David Harbour Channeled 'Harrison Ford Essence' For His Role In Stranger Things

By now it should be no surprise that Matt and Ross Duffer pulled from an iconic '80s action star in their direction of David Harbour. I was lucky enough to interview the boys when they were doing press for "Stranger Things" season 3, and that conversation quickly turned to what they called "the two Stephens/Stevens," meaning King and Spielberg, and how influential those two guys have been to both "Stranger Things" and the Duffers themselves.

There's a lot of King in "Stranger Things." A girl with telekinetic powers being chased by a shady government organization is straight out of "Firestarter," for instance. But for as much King as there is in the show, there's an equal amount of Amblin. The kids playing D&D is straight out of "E.T." and one of the stronger influences on season 3 was "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," a movie I've gone to bat for many times over the years.

Turns out Indiana Jones wasn't just a tonal inspiration for "Stranger Things," but Harrison Ford as the famous adventuring archeologist was a cornerstone to their approach to Sheriff Jim Hopper as well, and it's not just that both characters wear a cool hat, either.

It's not the years, it's the mileage

Looking at the man in the picture above, we have to acknowledge that Dr. Jones isn't the only influence on Hopper. The Hawkins Police patch and his instantly recognizable Hawkins Police vehicle are almost 1:1 lifts from "Jaws." Roy Scheider's Chief Brody served as a pretty direct inspiration for Hopper's look, but the Duffers insist they keep going back to Harrison Ford when directing Harbour and you can tell. 

Hopper is a man's man kind of dude, for one, and the Duffers aren't afraid to put him through the wringer. The great thing about Indiana Jones is he can throw a punch, but he's not immortal. If you go back and watch those first three movies, in particular, Spielberg puts poor Harrison Ford through the wringer. Indy is beaten up a lot but always perseveres, just like Jim Hopper.

Speaking of throwing punches, that's another nod to Dr. Jones. The Duffers specifically said the reason why Hopper punches so many people is because Indiana Jones punches a lot of people. It's a small thing, but an important one for their star who actually complained about not getting to throw fists enough in season 2.

"David was upset because, in season 2, he didn't get to punch anybody. And so in season 3 there's a ton of Hopper punching people. David is really good at capturing the Harrison Ford essence. Not many modern actors are able to do it, aside from Harrison Ford, of course, who is the one and only Indiana Jones."

And they're right. There are not a lot of actors who can scratch that Harrison Ford in his prime itch, but Harbour's doing a hell of a great job at it. Relatable, cool, a little goofy, but deadly serious when he has to be ... all the ingredients are there, which could help explain why Hopper is such a fan favorite.