Being nominated for a 2005 Tony Award for his role in Broadway's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?;" co-starring with Al Pacino on Broadway in 2010's revival of "The Merchant of Venice;" working with Madonna on the set of her 2011 directorial debut "W.E.;" yes, David Harbour's acting career has worked out nicely. The native New Yorker studied Italian and drama at Dartmouth College, and made his Broadway debut in 1999 with a role in "The Rainmaker" before jumping to TV in 2002 on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC, 1999- ). The rest of the decade saw the strong-featured Harbour land memorable supporting roles in the biopic "Kinsey" (2004), the Bond adventure "Quantum of Solace" (2008), and the Oscar-nominated "Revolutionary Road" (2008), all while establishing a successful theater career. After showing an unexpected comedic side in his role opposite Pacino's hotheaded Shylock, Harbour nabbed supporting roles in "W.E" and "End of Watch" (2012), as well as on HBO's "The Newsroom" (2012-14) and the streaming hit "Stranger Things" (Netflix 2016- ). He may not have been a household name, but David Harbour brought an intensity and intelligence to his work that has keep the audience wanting more.
Born to two commercial real estate agents in 1974, Harbour grew up interested in anything creative and challenging. He learned how to juggle and ride a unicycle (though not as well he wanted), and decided to study both drama and Italian at New Hampshire's Dartmouth College. A steady presence in local New England productions during his time at the Ivy League school, he landed his first Broadway play (the Depression-era "The Rainmaker") just two years out of college, and soon after made his TV debut as a child murderer on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." In 2004, Harbour portrayed a relative of controversial sex researcher Alfred Kinsey (Liam Neeson) in "Kinsey," and had a fling with Jake Gyllenhaal's conflicted cowboy in the surprise 2005 hit "Brokeback Mountain," before later earning a Tony nomination for his role as a biology professor in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" As if those roles were not varied enough, Harbour next joined the big-budget Bond adventure as a scheming CIA chief, and traveled back to the 1950s as Kate Winslet's admiring next-door neighbor in "Revolutionary Road."
But while Hollywood was paying the bills, Harbour still felt something was missing. So in 2010 he returned to the stage as the cash-strapped Bassanio in the wildly popular production of "The Merchant of Venice," staged in New York City's Central Park. The rush of live theater propelled him into another stretch of big-screen work. In 2011 he joined the cast of "W.E." as Ernest, Wallis Simpson's good-natured second husband, and later portrayed a battle-scarred cop in the underperforming but critically acclaimed "End of Watch." After the cancellation of his retro airline soap opera "Pan Am" (ABC, 2012), Harbour found refuge on the stage in a revival of "Glengarry Glen Ross" and in his role as smooth-talking news anchor Elliot Hirsch on Aaron Sorkin's "The Newsroom" (HBO, 2012-14). After co-starring on the short-lived political drama "State of Affairs" (NBC 2014-15), Harbour co-starred on the '80s-set thriller "Stranger Things" (Netflix 2016- ). During this period, he kept his hand in big-screen roles as well, appearing in the noir mystery "A Walk Among the Tombstones" (2014), the Whitey Bulger biopic "Black Mass" (2015) and high-profile superhero ensemble "Suicide Squad" (2016).
Cast (Feature Film)
Landed first film role in the biopic "Kinsey."
Portrayed Leonardo DiCaprio's neighbor in "Revolutionary Road."
Cast opposite Al Pacino in the Broadway revival of "The Merchant of Venice."
Appeared in Madonna's "W.E."