David Harbour on ‘Stranger Things’ and the perfect Sheriff Hopper costume
(CNN) — “Stranger Things” first took over Netflix this summer and now it’s taking over Halloween.
Celebrities, fans and even CNN reporters are dressing up like “Stranger Things” characters this holiday. So how do you pull off strange, just right?
David Harbour, who plays Sheriff Jim Hopper on the series, spoke with CNN earlier this month about the perfect Sheriff Hopper costume and what’s next for the spooky hit series.
The conversation below includes spoilers from Season 1.
“Stranger Things” really was a huge surprise hit. When did you know it was going to be a phenomenon?
The first weekend that it came out, I kind of watched it with everybody. I hadn’t seen a lot of the episodes and then my phone started lighting up. I got all these texts from like random people that I met at a party three years ago, or like kids I knew in middle school. People were really reacting to it in a really positive way. I’ve done a lot of work, and that had never happened to me before. That was when I was like, “Wow. This is something special.”
What really made you want to play Sheriff Hopper?
It’s such a sophisticated, three-dimensional character and what the character goes through is so amazing. One of the things I love is people kind of tweet out in the second episode, they’re like, “I hate this guy.” Then by episode four or five, they’re like, “I love Hop. He’s my guy.”
He has all these issues and all this pain that he masks with sarcasm and with this acting out and this shtick that he’s developed. Then you start to unravel that throughout the series, and you start to see that this is just a broken man who’s trying to survive. That type of complexity opens up empathy for all sorts of people. That’s wonderful and rare to be able to play a character that rich.
What are you hoping for Hopper in the next season?
There’s some interesting things that we leave off with at the end of season one. He gets into the car after he visits Will in the hospital and he goes back to the lab. So we’re not done with the lab, and we’re not done with Hopper’s involvement in terms of that upside down world, and what they’ve created, and what they’ve opened.
He also leaves Eggo waffles and a plate of food in a box in the woods, right? Presumably, the Eggo waffles are for Eleven. In some sense, he has some sort of knowledge or understanding that she’s out there, or some form of her is out there. My interpretation was that he feels guilty for selling her out and that he brings her that food to try to get back in good with her.
I want to peel back the onion on him and I want to understand more about his backstory. I want to understand more about this death of his child, which I think there is more story there.
What do you think that “Stranger Things” says about our culture right now that this nostalgic series has been so popular?
There’s this quality that I used to experience as a child when I went to the movies. It’s called magic of the movies. You’d go to a movie and it would feel like a magical experience. I think some people have the experience of “Stranger Things” being this magical thing because even in how good it is, it’s kind of clunky. It’s not slick but it has real heart. I think it has real soul in terms of the performances, in terms of the story, and in terms of the way it’s shot.
I think as a nation, we are tired of our entertainment being so produced. I think we long for people who just genuinely want to touch people, genuinely want to move people. We were scared. We didn’t know if what we were making was good. We just wanted to tell a good story. We were all kind of humbled. I hope we maintain that for Season 2 with the success of this. But I hope we go back [to production] and we’re just like, “We just want to tell you a rip-roaring story that’s like a rip-roaring good time, and also really punch you in the gut.” Hopefully we can do that.
So what’s your advice for pulling off the perfect Sheriff Hopper costume this Halloween?
First of all, we’re going to start a little low on the body. We’re going to start with the hand, and I think there should be a nice Schlitz beer in the hand — well cracked and foamy. I want you to put a pack of pills in your pocket. And then I want you to think about an angry look. I want you to think about a nice, wide-brimmed hat. And then, of course, I want you to have the fists good and ready for a nice right hook.