The debut of Stranger Things on Netflix resulted in the series becoming one of the biggest sensations of 2016, with star David Harbour being one of the people most surprised by its success, as he originally thought it was bound for disaster. It's easy to see his trepidation, as the series lacks any major stars and largely features an unknown cast of young actors, with creators Matt and Ross Duffer having previously worked on the underseen series Wayward Pines. Ultimately, it was the fact that the series mostly came out of nowhere that led audiences to connect with the surprisingly compelling sci-fi series, paving a path towards it becoming even more popular with each season.
"I was sure it was gonna be a complete disaster and a big failure, because, before it came out — I remember when we were shooting, too, we would all sit around talking about how terrible it was gonna be, mainly because of my performance," Harbour joked with The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. "I thought I was tanking the whole show. And then, before it came out, you normally see things on buses. I live in New York, I'm wandering around, buses, phone booths, there's ads for shows. Not a single ad. Three weeks before the show, a week before the show, and I was doing a play with a friend of mine who's on a very successful television program, and I said to him, 'No ads, no ads. I guess they're doing some kind of new campaign.' He said, 'No, they're burying the show.' And I said, 'What does that mean, burying the show? I don't understand your television lingo.' And he said, 'They hate the show, they're trying to make sure no one watches it.'"
Luckily, Harbour didn't have to wait too long to discover that the series was a hit, as he had countless acquaintances from his past reaching out to him to show their support.
"And then the show came out and it was an overnight zeitgeist success," the actor recalled. "My phone, I have a bunch of telephone numbers in my phone for people that, like, I'll have a driver, five years ago, say, 'Put my number in your phone,' and I put it in the phone, and then I would get texts from drivers from the last 10 years, 'I saw Stranger Things. It's so good!'"
He added, "That's when I kinda knew that it took off, but before that, I really thought it was gonna be nothing and then people sort of embraced it and it became this grassroots event and it's very gratifying."
The first three seasons of Stranger Things are currently available on Netflix. Season Four is slated to shoot next year.
Are you surprised the series was a success?