David Harbour gets deep comparing his Hellboy to Shakespeare: “It will be really rich”

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Sep 3, 2019, 8:16 AM EDT (Updated)

No one is more pumped for the R-rated revamp of Hellboy than its lead star, David Harbour.

The actor was unveiled in all his horned glory in September, and while his version of the half-demon was visually familiar to that of Ron Perlman’s, Harbour has revealed he’s been looking for some hidden depths in the new reboot.

In a new interview with U.K. newspaper The Independent, the Stranger Things star has likened playing the devilish character to tackling Shakespeare on the stage, and applying the English playwright’s storytelling approach to the comic book world.

“On a surface level, he’s an adopted kid from hell. He was meant to bring about the apocalypse. Yet he just wants to be a good guy and fight evil,” Harbour says. “But he has this destiny. That struggle is very Hamlet-esque, even having tones of Coriolanus, where you have this guy who cannot understand his own true nature. Those levels of complexity, if we can bring that to this movie, which we’re trying to do, I think will be really rich.”

Like Hamlet, Hellboy also has his fair share of mother/father issues, and there’s certainly a lot for Harbour to play with in looking to Coriolanus for inspiration, too. The lead character, Roman general Caius Martius, is brave and fearsome in battle just like Anung Un Rama, and they both share a decent number of character flaws. Their core difference, though, is that Martius (who is given the name Coriolanus after his military success against various uprisings) has no time for Rome’s lower classes, whereas Hellboy, we’d argue, is a man of the people.

That’s not to say the new movie won’t also be a badass, thrill-seeking actioner, and Harbour adds that there will be plenty of fun to be had amid the drama of the character.

“We still have all that fun and silliness you expect with a comic book story,” he says. “But, as an actor, I want to explore human beings, their psychology. I love outcasts, people from the bottom, because I can relate to them. I myself have felt that way.”

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