David Harbour Says Marvel Helped Him Get Over His Biggest Failure

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David Harbour said that playing Red Guardian for Marvel helped him get over the failure of Hellboy.

By Chad Langen
| Published

David Harbour is undoubtedly best known for his portrayal of Sheriff Jim Hopper on the wildly popular series Stranger Things on Netflix, but he’s ditching his badge for a jollier get up in the forthcoming action thriller Violent Night. While making the press rounds for the holiday flick, which arrives in theaters December 2, 2022, the actor sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to share what it was like playing a brutal version of Santa Claus. He also discussed his character Alexie Shostakov (aka Red Guardian) and how landing the role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe helped him to move past the disastrous 2019 reboot Hellboy.

As is the case with many interviews David Harbour participates in, Hellboy was a topic of discussion. The picture, which was supposed to serve as a reboot of the franchise originally launched by director Guillermo del Toro, ended up being a massive box office flop. After owning up to the fact that the film was a total failure, he admitted that landing the role of Red Guardian in the Marvel Cinematic Universe allowed him to move on from the disappointing feature.

“I mean, I don’t know that your palate is ever really cleansed,” said David Harbour. “Life is a series of failures and successes, both of which stay with you, but the failures, mainly lodge themselves deep into your core and remain there forever. So [Red Guardian] cleansed as much of my palate as possible,” he stated about his Marvel character.

Once he got past the sore subject of Hellboy, David Harbour declared his excitement for the upcoming Marvel flick Thunderbolts. The film is being directed by Jake Schreier, and like DC’s The Suicide Squad, it will center around a group of supervillains who are recruited to go on missions for the government. In addition to Harbour’s Red Guardian, the movie will feature Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, Olga Kurylenko as Taskmaster, Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes, Harrison Ford as Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross, and Wyatt Russell as John Walker.

David Harbour made his Marvel debut as Red Guardian in Black Widow, which served as an origin story for Scarlett Johansson’s character Natasha Romanoff, who was featured prominently in the first 3 phases of the MCU. The film sees the lethal assassin confront the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past surfaces. In addition to introducing Red Guardian, Black Widow also introduced Pugh’s Yelena Belova and Kurylenko’s Taskmaster.

While we wait for David Harbour to return as Red Guardian in the upcoming Marvel feature Thunderbolts, he’ll be sleighing and slaying as Old Saint Nick in the Tommy Wirkola-directed holiday action thriller Violent Night. The film follows a group of mercenaries who attack the estate of a wealthy family but unexpectedly face off against a brutal Santa Claus. Beverly D’Angelo, John Leguizamo, Cam Gigandet, and Brendan Fletcher also star in the forthcoming feature.

The 47-year-old actor will also return as Jim Hopper in the fifth and final season of Stranger Things, which is currently slated for a 2024 premiere. In fact, David Harbour has stated that he’ll be filming the next season of the popular Netflix series at the same he’s shooting Thunderbolts for Marvel, which is also scheduled to release in 2024. Needless to say, we’ll be seeing a lot of the actor in the near future.