David Harbour: ‘Actors Have an Obligation to Speak Out Against Injustice’
Stranger Things star David Harbour believes actors have an “obligation” to speak out about the issues they find important.
The 41-year-old actor hit headlines with his impassioned speech at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards in January, in which he vowed to “shelter freaks and outcasts, those who have no home. We will get past the lies. We will hunt monsters!”
With the Academy Awards set to take place this Sunday, Harbour is hopeful that those honored will take the opportunity to address injustices they feel passionately about.
“I think actors and artists have an obligation to speak about where we are culturally at this moment in time and where we would like to take the culture,” he told the New York Daily News.
“If they have a problem with that, I don’t really know what to say to them.”
Propelled by the applause and cheering from the audience at the SAG Awards, Harbour became increasingly loud and animated as he continued his speech, telling the crowd: “When we are at a loss amidst the hypocrisy and the casual violence of certain individuals and institutions, we will, as per Chief Hopper (his Stranger Things character), punch some people in the face when they seek to destroy the weak and the disenfranchised and the marginalized!”
His powerful words caused co-star Winona Ryder to pull some hilarious facial expressions as she stood alongside him on stage, leading to millions of memes.
However, the actor insisted he never meant to comment on the political outlook of the world with his speech, instead taking aim at the cultural implications that new U.S. president Donald Trump’s policies will have.
“The thing is, my speech was not political,” he added. “It was interpreted politically, but the speech was cultural.”
While Harbour has made his name on the small screen, with his role in Netflix smash hit Stranger Things his most famous to date, he isn’t a fan of some vehicles on the box — particularly reality television.
In fact, while he didn’t mention any reality shows by name, he insisted this genre of television is contributing to the public belief that celebrities lack any intelligence when it comes to understanding the world around them.
“These reality shows are contributing to a narcissism that as artists we have to battle against,” he said.