David Harbour is, by now, a firmly established actor who has found a place in some massive modern entertainment franchises. The Stranger Things star landed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe recently and has seen his career blossom in the streaming era. But one of the early breaks in his career involved a “cloak-and-dagger” meeting he earned because Madonna thought he was hot.
During an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the Violent Night star told a story about how he ended up getting cast in “W.E,” a 2011 historical drama about the affair between King Edward VIII and an American, Wallis Simpson. And though Harbour admitted that “it was not a terrific movie” the story behind it all is pretty spectacular.
The conversation happens around the two-minute mark of his appearance. Harbour described it as “crazy” but heard about a job opportunity that slowly revealed itself to be based… well, mostly on how hot he was.
“It was a real cloak-and-dagger type of thing,” he said. “It started out, I got a call from a casting director that I knew very well saying ‘They’re putting together a top-secret movie read-through. But you just have to show up at the St. Regis and go in this room and all will be revealed.”
Despite it being “weird” and “creepy,” Harbour acquiesced.
“And I said ‘Why do they want me?’” Harbour asked, though the casting director didn’t want to tell him at first. Eventually, though, the truth came out.
“Well, the director really liked you in this movie Revolutionary Road. You have, like, a sex scene in it,” Harbour recalled the casting director saying. “They thought you were really sexy.”
Harbour joked about some very famous male directors possibly fitting the bill of this anonymous figure. But eventually, he showed up to the read and “in walks Madonna, who is directing this movie.”
Which, of course, brought Harbour back to the reason he was there in the first place.
“The first thing that flooded over me before she went over was ‘wow, Madonna thinks I’m sexy,’” Harbour said. “I was really excited about that.”
Though he described it as a “truly harrowing, exciting experience” the movie did turn out to be a flop. But the story behind it certainly is not. The segment also includes a very funny exchange about the meaning of Madonna’s “Open Your Heart” music video, which Harbour interpreted VERY differently from Jimmy Kimmel. You can watch the full interview above.