David Harbour Calls Out Vampire Diaries’ Paul Wesley For Freaking Him Out About Netflix’s Stranger Things Early On

David Harbour in Stranger Things
(Image credit: Netflix/YouTube)

If you had told Stranger Things star David Harbour that the Netflix sci-fi horror series would not do so well before the show debuted on the streamer in 2016, he very likely would have believed you. Or at the very least, you would have made him a bit more freaked out about it, since that’s exactly what happened after The Vampire Diaries’ Paul Wesley made him further doubt Netflix’s publicity campaign for the then-upcoming series. 

As fans are keenly aware, since they're responsible for it, Stranger Things became an instant hit when it released five years ago and its popularity has only grown since then. However, it wasn’t always like that. At New York Comic Con 2021 (via People), David Harbour, who portrays Chief Jim Hopper, revealed to fans that when he was co-starring with TVD star Paul Wesley in an off-Broadway play ahead of Stranger Things' premiere, they were both of the belief that Netflix was skimping on the marketing push. Here's how Harbour put it:

So about two weeks before the show I was like, 'There's still no ads, man, like buses and phone, there's no ads,' and [Paul] was like, 'Sorry man, they're trying to bury it.' It was clearly a terrible show. I was like, 'Oh no, man. I blew it. I had like one of the leads on a Netflix show, and I blew it, we all blew it.’

While Netflix’s marketing strategy was a little worrisome for Stranger Things in that Winona Ryder's involvement was the most lauded selling point, it seems there was no need to worry one bit. The beloved series has become one of the streaming service’s most popular shows, and one of the biggest sci-fi/horror series ever. David Harbour went on to give the show credit for being a best case scenario for the kind of show that people can discover on their own, which also helped with its word-of-mouth appeal.

Hilariously enough, David Harbour also revealed that Netflix's marketing execs apparently tried to take credit for the early success, with the actor saying:

The advertising department claimed later on that that was the manipulation the entire time, and that they're just geniuses. But, I don't know what's true.

Netflix's bosses clearly believed they knew what they were doing, and thus weren’t worried one bit. Of course, it could have helped create a better peace of mind if they let the cast members know what the deal was. Still though, it worked out for the best in the long run. It makes me wonder if David Harbour ever jokingly brings that memory up with Paul Wesley. And how soon we can hope to see Wesley joining the supernatural chaos at the heart of Stranger Things and its ever-growing cast.

Meanwhile, fans are getting very anxious for the release of Stranger Things 4. It’s been well over two years since the third season dropped, and although the pandemic-delayed Season 4 has been getting teased a lot, Netflix has yet to reveal a release date beyond its 2022 window. Hopefully we’ll get confirmation soon. because it’s been way too long. With Harbour’s Hopper officially coming back following his sacrifice at the end of Season 3, fans are also looking forward to seeing the aftermath, and how he’s dealing with it while stuck in Russia. It will be interesting to see how that storyline continues and what it means for Eleven, whose past will be explored more in the new season.

Stream the first three seasons of Stranger Things on Netflix! While waiting for Season 4, check out CinemaBlend’s 2021 fall TV guide to see what other shows to binge this fall!

Megan Behnke
Freelance TV News Writer

Passionate writer. Obsessed with anything and everything entertainment, specifically movies and television. Can get easily attached to fictional characters.