang on multiple film soundtracks, and even contributed to the soundtrack for the film Arctic Dogs.

So is Jeremy Renner the logical person to land the gut punch of that episode 4 moment, particularly when Umbrella Academy co-creator and My Chemical Romance vocalist Gerard Way’s rendition is right there? Well, all I can tell you is Steve Blackman, the showrunner for the Netflix series, knew people might be a little taken aback. But he also found the cover worked perfectly for the moment.

“I needed a different version of it, and there’s a thousand different versions of that song,” Blackman tells Polygon. “But Jeremy Renner’s had a really interesting ending; the way he brought out the sort of final bit of the song really worked with what Viktor was doing. [...] It resonated with me in my mind of what the emotional place was.”

In a show full of notable needle drops and dance sequences, the Renner cover might not linger in the audience’s mind in the same way. But if it does, then the lyric video should be your next foray into the World of Renner.

Additional reporting by Petrana Radulovic.

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