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Stranger Things' David Harbour thought the show would be a "disaster"

Screenshot: Netflix

David Harbour has clearly emerged as the MVP of the Stranger Things cast when it comes to doing press. Whether he’s posing for someone’s high school senior photos or officiating a wedding in his police chief’s costume, he has become a master of the art of making himself very endearing online—or at the very least, demonstrating that he’s a giant nerd.

That trend continued last night when the actor appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, during which—as they are currently shooting season four—Colbert inquired as to what Harbour originally thought about the show that made him a star, back when they were shooting season one. The man who made Chief Hopper a fan favorite then confessed his dark secret—that when they were making the first season, he thought Stranger Things would be a massive bomb.

I was sure it was gonna be a complete disaster and a big failure before it came out. I remember when we were shooting, we would all sit around talking about how terrible it was gonna be, mainly because of my performance. I thought I was tanking the show.

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Honestly, this sounds more like David Harbour thought that David Harbour was going to bomb. Also, it’s hard to believe that the other actors sat around with him talking about how terrible it was going to be because of his performance. Maybe they also figured it wouldn’t go anywhere, but that’s pretty different from Winona Ryder pausing in between scenes to say, “Man, this series is really gonna blow, and it’s mostly your fault, David. You are stinking up the place.” Nonetheless, the second half of his explanation sounds more plausible:

Before it came out, you normally see things on buses. I live in New York, I’m wandering around—buses, phone booths, there are ads for shows. Not a single ad. Three weeks before the show, a week before the show, and I was doing a play with a friend who’s on a very successful television program, and I said to him, “No ads, no ads. I guess they’re doing some kind of new campaign.” He said, “No, they’re burying the show.” And I said, “What does that mean, burying the show? I don’t understand your television lingo.” And he said, “They hate the show, they’re trying to make sure no one watches it.”

Clearly, even if the idea that Netflix was “burying” it were true, it quickly became a moot point. It’s arguably the biggest success in the history of streaming programming. As Harbour explains to Colbert, “I have a bunch of telephone numbers in my phone for people that, like, I’ll have a driver, five years ago, say, ‘Put my number in your phone,’ and I put it in the phone, and then I would get texts from drivers from the last 10 years, ‘I saw Stranger Things. It’s so good!’”

Also, Colbert asks him about the weird mullet hairdo he’s got, and Harbour says it’s because when he’s unemployed, he likes to “get weird” with his hair, letting it all grow out. Well, we call bullshit. Consider this our official accusation that he’s returning for season four. It’s shooting right now, and that is 100% a Hopper hairdo. Frankly, not even David Harbour would intentionally look like—as Colbert puts it—“a European hitman in an ’80s movie who has no lines.” You can see the full interview below.

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About the author

Alex McLevy

Alex McLevy is a writer and editor at The A.V. Club, and would kindly appreciate additional videos of robots failing to accomplish basic tasks.