"I can't be the same guy."

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In Stranger Things, David Harbour's Chief Hopper was last seen in a Russian prison cell. And in Marvel's upcoming Black Widow, Harbour plays Alexei Shostakov, better known as Red Guardian — a character who we meet in a Russian prison. Rest assured, no one is more aware of the coincidental character connection than Harbour himself.

While appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live to promote Black Widow, Harbour talked about how he handled differentiating the two roles, explaining that he finished shooting the third season of Stranger Things in 2019. "And then literally a month later, I got a call from Marvel that they wanted me to play a guy who starts out in a Russian prison," he revealed with a laugh.

David Harbour on Stranger Things/Marvel Crossover Conspiracies, Black Widow & Vegas Pandemic Wedding
David Harbour on Jimmy Kimmel Live
| Credit: ABC

Immediately, Harbour knew that social media would have a field day with the news. But he was also concerned that fans would see the roles as too much of a coincidence, so he took matters into his own hands to make sure that didn't happen.

"I had this long hair and this beard and I was big and I thought, 'I can't be the same guy with long hair and a beard in the same prison," Harbour said. He admitted he sneakily took pictures of the Black Widow set and sent them to series creators Matt and Ross Duffer, "making sure they didn't use any of the same colors as the set and making sure the looks were different and the outfits were different."

As Harbour explained, playing Red Guardian contributed to shaping Hopper's look in the upcoming season, which features the character sporting a shaved head.

"At the end, I had all this hair and all this beard and we had planned to do it that way. And I was like 'guys, we can't do this. I mean, I'm coming out with this Marvel movie, I can't have the beard and the hair," Harbour said. "So we came up with a whole different look for it."

The world might have to wait a little longer to see what Hopper's been up to in Hawkins but with Black Widow just around the corner from its July 9 release, fans will finally get to meet the actor's version of an iconic Marvel character. And Harbour can't wait.

"He's a good guy at heart, but he definitely has problems," he teased of the Red Guardian.

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