Stranger Things: David Harbour Always Knew Hopper Was Going Gandalf

Fans of Netflix's Stranger Things have been feeling cautiously optimistic about production on the COVID-delayed fourth season lately, with everyone from cast members Joe Keery (Steve Harrington), Natalia Dyer (Nancy Wheeler), and Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven) to series creators Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer (The Duffer Bros.) recently discussing the upcoming season and beyond (no, season 4 will not be the final season). Now the spotlight turns to David Harbour (Hopper), who opened up about the series during an interview with Total Film to promote the upcoming Marvel Studios' film Black Widow.

stranger things
Ross Duffer, Matt Duffer, and star David Harbour discussed Netflix's Stranger Things (Image: Netflix)

The first thing Harbour wants to get out of the way? He not only knew that Hopper was coming back, but he knew Hopper was going to be "killed" in the first place. "I knew. We knew. We had talked about it," he explained. "I just wanted to preserve the fantasy for everyone. And it's such a weird position that we're in now with so much media, that everybody wants to talk to you about it. I'm very close to the Duffer brothers, and I know where the story's going, and I've known from the get-go. And I think that's been the great thing about this story. In terms of Stranger Things, you'll be able to look back at season one and see a lot of things that happen further down the line that relates to that."

In fact, the three of them discussed Hopper's arc in terms that will warm many a geek-heart: Gandalf's (Ian McKellen) death and resurrection in "The Lord of the Rings" films. "I've had those discussions with them from the very first season. We were always interested in that idea of the Gandalf resurrection – Gandalf the Grey who fights the Balrog and then becomes Gandalf the White. It's the idea of the resurrection of the character," Harbour explained. "And mythologically, Hopper, in a sense, had to change. I mean, you couldn't go on the way he was going on. He has to resurrect in some way. So it was a great opportunity to do that. So we'll see a very different guy going forwards. The same guy but in a different vein. It's a very cool thing to be able to play."

When asked how an American like Hopper being in a Russia differs from playing a Russian in Russia, Harbour offered more insight into how Hopper is perceived considering the time period. "One of the things was to be a Russian, as opposed to being an American in a Russian prison, which is a very different experience," he said. "I think that Hopper is very much the American, as they talk about it at the end of season three. And in that way, you know, the American mentality of the '80s 'cowboy' American that Hopper is in Russia, it's a very different dynamic than a Russian dissident or a Russian former KGB or whatever being ostracised."

About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought on board as staff in 2017.

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