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David Harbour got to check a big item off his bucket list when he filmed The Equalizer with Denzel Washington. Not long before being cast in Netflix’s smash hit series Stranger Things, Harbour was living his version of the Hollywood dream. This included having Washington kick him in the face for a critical action scene. Here’s more about the backstory, how Harbour called it a “childhood dream,” and what might be next for Harbour in season four of Stranger Things.

Denzel Washington is one of Hollywood’s most acclaimed actors

Anyone who was a fan of hospital drama St. Elsewhere in the mid-’80s likely knew Washington was a star in the making. After playing Dr. Philip Chandler for more than 100 episodes on the popular NBC series, the Mount Vernon, New York, native made a smooth pivot to features.

Washington landed his first of nine Academy Award nominations for his role as a South African activist in Cry Freedom. Then he solidified his star status in 1989 with his Oscar-winning role in the Civil War drama Glory. From his acclaimed performance in Spike Lee’s Malcolm X to a series of popular ’90s action thrillers, Washington turned into a Hollywood icon right around the time Harbour first considered a career as an actor.

Even with Washington being more selective over the last decade, his IMDb page remains diverse. Washington’s transition from TV to movies was also remarkably similar to the one made by Will Smith, the Oscar-winning actor who started a firestorm by slapping Chris Rock during the Academy Awards.

As explained by The Hollywood Reporter, Washington prayed with Smith (and Tyler Perry) and helped diffuse the situation. Though he won’t speak publicly about what he said to Smith, he’s steadfast in his support of the King Richard star following the incident.

David Harbour agreed to let Denzel Washington kick him in the face

Actor David Harbour arrives on the red carpet for 'The Equalizer' in 2014
David Harbour on the red carpet for The Equalizer in 2014 | David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Washington made a name for himself playing gritty and intense drama roles. But he’s also turned into a bonafide action star. For 2014 action-thriller The Equalizer, Washington reteamed with director Antoine Fuqua, who guided him to a Best Actor Oscar for Training Day in 2001.

Looking to ensure authenticity for key action sequences, Fuqua also wasn’t completely happy with letting the stuntmen do the work. According to the New York Daily News, Fuqua asked Harbour if he would let Washington kick him in the face.

Despite initial misgivings, Harbour relented. “Initially it was like, whoa, ‘I’m getting kicked in the face — until you remember it’s been a childhood dream to get kicked in the face by Denzel Washington,” the Stranger Things star explained.

While the kick was originally intended to be a gentle kick that would be sped up in production, Harbour describes it as more of a full-on kick from Washington. But the 47-year-old actor doesn’t seem to have any regrets. Not long after The Equalizer, Harbour acknowledged that his career picked up considerably, a trend dramatically enhanced following the success of Stranger Things.

‘Stranger Things’ season four will set the stage for the finale


‘Stranger Things’ Season 4 Posters Hint at Four Separate Plot Lines

Within a packed IMDb page, Harbour’s role as Jim Hopper in the throwback series Stranger Things remains a standout. The series been one of the most popular Netflix shows since it debuted in 2016. And Harbour has landed two Emmy nominations in the process. After the show’s two-and-a-half-year hiatus, Harbour will finally be back on screen this Memorial Day weekend for volume one of the fourth season.

The fourth season will also be much different than the previous ones. Not only will it include a complete change of scenery, but Netflix will only release the first five episodes of season four on May 27. Audiences will then have time to chew on percolating theories before volume two premieres on July 1. Harbour’s character also appears to begin the fourth season in a Russian prison, leaving audiences completely in the dark about what else might go down.

The reason for the delay and unusual release schedule? As detailed by showrunners Matt and Ross Duffer in a letter to Stranger Things fans, it took nearly two years to film the fourth season, which incorporates a shockingly large script of more than 800 pages. The letter also explains that season five will be the definitive end of the series, although the release date is a total mystery. Given how quickly the Duffers’ letter went viral, however, it seems there is still plenty of appetite for the Stranger Things universe.