Stranger Things’ David Harbour opens up on living with mental illness and finding fame later in life
Posted by  badge Boss on May 28
David Harbour spoke out on his mental health as well as finding fame as Hopper on Stranger Things (Picture: Getty/Rex)

has opened up about his experiences with mental illness which left him ‘in an institution’ during his most difficult period.

The actor, 47, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 26 ‘after an episode that landed me in an institution’, which he believes can be a common byproduct of living in poverty. 

David explained: ‘I have definitely been in and out of the system. And there were times in my life where very easily I could have ended up on the streets, but I luckily had a family who could.

‘There is a mental illness component that requires medication, but there also is a very social component to mental illness. It’s not like a broken leg. 

‘What defines crazy is social inappropriateness. But it’s very socially inappropriate, in a sense, to not have enough money to live on.’

He added to the Big Issue magazine: ‘Being mentally ill is a natural condition of poverty. When you can’t participate in society by going out buying lunch and go into a store and stuff, it’ll make you crazy. It’s chicken and egg. They go hand in hand.’

The actor, who is now married to Lily Allen, was diagnosed with bipolar at the age of 26 (Picture: Dave Benett/Getty Images)

David has since found that talking therapy has been far more beneficial to him than being in hospital or taking medication. 

He also opened up about later in his acting career after falling into the role by accident. 

David had racked up many roles before signing on to the series, but none of them were breakout roles which ever found him fame. 

He felt like he was ‘fairly successful’ by the age of 35 as he was able to pay his rent and have food on the table, but had set himself a goal of getting a talk show by the time he reached that age. 

David Harbour’s breakout role was in Stranger Things as Jim Hopper (Picture: Netflix/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock)

David added that the realisation he hadn’t reached that goal ‘hit very hard’ after he turned 40, and felt like he was a ‘backup’ when he agreed to take on the role of Hopper. 

He explained: ‘Even when we were shooting it, I felt like, this is a show I would love but nobody’s going to watch.

‘It was different from anything I’ve ever experienced in my career. One by one I started to get tonnes of text messages saying, “Stranger Things is amazing, I love this show”.

‘I’ve never experienced that before or since. It was really a magical moment. The reviews and numbers hadn’t come in but I knew at that point it was something special that really touched people.’

The full interview with David Harbour is available in The Big Issue. Copies are available from local The Big Issue vendors or via a .