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Stranger Things' David Harbour Has Always Admired How Real Hopper Is

David Harbour has played some very memorable characters in recent years, from an aging Soviet super soldier, to the most recent iteration of Hellboy, to a profoundly malcontented Santa Claus in "Violent Night." But really, it all started when he landed the role in "Stranger Things" of Jim Hopper, the beleaguered small-town sheriff with a gruff demeanor and a heart of gold. On the whole, Harbour's performance has been praised, and has earned him nominations for Emmys, Golden Globes, and Screen Actors Guild Awards. 

Through several seasons, we've watched as he's been pulled out of his shell of pain and trauma, grown into a father figure for Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), fumbled through romantic feelings for Joyce (Winona Ryder), and gone to lengths in saving Hawkins from the Upside Down that have taken him from his hometown to a Siberian prison and back again. All in all, it would probably be an understatement to say that Hopper has found himself in some unusual circumstances. No matter how weird the world around him gets, though, Hopper himself seems to stay relatively grounded. In fact, in a way, it's what Harbour himself seems to enjoy most about the role.

'He does what needs to be done'

During an AMA at the r/StrangerThings subreddit in 2016, one fan, u/Hinkster13, asked David Harbour what he liked most about the character of Jim Hopper. Harbour replied, "the fact that he's a real guy, and a survivor and he does what needs to be done." He also mentioned, strangely, that he liked how tough Hopper is on others. This seems an odd character trait to admire, but over several seasons it has become clear that Hopper is tough on people because he cares deeply for them. Even if toughness isn't ultimately the best course of action, it comes from the right place. His initial instinct to hide Eleven at the beginning of Season 2, for example, is clearly borne of a need to protect rather than control, even when he loses his patience with her.

What's notable about Harbour's answer, however, is that it was given in 2016, when both he and viewers had only one season under their belts. This is well before Hopper adopts El, before the Battle of Starcourt, before he faces down a demogorgon to break out of a Russian jail in the middle of winter. At the time, all Harbour had to hold up as an example were how often Hopper could be a jerk to his fellow citizens of Hawkins, Indiana. "[R]ight until the last scene he's always yelling at joyce or punching jonathan [Charlie Heaton] lol," wrote Harbour. Compared to some of these more recent happenings, this seems downright quaint.