Ahead of Season 3 of Stranger Things (which won’t be dropping anytime soon, considering production started in late April), David Harbour, who plays Sheriff Hopper in the critically acclaimed Netflix drama, opened up about what it was like to film the first season of the show and how the experience impacted his mental health.
During a new "Actors on Actors" segment by Variety, Twin Peaks’s Kyle Maclachlan interviewed Harbour and asked about what it felt like to play Hopper, a character that goes through a particularly tough time in a show all about loss. “As an actor, you welcome these opportunities, but at the same time I got to carry this, I got to feel this every time I come to work,” Maclachlan said.
“The first season was the most miserable time in my life,” Harbour said. “It was sort of the greatest time in my life, too, but I just wanted to work on it so hard.”
Harbour remembers feeling like he finally got a “chance at the pro-ball” and wanting to “sacrifice six months of [his] life to have something resonate very deeply, if possible.”
“We went down to Atlanta to shoot it, and I had very little interaction with anyone,” Harbour said. “I just would sit in my house, and be very depressed. I would rarely go out. I would think a lot about the character.”
“I started to learn the ukulele a little bit, so I’d play weird songs on the ukulele and just sit,” he added.
“I remember when we wrapped, I drove back from Atlanta to New York with my friend, and it was the oddest thing. I’m normally a pretty loquacious, fun person, and I got in that car and I couldn’t even talk,” he said. “I remember feeling … this deep insecurity that nothing I have to say is interesting, or important, or fun.”
Harbour then connected this ability to being “built like an actor,” and expressed being a “weird, perverse joy” at being able to “consciously walk into tragedy” as a result of his profession.
Harbour recently spoke out about his mental health in the WTF podcast with Marc Maron, when he revealed he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 25.
You can check out Maclachlan and Harbour’s full interview over at Variety.