David Harbour Biography

Actor (1975–)
David Harbour is an American actor, best known for his breakout role in the hit Netflix series 'Stranger Things' as local police chief Jim Hopper.

Who Is David Harbour?

David Harbour is an American actor with a long list of credits who made the leap from character actor to major star in his early 40s. His star turn started in 2016 on the basis of Netflix's Stranger Things, playing the role of police chief Jim Hopper, and taking over Ron Perlman's role in the upcoming third installment of the movie franchise Hellboy

David Harbour Photo

David Harbour attends SAG-AFTRA Foundation Conversations with 'Stranger Things' at SAG-AFTRA Foundation Screening Room on August 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.


Harbour stands at 6 feet 3 inches.

When and Where Was Harbour Born?

Harbour was born in New York City on April 10, 1975.

'Stranger Things'

Harbour’s role in Stranger Things raised his profile in a way he never anticipated. Among other things, he received his first-ever Emmy nomination, for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama, in 2017 for the show’s first season (he lost to John Lithgow, who won for The Crown).

Harbour was well-aware that his career got a boost from the sci-fi horror 80s-themed hit. “God, yeah, I’ve really done so much work and no one’s cared," Harbour told an interviewer on National Public Radio in 2017. “I have people who are like, ‘Oh, man, you were good in that,’ but at the time I never had anything hit.”

'Stranger Things' SAG Award Speech

In January 2017, the show provided Harbour with a forum in which to speak out publicly in a televised speech that was widely praised at the time. The event was the annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, televised live on TNT, and the cast of Stranger Things had just won an award for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series. Harbour made an acceptance speech on behalf of the cast.

“In light of all that’s going on in the world today,” he said, “it’s difficult to celebrate the already celebrated Stranger Things. Great acting can change the world. We call to arms our fellow craftsmen and women to go deeper and through our hearts battle against fear, self-centeredness [and our] predominantly narcissistic culture. And through our craft cultivate an empathetic and more understanding society by revealing intimate truths that serve as a forceful reminder to folks that when they feel broken and afraid and tired they are not alone. We are united in that we are all human beings and we are all together on this horrible painful, joyous exciting and mysterious ride that is being alive.”

The SAG awards in 2017 took place nine days after the inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the United States.

Harbour Snags 'Hellboy'

Harbour filmed his Hellboy role in 2017 and 2018. It was Harbour’s first time headlining a big-screen action movie. As a working actor for years before Stranger Things and Hellboy, he was well aware of how the TV show and the movie would change his career.

“The great thing about Stranger Things is that a lot of times as an actor you have to act just to make money,” Harbour told The Hollywood Reporter in December 2017. “I was doing plays in New York for $200 a week and couldn’t pay my rent. And now I’m at a place where I have enough money and don’t have to take the roles, and basically what I’m looking for is things likes Stranger Things and hopefully like Hellboy that have entertainment value but also [give] voice to a certain loner perversity that I want to embrace.”

Movies and TV Shows

In addition to Kinsey and A Walk Among the Tombstones, Harbour’s other films have included War of the Worlds (2005), Brokeback Mountain (2005), the James Bond movie Quantum of Solace (2008) and Revolutionary Road (also 2008).

Before Stranger Things, he was seen in a number of TV series in which he played regular or recurring roles, although most of the shows he was in were short-lived, including Pan Am (2012, ABC), Rake (2014, Fox) starring Greg Kinnear, and State of Affairs (2014-15, NBC) starring Katherine Heigl.

Harbour also had a prominent role in Aaron Sorkin’s HBO series about TV news, The Newsroom (2012-14).

Theater Credits

Settling in New York City after college, Harbour first pursued a career in the theater and was seen in small roles in a handful of plays including the 1999 Broadway revival of The Rainmaker starring Woody Harrelson

Like so many other New York-based actors, Harbour’s first TV credit was a role in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in 2002. His first movie was 2004’s Kinsey, in which he played Robert Kinsey, younger brother of the movie’s title character, sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, played by Liam Neeson. Harbour would work with Neeson again in the 2014 movie thriller A Walk Among the Tombstones.


Ever since his first theater, movie and TV roles, Harbour has struck a balance in his career between all three. As of 2013, he had appeared in eight Broadway plays including revivals of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (2005), for which he was nominated for a Tony Award, and Glengarry Glen Ross (2012-13). He also appeared in a Broadway production of William Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice starring Al Pacino (2010).

While performing in another Shakespeare play in New York in 2016 – a Shakespeare in the Park production of Troilus and Cressida, Harbour tore his Achilles tendon. The irony was: He was playing the role of Achilles at the time. “It’s pretty ridiculous, but if you have to tear your Achilles tendon, that’s the place to do it, right?” he told an interviewer in 2017.

Early Life

Harbour was born in New York City on April 10, 1975, and spent at least part of his childhood in Armonk, N.Y., in neighboring Westchester County. After graduating from Byram Hills High School in Armonk, he attended Dartmouth College, where he majored in drama and Italian. He graduated in 1997. He lives primarily in New York and is unmarried.

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