David Harbour Explains How There Is Still a 'Preserved' Family Dynamic on Stranger Things Set at Comic Con

·5 min read
(L-R) Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos, Noah Schnapp, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, writer/producer Matt Duffer, Finn Wolfhard, writer/producer Ross Duffer, David Harbour, and Millie Bobby Brown attend the "Stranger Things" FYC event at Netflix FYSee Space on June 6, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California.
(L-R) Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos, Noah Schnapp, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, writer/producer Matt Duffer, Finn Wolfhard, writer/producer Ross Duffer, David Harbour, and Millie Bobby Brown attend the "Stranger Things" FYC event at Netflix FYSee Space on June 6, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California.

Jason LaVeris/WireImage

Despite becoming bonafide superstars after the first season of Stranger Things premiered, David Harbour said that there is still a "preserved" family dynamic on the set of the hit Netflix series.

While appearing during a panel at New York Comic Con on Saturday, the 46-year-old actor chatted about how he and his Stranger Things costars are still as tight as ever.

"I mean, the funny thing about us is that the whole thing has changed so much, right? And yet when we get together on set, it's like the first day of the first season where they're afraid of me because I'm an angry New York actor and they're little kids," Harbour told the crowd at the Javits Center in Manhattan. "So that has been preserved."

"And I think we all have that relationship where we've been [through] so much that when we get on set together, it still feels like day one. It still feels very creative," he continued. "The hoopla around us when we step off that stage is insane ... but for those kids ... what I do like is that they are grounded enough to be [the same] when we are on set working on the show."

RELATED: David Harbour on How His Stranger Things Role Prepared Him for Fatherhood: It 'Opened My Heart'

"Everybody loves the show still. We love the creators and we love our characters, and we love each other and we feel like a family," Harbour added. "We could have big special effects and all that stuff, but we'd miss that thing that to me is really what the show is about. So that's very much preserved."

David Harbour
David Harbour

Netflix David Harbour in Stranger Things

Last year, Harbor similarly touched upon the dynamic he has working with the cast of the popular series in a chat with PEOPLE. At the time, the Hellboy star said he is like a parent figure to the younger members of the cast — including Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Noah Schnapp, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, and Sadie Sink — while also a friend to them at the same time.

"I think when it started out, it was more parental, almost like angry parents. And then it's become much more like, I just can't hide anymore," Harbour said of his relationship with his young castmates. "I mean, in the beginning, I really wanted to preserve a lot of the character of Hopper off-screen for these kids because I wanted their performances to be as rich as possible. And I knew that if they felt about me sort of the same that they would feel about Hopper, that it would be easier for them to act and easier for me too."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

"But then as the seasons go on, you just become like a family and my sort of soft heart gets exposed and they start to be able to not really take me seriously anymore," he continued. "So you just become friends. ... Sometimes we're buddies and sometimes it takes on more of a mentor feel."

Stranger Things
Stranger Things

Netflix

That feeling of being a role model, Harbour added, allows him to have a unique relationship with the cast. "I occupy a very different position. Like, I'm not a director or producer, I'm not someone who requires of them that. I'm also not their immediate family so I don't have those requirements. So, in a sense, I am like a colleague of theirs," he said. "My hope is that they always feel like if they have trouble or if they need advice ... they can come to me."

RELATED: David Harbour Says He Feels 'Protective' Over Stranger Things Costar Millie Bobby Brown

And watching the cast grow up over the years hasn't come without some heartache as well for Harbour, who said at the time that it is "very moving, especially when you play a character like my character."

"It really rattles around in your heart, just these ideas of the passage of time and just the fact that the beautiful thing that people are as children, just don't get to remain," he said. "The world affects us, the world changes us. We grow, we develop and those beautiful eyes of a child sort of become something different as we age."

RELATED VIDEO: David Harbour Says Watching the 'Stranger Things' Kids Grow up Is a 'Mixed Blessing'

During his New York Comic Con panel, Harbour also chatted about how the role of Police Chief Jim Hopper initially came to be his.

Noting that he was in a bad spot emotionally as a show he was working on had not been renewed for a second season, Harbour explained that a script for the Stranger Things pilot made its way into his possession, and the rest was history.

"I read it and I thought, 'Wow this is really good, I'll never get this,'" he shared. "And then I went in and I auditioned for it, and literally a couple of days later, it was like, 'We're on! Let's do this!'"

RELATED: Gaten Matarazzo, Joe Keery, and Duffer Brothers Introduce New Stranger Things Season 4 Teaser

Harbour added that he and costar Winona Ryder then met with the series' creators — The Duffer Brothers (Matt and Ross Duffer) — who showed them audition tapes of the kids who would go on to portray roles on the series.

"That's kind of how it came about," he said. "We all went down to Atlanta and started shooting this crazy show that nobody knew about. We didn't have any money, nobody cared about it. It was really kind of a beautiful thing and then, as I say, it became what it is today."

Season 4 of Stranger Things will premiere in 2022.