Exclusive: David Harbour talks 'humiliating' himself for those Tide Super Bowl commercials

Writer, Yahoo Entertainment & Lifestyle
Yahoo TV

If you’re like us, you were just glued to the TV for the Super Bowl. And if you’re like us, you were probably as perplexed as we were by that series of Tide commercials featuring David Harbour, he of Stranger Things and upcoming Hellboy fame. It all left us wondering: What exactly did we just watch!? Luckily, Harbour was able to clue us in on the multiple spots.

“It’s sort of a riff on advertising in general — and almost like a Twilight Zone experience,” Harbour explains to Yahoo Entertainment. “So you have this guy, me, who shows up as a celebrity spokesman for all these brands — a car, a beer, a cola, a mattress, a razor — and then he informs you that the thing these brands have in common is not the brand, but the clothes. They’re very clean. So when you watch the Super Bowl ads, every ad could be a Tide ad.”

David Harbour saddled up with Isaiah Mustafa. (Image: Courtesy of Tide)
David Harbour saddled up with Isaiah Mustafa. (Image: Courtesy of Tide)

Harbour adds that the whole concept generates excitement that not everything may be what it seems in advertising land, but also, “There’s paranoia that I may be showing up in every ad — and that it might not be what you think it is. So at first it could be that there’s an ad for Mr. Clean, but then it winds up being me, saying, ‘These are not the droids you’re looking for.’”

Bye, dad bod. David Harbour got a quick makeover in one spot. (Image: Courtesy of Tide)
Bye, dad bod. David Harbour got a quick makeover in one spot. (Image: Courtesy of Tide)

And while Harbour’s character is mostly nice and friendly, he occasionally drifts into questionable territory and embraces his darker side a bit more. For example? Harbour shot a scene with a kid — whom he immediately bonded with, because “I work with kids all the time” — where it looked like the ad was for a Game Boy. The two were feeding off each other, making each other laugh, cracking each other up, and then when it came time to close out the scene, Harbour grabbed the kid’s Game Boy and bellowed, “I hate these things!” Then he slammed it on the ground.

Then there was the tennis clip. It “starts like a pharma ad, but there’s something that might not be clear,” Harbour says. “You see clean clothes, so it might be a Tide ad … but then at the end of the ad, four much older people are playing tennis, and I’m slamming the ball around, running around, being scary … but it was really fun being that trickster figure who messes with you.”

Step aside, Federer. David Harbour got excited during a bit on the court. (Image: Courtesy of Tide)
Step aside, Federer. David Harbour got excited during a bit on the court. (Image: Courtesy of Tide)

If it looked like Harbour was having the time of his life in those ads, that was no accident. He reports that he and the crew were having a ton of fun on set, so much so that he was surprised by how much he enjoyed himself. Apparently they shot a ton of embarrassing footage — much of which could potentially be used to blackmail Harbour.

“We shot stuff that had us on the floor howling — ridiculous things,” he says, laughing. “Like me, on a mattress in slow motion, sniffing a rose and biting the head off it, then saying, ‘Tide.’ That footage should be on some kind of DVD and held against me in the future. I did so many humiliating things that were so funny.”

David Harbour’s ads were a bed of roses.  (Image: Courtesy of Tide)
David Harbour’s ads were a bed of roses.  (Image: Courtesy of Tide)

Harbour was also keen on working with Terry Bradshaw in the teaser spots leading up to the Super Bowl ads. TheNFL legend reminded Harbour of his extended family in Houston.

And — poof — another bromance is born. David Harbour, right, loved working with Terry Bradshaw in the Tide Super Bowl teaser spots. But don’t worry “Stranger Things” fans, he remains as tight as ever with Joe Keery. (Photo: Courtesy of Tide)
And — poof — another bromance is born. David Harbour, right, loved working with Terry Bradshaw in the Tide Super Bowl teaser spots. But don’t worry “Stranger Things” fans, he remains as tight as ever with Joe Keery. (Photo: Courtesy of Tide)

“He’s a good ol‘ boy — reminds me of my uncle growing up,” Harbour said. “Just that certain kind of guy who’s cavalier, has a joie de vivre, silly, kind-hearted. … It was a real pleasure to hang out with him.”

Here are a couple of Harbour and Bradshaw’s teaser spots:

But fret not, Stranger Things fans. Though the two seemed to have an on-set bromance, Harbour promises that his bromance with Joe Keery — who plays Steve and becomes Harbour’s character’s unlikely buddy — is on solid ground.

“I wouldn’t want to make Joe jealous — I only have eyes for Joe,” he promises. “There will be times where I work with other people and we’ll be having fun, but Joe is my No. 1 bromance.”


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