You may have seen Westchester native and actor David Harbour in Revolutionary Road, Brokeback Mountain, and Quantum of Solace. This month, you can see him in two roles that couldn’t be more disparate: as Bassanio in Broadway’s The Merchant of Venice with Al Pacino, which is scheduled to close January 9, and as D.A. Scanlon in The Green Hornet, which opens January 14. We caught up with him to ask him how he can go from Shakespearean deal-making to comic-book crime-fighting.
You grew up in White Plains and Armonk. Did you start acting there? Yes. I was the Tin Man in Ridgeway Elementary when I was in kindergarten. It was a legendary performance. Then, when I was in middle school, I was more into soccer. I got cast in my first play freshmen year of high school, and I had to tell the soccer coach that I wanted to drop out and become a drama kid.
Shakespeare and comic books—they’re pretty different. Do you look for that kind of diversity in your roles? I do. It’s because I like all kinds of films. I’m working with Pacino, and I love old movies like Dog Day Afternoon, but I’m also a huge Lord of the Rings geek. I enjoy moving from one role to the next and satisfying different kinds of curiosities.
For these projects, you’ve worked with some big names: Al Pacino and Michel Gondry. What was it like working with them? Al Pacino is a real gentleman—generous and gracious. He’s really grounded in being an actor and loves working on scenes. But, on stage, he’s like an untrained animal—you never know what he’s going to do. I love that, because I also love being spontaneous and in the moment; it gives the audience a unique experience. Michel, on the other hand, is hilarious. You’d know you did a good take when you’d hear him say ‘Awesome!’ from behind the camera in his little French accent with his high-pitched voice. He’s such an indie director that, even though we had a one-hundred-twenty-million-dollar budget for the movie, he always wanted to grab the camera and try to film it himself with a flashlight.
You were also in Revolutionary Road. Did you know that David Yates lived in Westchester when he wrote that book? Yes, and it was very weird when we were filming it. Apart from the fifties aspect of it, it spoke to my suburban upbringing. There were little elements of it that I really related to.