I didn’t want to recre­ate some­thing that has al­ready been done

He’s known for his role in Net­flix hit Stranger Things, and now David Har­bour has landed the lead in su­per­hero epic Hellboy. GEORGIA HUMPHREYS chats to the ac­tor about get­ting in shape, and over­com­ing his reser­va­tions about do­ing a re­boot

Bangor Mail - - The Big Interview -

DAVID HAR­BOUR has an ad­mis­sion to make. Back in 2017, a first-look pic­ture of the Hellboy re­boot was posted on Twit­ter, with the tit­u­lar char­ac­ter look­ing in­cred­i­bly mus­cly. Me­dia out­lets went crazy over the trans­for­ma­tion the Stranger Things star had gone through for the role.

But “that’s not my body”, David whis­pers to me play­fully, point­ing to the film poster be­hind him.

That’s not to say there wasn’t any phys­i­cal prepa­ra­tion for the role, of course.

“I did pow­er­lift­ing, be­cause I wanted to feel like a beast,” rea­sons the New Yorker, who turns 44 this month.

“So yeah, I lifted a bunch of weight... There’s some­thing that hap­pens to your body and your emo­tions when you’re do­ing that, where you just get kind of an­gry. And so I en­joyed that as­pect of it.”

Based on the graphic nov­els by Mike Mig­nola, the dark fan­tasy film sees Hellboy, the leg­endary half-de­mon, caught be­tween the worlds of the su­per­nat­u­ral and hu­man.

While strug­gling to ac­cept who he re­ally is, he bat­tles an an­cient sor­cer­ess bent on re­venge, with plenty of epic (and rather bloody) fight scenes along the way.

David’s pre­vi­ous turns on the sil­ver screen in­clude Quan­tum Of So­lace, Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Road and Sui­cide Squad.

But he is best known for his TV role as Jim Hop­per in the Net­flix science fic­tion hor­ror se­ries Stranger Things, which re­turns for a long-awaited third sea­son in July.

It earned him a Crit­ics’ Choice Tele­vi­sion Award in 2018, while he was also nom­i­nated for a Prime­time Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award. And it cer­tainly made Hol­ly­wood take note – he also has thriller Dhaka, along­side Chris Hemsworth, hit­ting cin­e­mas this year, plus there are ru­mours he’s in talks about a part in an­other comic book

movie, Mar­vel’s Black Widow.

As for tak­ing on no­to­ri­ous anti-hero Hellboy, there are var­i­ous rea­sons why it ap­pealed to him as an ac­tor.

“First of all, he’s an out­cast and peo­ple hate him,” he de­clares proudly. “And I love char­ac­ters like this be­cause I my­self have felt that way so of­ten in my life.”

Deep in thought, he adds that the theme of iden­tity in the film is very re­lat­able too.

“There’s this ques­tion of, ‘Is our iden­tity the con­scious choices that we make in life, or is there some­thing that’s in­trin­si­cally ‘us’, that is ge­netic or what­ever?’ And if you make ei­ther one of those choices, you make a devil’s bar­gain, be­cause you sac­ri­fice an­other piece of your­self, right?

“But I’ve of­ten won­dered about this in vino ver­i­tas thing, like, ‘When I’m drunk, I’m re­ally my­self’ – I don’t think that’s true,” he con­tin­ues.

“I think there are things in­side me that are strange, but I think my be­hav­iour in terms of my con­scious choice is re­ally what de­fines me as a hu­man be­ing.

“I think Hellboy comes to re­alise that through­out the film, and that to me is a very ap­peal­ing jour­ney, a very ap­peal­ing story to tell.”

The orig­i­nal Hellboy film, di­rected by The Shape Of Wa­ter’s Guillermo del Toro, was re­leased in 2004, fol­lowed by a se­quel, Hellboy II: The Golden Army four years later, with Ron Perl­man play­ing the lead char­ac­ter both times.

And David ad­mits he did have some reser­va­tions about star­ring in a re­boot.

“I didn’t want to recre­ate some­thing that has al­ready been done, I didn’t want to be the sec­ond string to do the same thing.

“And so when they pitched it to me, they said, ‘We’re go­ing to do some­thing very dif­fer­ent. Hellboy him­self is a lot more scarred and he’s younger and he’s darker and he’s more strug­gling with his own iden­tity, he’s strug­gling with his fa­ther, which isn’t the case in the other films’.

“It’s also gorier and it’s more hor­ror-based and it’s got these kind of scares and these creepy things in it, and that got me ex­cited.”

In the end, once he had the script, and saw the great cast they’d as­sem­bled (no­tably, Ian McShane plays his dad) the “trep­i­da­tion fell away pretty quickly”.

Back to the style of this film, and it’s true that there are def­i­nitely quite a few vi­o­lent scenes through­out.

In fact, there are a few “cover your eyes with your hands” mo­ments...

“The thing I like about it is it re­minds me a lit­tle bit, in a pulpy way, of a Quentin Tarantino movie,” sug­gests David.

“At the end of Django Un­chained, I re­mem­ber blood is com­i­cally spurt­ing out and I don’t ex­actly know what Tarantino’s go­ing for, but it’s some­thing about this world of vi­o­lence be­ing so chaotic and ran­dom and al­most silly, in a cer­tain way.

“And I think that’s what we strive for in that gore in Hellboy, there’s just these mo­ments of, ‘Oh man, we’re in a mon­ster world, we’re in an apoc­a­lyp­tic world, we’re in this world that is some­what other to our ex­pe­ri­ence’.

“I was grossed out my­self! But that to me is part of the fun of it. If you’re gonna do Hellboy, let’s do it.”

Hellboy is out now.

David as Hellboy

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