David Harbour slams “nonsense” method acting: “It’s dangerous & silly”

Cameron Frew
David Harbour as Hopper holding a sword in Stranger Things Season 4
Netflix

Stranger Things star David Harbour isn’t an advocate of method acting, believing it to be “dangerous” and “silly.”

In response to Dustin Hoffman’s strenuous efforts to appear haggard in Marathon Man, Lawrence Olivier famously quipped: “My dear boy, why don’t you just try acting?”

Method acting is hard to define in one simple statement. In essence, it’s the practice of identifying with a role beyond learning the lines and a few tricks. You want to not only emotionally resonate with the character, but basically become them. Their words, fictional lives, and backstories should be just as lived in as your own.

Christian Bale is an example of a method actor who goes the distance, having lost and gained jaw-dropping amounts of weight for roles. Jim Carrey notably went all in on playing Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon. And then there’s Jared Leto’s antics on Suicide Squad.

Ultimately, it’s all “nonsense” to Stranger Things star, David Harbour.

David Harbour brands method acting “dangerous and silly”

In an interview with GQ, Harbour discussed the earlier days of his career in theatre; specifically, his lead role in Macbeth, for which he considered a method approach.

He said: “When I was younger – it’s so embarrassing – but I remember playing that famous Scottish king. And being like, ‘I’m gonna kill a cat’ or something. ‘I’m gonna go murder something to know what it feels like to murder.’

“I didn’t actually do it, obviously. Not only is that [method acting] stuff silly, it’s dangerous, and it actually doesn’t produce good work.”

Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood.
Miramax Films
David Harbour praised Daniel Day-Lewis, but said his process sounds like “nonsense.”

Harbour highlighted the “extraordinary” work of three-time Oscar-winner Daniel Day-Lewis, describing him as the “preeminent, respectable example” of method acting.

“He’s an extraordinary actor who I’m captivated and fascinated by. [But] when he explains his process it sounds like nonsense to me,” he added.

David Harbour explains weight loss process for Stranger Things Season 4

When Stranger Things picks up with Hopper in Season 4, he’s in Russia – and drastically slimmer. Naturally, being a prisoner of war would see you lose a few pounds, but it was a “hard process” for the actor.

During an appearance on BBC Breakfast, he explained: “So this past season I lost 80lb. At the end of Season 3 I was about 270lb and when we came into this season I was 190lb.

“It’s not easy, it’s a lot of not eating when you lose that much weight, and being hungry. That’s the secret, if you’re curious about the diet secret, it’s just not eating food.

“It’s demanding, but it’s also kind of fun. Because I like being a chameleon, I like disappearing into other lives, it’s why I got into acting. So the further you can go with any of those components is great. You do it emotionally but also physically.”

Stranger Things Season 4 is available to stream in its entirety on Netflix now. 

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