David Harbour is enjoying a great period of newfound recognition in his career, currently starring as Chief Jim Hopper in Stranger Things and soon to be our next Hellboy in the upcoming reboot. But as with any actor on the road to success, he's faced some difficult situations.
Harbour gave an interview to TheWrap and revealed he auditioned to play the Blob in a Wolverine movie a few years ago. Given how there's only one Wolverine film featuring Blob, it's easy to assume that was #XMenOriginsWolverine. According to him, he encountered one of the casting directors for the film, who was interested in having him play the gigantic mutant:
“I auditioned for one of the ‘Wolverine’ movies and I bumped into one of the casting directors on the lot [...] she was like — I’m never in town, I’m always in New York — ‘Oh my god, David Harbour, you’re in town! I have the perfect role for you.' I was like, ‘Great, I need to work, what do you got?’ She’s like ‘THE BLOB!'”
The casting director explained the role to him, and clarified that her thinking of him for the part was not because of his weight, but because of his size:
“‘The Blob?’ She was like, ‘Yeah, it’s like an X-Men, he’s like big, fat and controls gravity’ and I was like ‘Okay, wow, that’s flattering.’ And she was like, ‘no, no, it’s not that you’re fat, it’s just that we need a big guy to wear the suit.’
Getting a casting director to be interested in you is quite an achievement. Unfortunately, Harbour's chance to land the Blob didn't last, because of an ugly element of Hollywood that never seems to go away: Its obsession with physical perfection.
Harbour Lost The Role To A Joke That Went Sideways
Once he was done with the audition, in a good mood and confident he'd given it a great shot, Harbour approached the director and the casting people to make a joke. He lifted his shirt, squeezed his belly and said:
“I got your Blob right here!”
Except...the joke didn't land as Harbour hoped. Instead, it got him a meeting with the director, who told him the studio had concerns about his health after seeing his belly and were therefore moving forward without him:
“I just made a stupid joke and then they called me and the director, we met at like a hotel, and he was like, ‘David, look, you’re wonderful, we really think you’re just a great actor, we’re just concerned… we’re really concerned. I was like, ‘Why, what’s your concern? I’m good to go. I’m available, let’s do this!’ And they were like, ‘no, it’s just, you lifted up your shirt and we saw the… we’re just a little worried about your health.'”
Understandably so, Harbour was shocked:
“I was like, ‘Wait a minute, dude, pause for one second. You are telling me I’m too fat to play The Blob? That’s awesome, I have to get the f— back to New York.’ That’s my audition — so I didn’t get The Blob.”
Harbour's comments reflect similar ones that actor Sam Claflin made earlier this week about his own experiences with body-shaming during auditions. Chris Pratt has also recounted times he'd been told by casting agents and producers that he was too fat for certain roles. And The Flash actor Grant Gustin has reminded people a few times that it goes the other way, too: Not only are male actors body-shamed for being too heavy, in an entertainment culture driven by impossibly perfect superheroes and fantasy roles, being too skinny gets them grief, too.
Body-shaming is an issue that we've been used to hearing about from actresses; it's not as often we think about it happening to male actors, too. It's refreshing that so many actors have been open about their experiences with it. The more who speak out about it, the better. Now we can add #DavidHarbour to the list.
Would you have liked to see David Harbour as Blob? What did you think about how he lost the role? Let me know in the comments!