How Hellboy Is Like Hamlet, According To David Harbour

Hellboy comics

The general moviegoing audience is already familiar with Hellboy thanks to the two Guillermo del Toro-directed movies from 2004 and 2008, but soon the Dark Horse Comics character will be back on the big screen, this time played by Stranger Things star David Harbour. We already know that Harbour's Hellboy looks like he jumped straight out of a comic book page, but it's not enough to just look like the character you're playing. The actor also needs to understand their essence and what makes them tick, especially when it comes to characters who hail from established source material. Fortunately for Hellboy fans, Harbour hasn't been skimping on the studying. Appearing to have a good grasp on Hellboy's appeal, he recently compared the protagonist's inner turmoil to William Shakespeare's classic tragedy Hamlet. Harbour said:

On a surface level, he's an adopted kid from hell. He was meant to bring about the apocalypse. Yet, he just wants to be a good guy and fight evil. But he has this destiny. That struggle is very Hamlet-esque, even having tones of Coriolanus, where you have this guy who cannot understand his own true nature. Those levels of complexity, if we can bring that to this movie, which we're trying to do, I think will be really rich.

After mentioning how the Hellboy reboot will see the eponymous protagonist going through more struggle and angst compared to Ron Perlman's iteration of the character, David Harbour gave the above quote to Independent, going so far as to note the shades of Coriolanus, one of the lesser-known Roman-themed Shakespearan tragedies. Harbour also mentioned beforehand that Shakespeare's stories have always been a big influence for him, as he likes to take "simple stories" and make them complex. Hellboy is certainly a fitting property to delve into the Shakespearan themes, especially since Hellboy's overarching narrative, like Hamlet, chronicles a struggle that's both personal and has wide-reaching consequences. Taking into account how Hellboy is also aiming for an R rating, it sounds like we can expect the reboot to have a particularly mature tone, though it will preferably not be any less action-packed.

Simply titled Hellboy, the reboot will "Red" and his allies will be battling a medieval witch who has awakened in contemporary times and wants to destroy humanity. Along with David Harbour as the lead, Hellboy's main cast also includes Milla Jovovich as Nimue the Blood Queen, Ian McShane as Professor Trevor Bruttenholm, Sasha Lane as Alice Monaghan, Daniel Dae Kim as Ben Daimio, Penelope Mitchell as Ganeida, Sophie Okonedo as Lady Hatton, Alistair Petrie as Lord Adam Glaren and Brian Gleeson as Merlin.

Hellboy is currently in principal photography, but an official release date hasn't been set in stone yet. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more updates on the project, and in the meantime, scan through our 2017 premiere guide and 2018 premiere guide to find out what's hitting theaters over the next year.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.