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David Harbour has zero anxiety about playing Hellboy in the upcoming Neil Marshall reboot — but some of his “prominent nerd” pals tried to talk him out of taking the somewhat controversial role.
The film and TV star, most well-known for playing Chief Jim Hopper on Netflix’s Stranger Things, recently took some time out from filming a Tide commercial, which will air during the Super Bowl, to talk with Heat Vision about Hellboy, his dad bod, his headline-grabbing social media habits and trying to be the best mentor possible to a cast of young up-and-comers.
Last June, it was announced Harbour would be taking over the role of the enormous, red, wise-cracking, well-meaning half-demon from actor Ron Perlman, who first brought the comic book character to the big screen in two films directed by Guillermo del Toro in 2004 and 2008.
Harbour was ready to attack the project, but some of his friends told him to walk away, he revealed to Heat Vision.
“I was approached by some very prominent nerds whom I know very well, and I respect their opinions because they’re friends of mine, who were like, ‘Dude, step away from the Hellboy. Step away,’ ” he recalled.
And that was no surprise to Harbour. His casting was polarizing to fans of the Perlman and del Toro films, who yearned for one more flick to complete that trilogy. Still, as Harbour explained, his Hellboy will be a unique take, which means fans will hopefully like both versions of the character.
“I can like Michael Keaton’s Batman and I can like Christian Bale’s Batman,” Harbour said. “I can like Jack Nicolson’s Joker and I can like Heath Ledger’s Joker. There’s other Jokers I don’t have to like,” the Suicide Squad actor quipped.
Calling Perlman an “amazing actor” and del Toro an “amazing director,” Harbour said the new take on Hellboy will be closer to the Dark Horse Comics character.
“[The comics] seem much more macabre to me, they seem much more melancholy, they seem much more primal, more struggle, more angst,” he said. “And I felt like those other two movies were funnier and brighter and kind of sillier in a way, which was great for what it was. But I thought to approach this material in a different light and to do something completely different than what they had done.”
He continued, “This was something that I couldn’t pass up because I love those [Mike] Mignola comics. And the mythos we are in now, I feel like two strains are running. They are making these kind of popcorn-y, somewhat two-dimensional comic book movies and then there is this strain like Logan and Deadpool. That is what I am drawn to in the genre. I would love to do a Hellboy where you love him, but you’re also not quite sure about him.”
Harbour also explained that while he did get in better shape for Hellboy, his fan-favorite dad bod from Stranger Things‘ is not going anywhere.
“Look, here’s the thing, dad bod is here to stay,” he said laughing. “I did a lot of strength and power training because I felt like the amount of stunts I was doing is crazy, so I wanted to be powerful. But we were fitting the prosthetics while I was shooting Stranger Things, and I wasn’t allowed to lose that much weight. Don’t worry! The dad bod is back in season three, kids. I’ll take care of you!”
Of late, Harbour has become nearly as well-known for his social media habits as his acting roles, and built a large and loyal fan following. He has also given a few fans a thrill, such as Damaris Fregoso, who asked Harbour how many retweets it would take for the actor appear in her high school senior photos. Harbour said 25,000. That number was reached in no time, so, good to his word, Harbour posed for the photos with Fregoso.
“I was like, ‘That’s fucking hilarious,'” he said. “If I was in high school, and we had Twitter and Harrison Ford was on Twitter, I totally would have tweeted him and asked for him to take my high school photos with me. And I thought what a lovely, charming way to interact with people whom I otherwise would not get a chance to interact with on a daily basis. So it became a forum where I could dip in and give people something nice for their day. So, instead of expressing my feelings or beliefs, I started giving people little gifts in the form of jokes about myself or my dad bod or whatever.”
Being good to those physically around him, especially the young cast of Stranger Things, is also paramount to Harbour, he said.
“The teens themselves, Joe [Keery], Natalia [Dyer] and Charlie [Heaton], I will often talk strict advice with them,” he said. “They have certain projects and ask, ‘Should I or shouldn’t I?’ And I have always been very clear with them: You should follow your own heart and your own bliss. Life really is too short.”
For the younger stars of the show, Harbour said it is more about showing, rather than telling, when it comes to guidance.
“I care about them a great deal, so I am very parental to them,” he said. “But the way I am parenting is to be hard on them when they take themselves too seriously. Not when they take what they do seriously, because I think that’s very important. When they take themselves or their social media or that fame too seriously, I don’t like that.”
He continued, “And I express that to them. When they are sensitive, open kids, and they are trying to be artists, when they are being genuine, I am real supportive of that. Like for me, it is not about them being cute for the cameras, it is about them being genuine human beings. When I give them that validation, it can mean something to them.”
Before retuning to his secretive commercial shoot, Harbour gave a little tease of what can be expected from his Super Bowl commercial for Tide.
“I had seen the one they did last year with Terry Bradshaw and the stain,” he said. “So when they approached me, they had the whole different idea that I thought was brilliant. I may play some pretty deep characters, but I am a ridiculous person so you’d expect me to sell whiskey or cigarettes, but the fact that it’s Tide, I just kind of love. It has this wholesome, good-hearted thing to it.”
Check out some previews for the commercial below.
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