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David Harbour on How His Stranger Things Role Prepared Him for Fatherhood: It 'Opened My Heart'

People logo People 7/29/2021 Gabrielle Chung
David Harbour wearing a suit and tie: Getty Images David Harbour © Provided by People Getty Images David Harbour

David Harbour feels like a changed man thanks to his role of Jim Hopper on Stranger Things.

The 46-year-old actor opened up about his character during Tuesday's episode of the That Scene with Dan Patrick podcast on Amazon Music, sharing that Hopper's story arc of becoming a father figure to Millie Bobby Brown's Eleven very much inspired his own journey to start a family.

Reflecting on his blended family with wife Lily Allen and her two daughters Marnie Rose, 8, and Ethel Mary, 9 — whom the singer shares with ex Sam Cooper — Harbour said that "TV definitely helped me in my life."

"I'm very much a New York sort of city rat. I liked my freedom, my independence. And then it was really this part that did change a lot of that perspective," he explained. "The show sort of opened my heart in a lot of different ways, and one of the ways that it did was it started to make me realize how thin my existence was without a family."

David Harbour looking at the camera: Netflix David Harbour in Stranger Things © Provided by People Netflix David Harbour in Stranger Things

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Harbour went on to say that his character "maturing into a father" on-screen was also "something clearly my subconscious was crying out to do."

"I think that's partially why things are so successful because there's some unique alchemy between the performer and the role," Harbour continued. "I feel like there was something in Hopper that had a deep need for family, and there was something in me that had it too but that I wasn't even aware of."

"As I began to explore this role, the role allowed me to do that in my real life," he said.

Video: David Harbour Hated 'Stranger Things' Family Dog and Requested It Be Killed Off | THR News (The Hollywood Reporter)

David Harbour Hated 'Stranger Things' Family Dog and Requested It Be Killed Off | THR News
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While Hopper may have sparked Harbour's quest into fatherhood, Allen's daughters helped him realize that he wanted to marry their mom.

During an appearance on  Jimmy Kimmel Live! last month, Harbour — who tied the knot with Allen, 36, last September — revealed that the two girls played an important part in the couple's decision to wed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We got engaged right before the pandemic. Then the pandemic hit and nothing was happening," the Black Widow star said of his wedding plans with Allen.

"We were riding around beginning of pandemic — she has two kids, these beautiful daughters, 8 and 9 — and we were riding bikes out in the country trying to figure out what we were gonna do for the next year or however long it was going to take. And the little one was riding along and she was going like, 'David, dad, David, dad.' Because the D got her confused," he recalled. "And the older one got very upset with that, which I understand. She was like, 'He's not our dad! He's not our dad!' "

David Harbour wearing a suit and tie © Getty Images David Harbour

Harbour continued: "And then younger one was like, 'Well what is he? He's kind of our dad.' She's like, 'No he's not, he's our stepdad.' And she goes, 'What is he?' And she goes, 'He's just some guy in our lives!' "

David Harbour, Lily Allen are posing for a picture: Amy Sussman/WireImage David Harbour and Lily Allen © Provided by People Amy Sussman/WireImage David Harbour and Lily Allen

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According to Harbour, that conversation confirmed it was time for him to take the next step.

"I was like, 'I need to marry this woman,' " he joked. "Because the emotional fallout ... "

Harbour — who was first romantically linked to Allen in January 2019 — also sang his wife's praises during conversation with PEOPLE in December.

"I married a beautiful, incredible woman who I love," he said. "I have never met someone who is so deeply kind as her. I've never felt so taken care of and cared for by another human being."

"She really is just a deeply kind individual and I love that about her," he added.


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