Though he’s no stranger to television, you
probably recognize American actor David Harbour
as Stranger Things’ chain-smoking lawman Chief
His character in the hit Netflix series is
a hero of sorts…but not exactly a superhero.
There’s one comics-derived role that’s perfect
for him, though: the cigar-smoking half-demon
Since the first image of Harbour as Hellboy
for the upcoming reboot went live, the internet
has buzzed with conjecture as to how Stranger
Things’ soft sheriff got so swole.
Well, wonder no longer!
Here’s how Harbour shed that extra weight
and put on some powerful red muscle.
Prior to landing the Hellboy reboot, David
Harbour’s relationship with the gym wasn’t
In fact, it was virtually non-existent—a
fact unsurprising to anyone who’s ever seen
Chief Hopper washing down his Monday-morning
medication with last night’s beer and eating
donuts for breakfast.
In an interview on his trainer’s official
website, Harbour explained:
“I was a chubby kid growing up.
Straight out of college, I did my first play,
which I got pretty in shape for, but I let
that go completely.
So from about the time I was 26 years old,
to about now, I haven’t really been training
at the gym seriously at all.”
Harbour is now in his 40s, but he’s proven
that it’s never too late to get back in shape.
Going from playing a police chief with a beer
belly to a jacked-up half-demon superhero
is no easy feat—and probably one Harbour
couldn’t accomplish by himself.
In order to go from big softie to Brother
Red, he enlisted the help of one of Hollywood’s
biggest names in the training biz: Don Saladino..
Saladino’s client list is extensive, and includes
superhero actors like Sebastian Stan and Ryan
Reynolds, among others.
As Harbour explained.
“There is something very special about Don
as a person and a trainer.
He brings great creativity to the workout
regimes, which in the past have usually terrified
and bored me.
His methods are unique, as well as heavily
Not only that, but they are even fun, despite
the challenges you are taking on.”
As is often the case with big-name superhero
films, David Harbour needed to get into Hellboy
shape in a very short period of time.
Thanks to Don Saladino’s official Instagram,
we know he put Harbour through a rigorous
10-week boot camp, and that was just to kick
“Getting David ready for this role was an
absolute blast for me.
The sessions weren’t easy, but like all of
my clients, I made sure that he felt great
at the end of every day.
By the end he not only put on some real muscle,
but also was more flexible than ever.”
As for Harbour, well, his goals were a little
more down to earth.
“I’d like to discover that I have abs!
Even if those abs are a bit fleshy.”
In an interview with The New York Post, Saladino
laid out the tailored regimen that took Harbour
from Hopper to Hellboy.
First, they increased the frequency of his
workouts to “…five to six days a week in
the nine weeks before Hellboy.”
But the real key to success, Saladino revealed,
is a move he calls “the suitcase carry,” According
to the all-star trainer, this workout hits
“nearly every muscle group in the body, from
the glutes to the biceps.”
Though it may sound grueling, Saladino said
Harbour “never complained about anything”
and that he “just loved how strong he was
Hey, who wouldn’t?
Most superhero actors training for the big
screen are not only trying to get ripped–they’re
trying to look good doing it.
He trained to get scary.
And in order to look scary, he had to look
“We didn’t want like an abercrombie, like
You needed to look like – scary!”
Harbour agreed, saying:
“In terms of Hellboy, like he’s a big demon
monster but he really knows how to fight.
I did want to develop mainly power and strength
so that when I’m doing these movements and
doing this role that you believe it.
Like, you believe that this guy, when he hits
you, hits you like a truck.”
He stayed motivated
As any actor who’s ever embarked on a superhero
training regimen will tell you, motivation
David Harbour found motivation through the
people who’ll flock to theaters to see the
“The fans are what are keeping me motivated
As well as the audience that will come see
the movie and the haters out there who have
decided to make their opinion known before
a scene has even been shot.
I’ve got something to prove to all three.
I really want to do justice to this character
and create a Hellboy that everyone can get
Room to grow
Despite his intense 10-week boot camp with
one of Hollywood’s most in-demand trainers,
David Harbour isn’t actually getting as big
as you might think.
In fact—as you may have guessed from the
first images of the actor as Hellboy—he’s
actually wearing a bodysuit.
Harbour went on LIVE with Kelly and Ryan to
explain his dismay at not being able to post
Instagram selfies like his other superhero
“Well the thing is I thought, here we go – I
get to do a superhero movie.
I’m gonna do the Chris Pratt thing where you
buff out and take selfies in front of the
“And the producers are now like if you lose
weight you’re not going to fit in the suit.”
Harbour is working out, but he also gets to
eat all the junk food he wants.
Sure beats whatever Chris Pratt’s been eating,
no matter how many Instagram selfies he gets
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