Why Chief Jim Hopper from Stranger Things looks so familiar

When Netflix released the first season of Stranger Things in 2016, the sci-fi show became an instant pop culture phenomenon, inspiring fan art, think pieces, and a whole lot of head-scratching. After all, the character of Jim Hopper—the alcoholic police chief who realizes there's something spooky happening in his little town—looked incredibly familiar.

That's probably because Chief Hopper is actually David Harbour, the actor who's set to play everybody's favorite demon in Neil Marshall's upcoming Hellboy reboot. Of course, we didn't know about the new Hellboy movie back in 2016 when we were all binge-watching the adventures of Will, Mike, and Eleven, so what was setting off all those alarm bells of recognition? Well, let go of those Eggos and stop playing D&D for just a second, because we're about to do a little investigating and find out why Chief Jim Hopper from Stranger Things looks so familiar.

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Directed by Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain tells the story of two cowboys, Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger), who fall in love while tending sheep in the wilds of Wyoming. Of course, being a gay couple in the 1960s is no walk in the park, especially in the homophobic world of rodeo riders and cow punchers. Terrified of what might happen if they're caught, Ennis refuses to pull up stakes and move in with Jack, shooting down his partner's dream of starting up a ranch together someday.

As you might expect, this doesn't sit well with Gyllenhaal's character, who needs more than one or two high-altitude, um, meet-ups every year. Hurt and angry, Jack eventually runs into Randall Malone (Harbour), a Texas rancher with a rather talkative wife (Anna Faris). The two buckaroos first meet at a community dance, and from the moment Randall appears, he starts making some serious eyes at Jack. Jack starts to realize his dreams of being with Ennis might never come true…but maybe he'll have a shot with Randall, instead.

Speaking with Out, Harbor described how he approached the part of Randall, saying, "For my character, I thought about having a secret that could threaten to destroy your world, something that…was so shameful, but so necessary to their reality they couldn't deny it." He then explained that the moment he read the script, he knew Brokeback Mountain was something important. "I thought it was very special," he explained, "and that world would really appreciate it. And I was right. It's a movie I am very proud of."

Quantum of Solace (2008)

While Quantum of Solace is often considered the weakest of the Daniel Craig Bond films, you certainly can't say the same about David Harbour's mustache game. Sporting a set of whiskers that would make any 1970s dad jealous, the actor shows up in the 2008 action-thriller as Gregg Beam, CIA section chief of South America. Arrogant and obnoxious, this smarmy spy is secretly working with Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a member of a shady organization called Quantum and a guy who specializes in destabilizing world governments for a hefty fee.

So what's the CIA doing with a French supervillain? Greene has plans to take out the Bolivian government and put a brutal dictator, General Medrano (Joaquín Cosio), in charge. But first, he needs to make sure the Central Intelligence Agency—a group that also has a rather storied history when it comes to toppling world leaders—doesn't get in the way. Beam agrees to stay out of the whole affair, but only if Greene lets the Americans in on his oil-drilling scheme. See, Beam fancies himself a detective, and he's assuming that since the Frenchman is purchasing a whole lot of piping, he must be drilling for some Texas tea, right?

Well, needless to say, Beam isn't Sherlock Holmes, and Greene has a much different goal in mind. He's playing a long con, and he's got Beam right in his palm, which comes in handy moments later when he asks the mustachioed CIA chief to dispatch a certain martini-drinking "pest." As for Harbour himself, the actor had a lot of fun playing a Bond villain, even if he only showed up in the film for a couple of minutes. "I mean, to have a mustache and be villainous," he told Vulture, "it just doesn't get any more fun than that."

Revolutionary Road (2008)

Based on the 1961 novel by Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road reunited Titanic co-stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet for a disaster film of a different sort. The beautiful duo plays Frank and April Wheeler, a married couple that has slowly discovered they absolutely hate their lives. April is a failed actress who feels trapped in a boring life, while Frank was a once-ambitious dreamer who's now just a cog in the corporate machine. Eventually, April decides they should move to France, and the future seems bright and cheery, until reality rears back and smacks them in the face.

Watching the soap opera unfold from next door are Frank and April's neighbors, Shep and Milly Campbell (Harbour and Kathryn Hahn). Like the Wheelers, the Campbells seem like they have it together on the surface, but everybody's desperate down on Revolutionary Road. With his 1950s haircut and high-waisted slacks, Shep is incredibly frustrated with home life. His kids don't talk to him, and you can tell by the way he speaks to Milly that he isn't all that fond of his wife anymore. That's probably why he stands in the backyard, staring down at the Wheelers' house…until April comes over for dinner, anyway. That's when Shep finally starts smiling.

"He's a puppy dog, in a way," Harbour explained to Vulture, "who's in love with April….You see dogs outside cafes when their owners are getting a cup of coffee….I think that's sort of Shep's whole deal, waiting for April." The actor went on to say that his sex scene with Kate Winslet was a bit awkward as her at-the-time husband, Sam Mendes, was the man sitting behind the camera. But as Harbour's character comes off as "such a bad lover," he didn't think Mendes was worried about Harbour stealing his wife away. Of course, that's just a nice guy being humble. After all, there are plenty of people out there who don't mind a David Harbour dad-bod.

The Green Hornet (2011)

In 2011, director Michel Gondry teamed up with Seth Rogen to bring DC's Green Hornet to the silver screen. The results were…less than fantastic. Even Rogen described making the movie as a "nightmare." Still, you can't fault the actors, as the film is packed with charismatic stars trying their best to impress. We've got Rogen as the titular hero and Jay Chou as his sidekick Cato, not to mention Cameron Diaz, Christoph Waltz, Tom Wilkinson, and Edward James Olmos. (Even John Connor himself makes a brief appearance.)

And of course, we've got David Harbour as District Attorney Frank Scanlon, who offers Britt Reid (Rogen) a friendly ear after the young man's father (Wilkinson) passes away. But in addition to consoling a billionaire playboy, Scanlon has to worry about his upcoming reelection, which is getting more and more difficult thanks to the Green Hornet. Reid's newspaper is constantly publishing stories about the Hornet's escapades, and that's making Scanlon look bad. Hoping to take control of the situation, the DA offers to cut a deal with Reid, promising "compensation" if the papers stop focusing so much on crime.

Yeah, the lawyer is corrupt. Shocker. But more than that (spoilers), it turns out Scanlon is working with the city's number one crime lord (Waltz). In fact, Scanlon even went so far as to personally kill Britt's dad because he wouldn't play ball with the bad guys. Really, it should come as no surprise that Scanlon is a crook as Harbour often shows up as the villain, but what is kind of shocking is how Scanlon meets his demise at the climax of the film. Let's just say that Batman wouldn't approve.

End of Watch (2012)

Seven years after Brokeback Mountain, David Harbour joined up again with Jake Gyllenhaal for David Ayer's End of Watch, a film that Roger Ebert hailed as the fourth best film of 2012. Only this time, the actors would be trading in their cowboy hats and horses for badges and black-and-whites. This found footage police procedural follows two beat cops—Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Miguel Zavala (Michael Peña)—as they patrol the streets of South Central LA. Working in the heart of gang territory, these guys are more than just friends. They're brothers in blue, kidding each other, offering advice, and watching each other's backs as they find themselves faced with some very scary assassins.

They're also constantly finding themselves on the bad side of Officer Van Hauser (Harbor). Described as the "angriest" police officer "in the world," Van Hauser is a cynical cop who shouts at rookies and can't stand the fact that Taylor is filming everything for an art project. Most importantly, he's not particularly fond of Taylor and Zavala's supercop attitudes. While they're ready to save the world, Van Hauser is jaded, frustrated, and thinks he's been screwed over by the system. In one amazing monologue, Van Hauser lays into the duo, promising that one day, they'll be just as bitter and disgruntled as he is.

As David Ayer puts it, Van Hauser has "been beaten down by the system, and isn't quite the true believer in the mission anymore." And sadly, things don't end all that well for the contemptuous cop after he fails to see eye-to-eye with a particularly violent gangster. However, while his character is a pretty miserable guy, Harbour seems to have had a cool time behind-the-scenes, participating in "extensive police training" to prepare for his part. As a result, he walked away with "a whole new level of respect for the amount of split second decision that these [officers] have to make, and that can cost people their lives."

The Equalizer (2014)

Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is not a man you want to mess with. Sure, at first glance he might look like a middle-aged, tea-drinking, book-reading, obsessive compulsive hardware store employee. But before he started pushing carts at Home Mart, McCall was an unstoppable assassination machine, a black-ops super soldier who could kill with anything from barbed wire to a cork screw. So after a Russian gangster savagely beats McCall's friend, a young prostitute played by Chloë Grace Moretz, the old guy decides to pay the mobster a visit, proving he's still got some of that old murder magic left.

Of course, the Russian Mafia isn't going to sit by while somebody picks off their crime bosses, and the head honcho in the Motherland sends a big bad hit man (Martin Csokas) to track McCall down and teach him some manners. And when the killer shows up in Boston, he's escorted around town by Frank Masters (Harbour), a corrupt detective who quickly finds himself in way over his head. Not only is this Russian guy completely crazy, but Masters is soon abducted by McCall. Our hero wants the cop to give him some info on the mob, and McCall has a pretty effective method of getting answers, one that involves water hoses and exhaust fumes.

By the time he's done with the interrogation, a bruised and battered Masters is only too happy to switch sides. And David Harbour himself was also pretty pleased with his big torture scene. Speaking with the New York Daily News, Harbour explained how director Antoine Fuqua didn't want to use stunt doubles for a moment where Washington kicks Harbour's head, so he asked the actor if he would take the blow. In reality, the stunt just involved Washington slowly putting his foot on Harbour's face (Fuqua sped the scene up later on), but still, Harbor said it was a great experience, as it was "a childhood dream to get kicked in the face by Denzel Washington."

A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014)

David Harbour made his feature film debut back in 2004, starring alongside Liam Neeson in Bill Condon's biopic, Kinsey. A decade later, both actors played prominent roles in Scott Frank's crime flick A Walk Among the Tombstones. But this time, Harbour was playing a slightly creepier character. In fact, it's safe to say this 2014 thriller features Harbour at his downright scariest as Ray, one-half of a serial killer duo that excels at chopping women into tiny pieces.

Working with the silent yet sadistic Albert (Adam David Thompson), Ray has found a way to combine business with pleasure. Using files stolen from the DEA, the serial killer couple will track down a drug dealer and then kidnap the criminal's wife, girlfriend, or daughter. Next, the two hold the poor woman for ransom, but even if the cash shows up on time, Ray and Albert carry out their grisly plan anyway, torturing the woman to death and recording the sounds of her screams.

However, their murder spree comes to a halt when a vengeful drug trafficker (Dan Stevens, who also looks kind of familiar) hires retired detective Matthew Scudder (Neeson) to bring the killers to justice. A recovering alcoholic with a dark secret, Scudder soon realizes he's dealing with some genuine psychopaths, monsters who view their victims simply as "body parts." On the flip side, after kidnapping a 14-year-old girl, the creeps quickly discover that Scudder is no pushover, as the detective refuses to play their mind games, demanding the killers follow his exact instructions, or they'll never see a dime of the ransom money.

And, of course, they do what he says. After all, when Liam Neeson threatens you over the phone, boy, you better listen.

Black Mass (2015)

Directed by Crazy Heart's Scott Cooper, Black Mass boasts a pretty impressive cast, including names like Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, and Adam McKay. But really, this film is all about Johnny Depp and Joel Edgerton, actors playing two sides of a very corrupt coin. In this real-life crime story, Depp is James "Whitey" Bulger, the infamous mobster who murdered his way to the top of the South Boston crime scene. As for Edgerton, he plays John Connolly, an FBI agent who grew up with Bulger and thinks the gangster might be a valuable informant against the Italian Mafia.

However, things quickly spin out of control, especially since Bulger is a really lousy rat. Sure, he drops a few hints here and there, but really, this alliance is pretty one-sided, with Connolly constantly covering for his childhood friend. Eventually, the FBI agent is sweeping Bulger's crimes under the rug, feeding him the names of snitches inside his own gang, and giving Bulger credit for tips that actually came from other sources, all while the gangster grows in power. And as Connolly slides into a pit he can't escape, he's dragging Agent John Morris (Harbour) right along with him.

Connolly's co-worker, Morris truly believes that cooperating with Bulger is a wise move…well, at first, anyway. However, Morris is quickly sucked into Connolly's schemes, and when he feels the legal noose tightening around his neck, Morris decides it might be a good idea to talk to the press. Plus, it doesn't help matters any that Whitey Bulger is completely insane. In one of the best scenes in the movie, Morris just wants to enjoy his steak dinner, but after spilling the beans about his family's secret marinade recipe, he suddenly learns his informant is a legitimate madman. As for the actual actors, Depp is absolutely terrifying in this scene, and Harbour does a fantastic job of selling the dread. Of course, if you had Johnny Depp staring at you with those creepy blue contacts, you'd probably look pretty freaked out, too.

Suicide Squad (2016)

Four years after directing End of Watch, David Ayer took his first shot at a franchise film with DC's Suicide Squad, a movie that was hated by critics, made a truckload of cash, and reunited the director with David Harbour. Only instead of playing a disgruntled police officer, this time Harbour showed up as Dexter Tolliver, a government agent who's all gung-ho for one of the craziest plans ever devised by man…or more specifically in this case, a woman.

The female in question is Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), a manipulative political figure who's devised a wild idea to protect the earth from any meta-humans with delusions of grandeur. Waller wants to assemble Task Force X, a team of expendable psychos and supervillains who have no choice but to risk their lives when the aliens and demons show up, ready to rock. And as for Dexter Tolliver, he's basically Waller's salesman, pitching her plan to the Pentagon and asking the skeptical generals, "What if Superman had decided to fly down, rip off the roof of the White House, and grab the president of the United States right out of the Oval Office? Who would have stopped him?"

That's a pretty good point, but still, it seems like you'd want someone a little more trustworthy than Deadshot or Harley Quinn. But beggars can't be choosers, especially when there are ancient witches running around, laying waste to Midway City. When you've got no other choice, a Suicide Squad will have to do. As for Harbour, he only pops up a few more times throughout the movie, dropping an occasional line here and there. But rest easy, Chief Hopper fans, because the actor will get his own chance to save the world pretty soon, right after he slaps on some red skin paint and morphs into Hellboy.