Stranger Things’ David Harbour is well-known for being an outspoken actor, especially after a barn-burning speech at last year’s SAG Awards, but soon he’ll be known for a new, equally fiery reason when he takes on the role of Hellboy. In a discussion with The Hollywood Reporter at the Dubai International Film Festival, Harbour discussed working on director Neil Marshall's superhero reboot.
Harbour compares the character to a hellish Hamlet, saying the central character conflict is hinged on a struggle of identity. “‘I am the beast of the apocalypse! Should I become the beast of the apocalypse? 'To be or not to be the beast of the apocalypse' is kind of the question,” quipped Harbour.
While previously being compared to Indiana Jones, this isn’t the first time the demonic new film has cited William Shakespeare as a storytelling influence. However, Harbour continues talking about the amount of action combined with the interiority of Hellboy himself, which is a refreshing hint at the hero’s complexity. Though the film is “a superhero movie,” it also has aspects of “old school Frankenstein, Dracula, monsters running around” while Hellboy himself does stunts that make the middle-aged Harbour balk.
When asked if he’s doing his own stunts, Harbour responded, “Hell no! There are about eight guys that play me. We are a team of Hellboys.” “Nobody wanted to cast me when I was 20 to do this stuff when I could actually have done it, but now they’re like ‘step up, come on, run around, roll on the ground,’” he continued. These stunts are nothing new to the Hellboy world, but Harbour hints at some key tonal differences from the first two movies helmed by director Guillermo del Toro.
While del Toro’s films embraced the bright mysticism of the universe, Harbour cites the comics as a stronger influence this time around. “There is something when you go back to the actual graphic novel that is a bit darker and bit less clean. And even in terms of the character arc of Hellboy himself, this piece focuses a little more on his internal struggles,” Harbour said, implying that Hellboy will be more predominantly focused upon rather than the vivid world of weirdness crafted by del Toro. Which particular Mike Mignola stories will be key is still under speculation, but there’s plenty of backlog for fans to leaf through.