David Harbour’s health has gone through a lot over the years. The actor from Stranger Things, who was once praised for his “Dad Bod,” has also put on and lost a lot of weight for roles.
Below, we talk about how the actor for Hellboy changed his body, from trying out for The Blob with, well, a bit of a paunch to losing weight and getting in shape to help his acting career.
He Once Celebrated His “Dad Body”
David discussed his prior “Dad Bod” on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in 2018, when the host revealed that David’s image appeared in the Merriam-Webster dictionary entry for the phrase.
“I mean, you know, some individuals get Emmys, some, you know…” David laughed at the joke and added that he was childless at the time.
Technically, you cannot have a dad bod! Stephen answered. “You just have a bod!”
“Or you’re such a phenomenal actor that you’ve studied fathers — and their bodies — so thoroughly that you’ve simply incorporated one,” he said. So it simply skips over the children section.
“How do you tell when you’ve attained the ‘Dad Bod’?” Then, Stephen inquired.
David quipped, “There was a time when I was asked to audition for ‘The Blob,’ a character in the ‘X-Men’ series who controls gravitational forces with his stomach.” “I recall that at the end of the audition, I lifted up my shirt a bit, gripped my stomach, and said, ‘I’ve got your blob right here!'”
“And the director was evidently extremely interested in me, because he invited me in for a meeting at this hotel, where we met, and I accompanied him, and he said, ‘David, we adore you, we think you’re great, you’re a great actor!'” We’re simply a little concerned that you won’t be able to carry this costume and aren’t healthy enough to play the part.'”
“And I responded, ‘So you’re saying I’m too overweight to play? “The Blob,” he laughed. “At that moment, I realized I had a ‘Dad Bod’!”
He Opens Up About His Weight Loss
In an interview with Page Six in the fall of 2021, David described how he achieved his physique – with jokes, of course.
“It’s simply not eating,” he explained. “It’s great. You try to do all of these different things, the protein and this and that, but in the end, you simply quit eating and lose weight.” He continued, “gaining weight is my favorite activity. I’m quite skilled at it.”
Despite this, he confessed it was “very painful” to remove it.
This weight drop was partially for his role as Jim Hopper in Stranger Things, which ended Season 3 with fans believing he was dead. The season finale revealed, however, that Hopper was alive in a Russian jail, which is why David had to make it appear as though he was an inmate.
“I think you’ll see, mentally and nutritionally, that it’s not very good for me,” he quipped, keeping his genuine, behind-the-scenes secrets, well, behind the scenes.
His Wife’s Reaction To His Weight Loss
David explained to the New York Times in June 2021 how he genuinely gained (and lost) weight for the role of Black Widow. “I thought, ‘Let’s utilize the weight.'” So I began to consume even more food. I reached 280 pounds, and I loved it,” he told the publication.
Around this time, he met his future wife, the British singer Lilly Allen, who truly admired his figure. He remarked, “It’s a testimonial to my overwhelming charisma that my wife met me at 280 pounds with this beard and hair.” We went on a date to the Wolseley restaurant in London, where she fell in love with me despite my physical and hair condition.
For the Marvel film, however, David’s Russian military character, Alexei Shostakov, was required to appear in multiple flashbacks to his youth, requiring the actor to lose weight.
“I told the first A.D. [assistant director], ‘Listen, we need to shoot the flashback scenes in the end, so that by the time the flashback scenes are shot, I’ll have lost weight and be thin.’ And he said, ‘You’ll never be skinny,'” the actor laughed and remembered.
“I was like, ‘Yes I will, man.’ And I lost almost sixty pounds throughout filming. The initial footage we captured was in a prison, so the belly you’re seeing is authentic. As we continued to film, I began to lose weight. I was simply famished during much of the shoot.”
Lilly supposedly had “mixed feelings” about her husband’s new appearance after he lost 60 pounds.
“She has mixed thoughts about it, to be honest. Which is a desirable position in a relationship,” he remarked. “It’s much better to begin the relationship from this position than to be the young, gorgeous buck and watch yourself rot with time.”
Lilly appears to always give her husband the sweetest praises, regardless of his size! In an interview with PEOPLE in 2019 following his selection as one of their “Men of the Year,” he revealed that the “Smile” singer once described him as “so handsome it was outrageous.”