David Harbour SuccessStory
David Harbour may be best known for his career-defining role as Jim Hopper in the acclaimed horror series “Stranger Things”, but he has actually carved out a successful career appearing in more than a dozen films and television shows over the past two decades.
David Kenneth Harbour was born in White Plains in the state of New York, United States on April 10, 1975. His parents Kenneth and Nancy both worked in the real estate industry, with his father working in commercial while his mother worked in residential real estate.
Harbour spent most of his childhood in White Plains together with his parents and sister although he would travel a short distance to Armonk where he attended high school.
While attending Byram Hills High School in Armonk, Harbour would be acquainted with future fellow actors Eyal Podell and Sean Maher. Podell is best known for his work in the police drama “NCIS” while also writing the screenplay for animated films “Cars 3” and “The Angry Birds Movie 2.” Maher meanwhile rose to fame in the popular science fiction show “Firefly” and its follow-up movie “Serenity.” After high school, Harbour moved to New Hampshire where he took on a performing arts degree at Dartmouth College, graduating in 1997.
Harbour commenced his acting career immediately after college, making his theatre debut in N. Richard Nash’s “The Rainmaker” in 1999. In the same year, he also made his television debut appearing in an episode of the highly-popular police procedural and legal drama “Law and Order.” Over the next nine years, Harbour would become a regular cameo fixture in “Law and Order”, portraying five different characters in the original show as well as in the spin-offs “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” and Law and Order: Criminal Intent.”
By the early and mid-2000s, Harbour began to build an impressive portfolio appearing in supporting roles in critically acclaimed films such as “Brokeback Mountain”, “Revolutionary Road”, and “War of the Worlds.” He also returned to theatre, earning a Tony nomination in his turn as Nick in the 2005 Broadway production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
Harbour then appeared in the 2008 James Bond film “Quantum of Solace” alongside Daniel Craig and Olga Kurylenko, the 2011 remake of “The Green Hornet” alongside Seth Rogen and Christoph Waltz, and the 2012 action drama “End of Watch” alongside Jake Gylenhaal and Michael Pena. The three roles would immensely help Harbour get more attention in blockbuster films which led to him being cast in more big-movie roles, most especially in the 2019 superhero movie “Hellboy.”
Between 2011 and 2015, Harbour established himself as a top television actor after appearing in three highly successful shows “Pan Am”, “The Newsroom”, and “State of Affairs.” He portrayed British Secret Service Agent Roger Anderson in six episodes for Pan Am, news anchor Elliot Hirsch in 10 episodes for The Newsroom, and White House Chief of Staff David Patrick in 13 episodes for “State of Affairs.”
After portraying supporting roles in over a decade, Harbour was poised for a big break. He was cast in the Netflix horror series “Stranger Things” alongside Winona Ryder, Joe Keery, Natalia Dyer, and several child actors including Millie Bobby Brown, Noah Schnapp, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, and Caleb McLaughlin. Stranger Things was released in 2016 and became one of the biggest shows of the year, receiving high praise from fans and critics for delivering the perfect blend of sci-fi horror themes and nostalgic 80s pop culture.
Aside from being the second most-streamed show on Netflix in 2016 just behind “Orange is the New Black”, the show also won numerous awards including Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series in the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards. Harbour also gained the first television award of his career after being recognized as the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series during the 2018 Critics’ Choice Television Awards.
In Stranger Things, Harbour portrays the chief of police of Hawkins, Indiana Jim Hopper. He adopts Eleven (Millie Brown), a child with psychokinetic abilities who happens to communicate with creatures from another dimension. Hopper and Eleven’s relationship kickstart the events of Stranger Things which eventually lead to a battle of survival between the people of Hawkins and the creatures of the “upside down.” Harbour’s portrayal as an adoptive father and reluctant hero easily made him one of the fan favorites throughout the show’s three seasons.
Harbour, together with the rest of the cast, is set to return in the show’s fourth season which will be released on Netflix sometime in 2021. Stranger Things is created by Matt and Ross Duffer who drew the show’s inspiration from classic Steven Spielberg and Stephen King films such as “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” and “It.” Aside from Harbour, one adult actor who massively benefited from the show’s success is Winona Ryder who portrays the fiery yet caring single mother Joyce Byers. Ryder rose to prominence in the 1990s in films such as Edward Scissorhands”, “Little Women”, and “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.”
Black Widow and Other Future Roles
Marvel Studios’ “Black Widow” will be Harbour’s latest entry in the blockbuster movie genre and his second superhero role after the Hellboy reboot, portraying the Russian super-soldier the Red Guardian. Expected to be released in July 2021, Black Widow is set after the events of “Captain America: Civil War” and follows the story of Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. Black Widow as she faces a conspiracy tied to her past. The film, which has been delayed numerous times due to COVID-19 restrictions, also stars Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, and William Hurt.
Harbour is also set to appear in the upcoming Steven Soderbergh crime thriller “No Sudden Move”. The film recently wrapped production but no official timeline has been set yet for its release. Starring an ensemble cast consisting of Don Cheadle, Benicio del Toro, John Hamm, and Ray Liotta, No Sudden Move will narrate the story of a group of criminals on a risky mission to retrieve a specific document.
Harbour is married to musician Lily Allen since September 2020. The two had been in a relationship since 2019 and married in Las Vegas a year later with the wedding officiated by an Elvis Presley impersonator. He was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 25 and is still taking medications up to this day.
Although David Harbour will forever be attached to his Stranger Things role, there is no denying he has accomplished many things in his 20-year career. And with future projects still lining up, the journey is far from over for the New York-based actor.