Just when you thought the real-life relationship between the actors who play Eleven and Chief Jim Hopper on Stranger Things had reached peak adorable, it got ratcheted up another notch. David Harbour's Critics Choice Awards speech after being named Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series was an ode to Millie Bobby Brown, and the relationship between their characters. Harbour described the Season 2 story arc with such feeling, it's almost hard to remember that he's not actually a gruff, small-town police chief fostering an orphan with psychic powers.
If you've yet to watch the Netflix series, bookmark this page and spend the weekend catching up, because Harbour's speech contains spoilers, and if you haven't already heard it from literally everyone you know, it's a must-see.
The desperation and fear Harbour referred to isn't solely about Eleven's telekinectic powers, and her role in saving the town from monsters. The mysterious girl who was raised as a science experiment has become a stand-in for Hopper's own daughter, Sara, who he lost to cancer at age 5. He may have originally taken Eleven in because he felt it was his duty as a police officer, but over time, their relationship has evolved, and he's afraid of losing her. Harbour continued:
Again, Eleven's role is twofold: that "wound" she's charged with healing could refer to the town's, but she's also healing Hopper's emotional wounds at the same time. That's a lot of work for a kid, but both Eleven and Brown, who plays her, are strong and smart enough to handle the job. Harbour closed his speech by thanking three women: "my sparring partner, the gifted, the incomparable Millie Bobby Brown; my colleague, and the light on long nights of shooting, the incandescent Winona Ryder; and my mother."
Brown later tweeted that Harbour's speech made her cry, adding, "Thank you for inspiring me each day and making me realize how lucky I am to be doing this amazing job called acting." It's clear that the adoptive father-daughter dynamic has seeped into the actors' real lives. In a recent interview with Insider, Harbour said it was tough on him to film a scene in which the two had a heated argument, but "I wanted to treat Millie with the respect she deserves as my female costar, and really give her my all and my power, and she's able to give it right back. So that was a very complicated day." Speaking with Variety, Harbour said he's protective of his costar, and though she usually has her parents and adult sister with her on set, he's ready to serve as a backup any time. "I tell you what," he said, "She's got me. And I'm the biggest curmudgeon around." Best fake dad ever.
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