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David Harbour's Sudden Mid-Life Stranger Things Fame Was A Blessing And A Curse

Prior to winning the hearts of millions as the gruff but teddy-bear-like police chief Jim Hopper on Netflix's "Stranger Things," David Harbour was certainly no stranger to the entertainment industry. His filmography is impressive, with credits including the 2004 Liam Neeson flick "Kinsey," Dexter Tolliver in 2016's "Suicide Squad," and numerous others (via IMDb). This is in addition to a slew of television and theater credits.

However, his biggest claim to fame didn't come until July 2016, when "Stranger Things" Season 1 made its debut on Netflix. The original series, created by Matt and Ross Duffer, was an instant hit. As reported by Variety, the show was viewed during its first 35 days by 14.07 million viewers between the ages of 18 and 49, with "Fuller House" Season 1 and "Orange is the New Black" Season 4 the only offerings to achieve higher numbers in that same timeframe.

As fans not-so-patiently await the fifth and final season, "Stranger Things" continues to resonate with the masses for a number of reasons. Yet one of the biggest draws is the lovable cast of characters and the talented actors who bring them to life.

Harbour's on-screen persona of Hopper experiences quite the dramatic arc. Audiences have watched him transform from a borderline alcoholic to a father figure for Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and a romantic interest for Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder). Therefore, it makes sense that Harbour is regularly approached on the street by excited "Stranger Things" fans. But unlike many of his co-stars, who were up-and-coming teen icons when the show premiered, this was an odd thing to adjust to in his 40s.

David Harbour loves the positive impact of his work but isn't always in the mood for selfies

When "Stranger Things" catapulted to instant global success in 2016, much of the core cast, including Gaten Matarazzo, Finn Wolfhard, and Millie Bobby Brown, were in their teens. In a 2017 interview with Deadline, Brown said of the unprecedented hit debut season, "Honestly, it's been unreal. It's been magical."

For David Harbour, being recognized and adored on such a large scale after decades in the industry has been more of a bittersweet experience. Unlike his counterpart Winona Ryder, who is no stranger to the public eye thanks to her roles in "Edward Scissorhands" and "Beetlejuice" and high profile engagement to Johnny Depp, Harbour isn't used to such a big spotlight. On the one hand, he views his sudden mid-life fame as a gift.

He told Total Film in an interview for its December issue, on sale November 10, "I love the fact that people feel things about my work and the stories that I tell. That's all I ever wanted to do, to touch people in that way." In fact, Harbour has enjoyed many pleasant interactions with "Stranger Things" fans, who he described as "lovely and kind and generous" when they approach him in public.

However, at 47, it can become taxing always to be available to "Stranger Things" fans, especially when they're possessive or demanding of his time. Harbour is only human and, like Hopper and the rest of society, isn't always in the best of moods. But due to the nature of his job, he can't always let this show. "[T]here are some days when I'm cranky, and I don't want people looking at me or needing selfies from me. You just do the best you can."