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David Harbour talks season three of Stranger Things, his Super Bowl ad and penguins

Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan

David Harbour really wanted to dance with penguins. So he did what any actor starring in one of the most successful TV shows of the past five years would do: He asked his 810,000 Twitter followers for help.

“Hey Greenpeace, how many retweets to send me some place to tell emperor penguin couples I think they have terrific parenting ideologies?,” the 42-year-old actor, who plays Police Chief Jim Hopper on Stranger Things, tweeted a few weeks ago. In response, Greenpeace requested at least 200,000 retweets. The message was shared 387,000 times and Harbour is gearing up to fly to Antarctica to make his dreams come true later this week.

The much anticipated trip is the reason why the actor might actually miss this year’s Super Bowl—“On February 4, I will be in Chile [getting ready] to get on the Greenpeace boat!,” he tells us. A shame, considering the fact that he’ll be starring in a Tide ad that is set to run during the sporting event.

Harbour told us about said commercial and more (yes, including season three of Stranger Things) during a recent phone call. Read on, now: 

You're about to head to the Antarctic to dance with penguins—all thanks to Twitter. How has social media changed the world we live in?
It’s a really interesting frontier that we’re still exploring and my relationship to it has gone through many different stages. I think silliness is kind of important in the interaction and I also think what’s important is that people don’t feel manipulated, that they just feel like you’re not trying to sell them something, you’re not trying to do something to make yourself feel better about yourself or something like that. I think it’s a way to have fun, it’s a way to contribute to the world, it’s a way to make people feel good—which is ultimately what I want. I want human beings to feel happier and more empathetic and I was us all to come together in a global community and just set down these weapons and say 'Hey, [we’re all] human beings and we can still get along and have some fun.' It’s a very naive take but I think [the platform] allows me to have some of that naiveté [as it allowed me to] go dance with penguins!

David Harbour and Millie Bobby Brown/Season 2 Stranger Things

Photograph: Courtesy Netflix

Speaking of feeling good: Stranger Things takes us back to a “simpler,” at times even happier era. What can you tell us about season three of the show?
It’s so funny, I get in so much trouble revealing little things so my mouth has been completely shut any time someone asks. I will tell you this: I haven’t read the scripts yet but, from what [I heard so far] it sounds really, really fun and really amazing. I’m constantly surprised by these writers.

When will you start shooting?
I haven’t heard an official word.

Any funny stories from set?
You’re dealing [...] with hormonal teenage boys. I think it’s the most difficult time in a person’s life because your body is going through changes and you can’t keep up so there would be days when they would lose control of their bodies. We would be doing a take and then one of them would just fart and ruin the take. They are amazing in the opposite way, too. Whenever we have a good scene, we all huddle around and they all want to hug each other and then I’ll get involved in that too and it sort of warms my cold, dead heart to have a co-star come over and say: 'That was a great scene, come give me a hug!' It’s a very unique, singular experience to be working with these kids!

You’re in a Tide commercial that will be airing during the Super Bowl. Who will you be cheering for?
I’m not a huge football guy, to tell you the truth. I am pretty sure it’s not the one with the sticks and the ice and the puck—right? My involvement with the Super Bowl actually has been with the commercial. Being able to do [that] and do a fun thing that kids will watch is really exciting to me—especially with a big American brand like Tide. I think it’s really cool.

What other projects can we expect from you in the upcoming year?
We wrapped Hellboy in December and then I’m actually sort of just getting ready to go back into weird Twitter challenge work. I don’t think you’ll see much of David Harbour in 2018 but I’ll see you again in 2019.

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