Stranger Things David Harbour talks Hoppers resurrection and why hes “like a baby” in season 4

Jim Hopper had to die – at least, that’s according to David Harbour, who returns as the character in Stranger Things season 4.

The last time we saw Hawkins’ beloved police chief, Hopper sacrificed himself to destroy a machine that was keeping a gateway between our world and the terrifying Upside Down open. Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder), Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), and co. still believe that “the American” perished in the explosion, but an after-credits scene – and the Stranger Things 4 trailer – confirmed to us that Hopper’s being kept alive by the Russians, having been ferried to a demogorgon-filled prison in Kamchatka. 

“Hopper’s been on a journey,” the actor tells Total Film in a new interview. “He’s had a bit of a redemptive arc, and he hit a point where his control issues around his daughter were destroying him. They were destroying his relationships. He didn’t really know how to be and he needed to die to be resurrected as this other thing. I think the way he starts season 4… he’s like a baby, he’s got a shaved head, he’s all thin. But we see this thing awaken in him as a prisoner, this warrior spirit – and that’s been in him since the beginning. We need that guy more than ever because the evil is getting so sophisticated and complex.”

Hopper in Stranger Things season 4

(Image credit: Netflix)

He continues: “One of the interesting things about Hawkins, across all seasons, is who dies and who lives, and what are the ramifications of that? What happens when Bob dies, or Billy dies, or Barb? Hopper has to figure out a way to beat this new evil and survive so he has to go back to his darkness, and expunge it, so that he can fight.”

Harbour explains that “one of the biggest lessons Hopper’s going to have to learn this season” is how to let himself be vulnerable with others – something he’s struggled to do since the death of his daughter, Sara, prior to season 1.

“We’re gonna get a little more information about the trauma of what happened there,” he teases. “He has to really start to let go of that. I think he views being intimate with anybody as, like, ‘touching your hand on a hot stove’, especially having a daughter. He has to get down there and expel the guilt and shame. We’ll see the complexities of that.” He chuckles over Zoom. “He basically goes through the most brutal form of therapy imaginable.”

The cast of Stranger Things

(Image credit: Netflix)

While Hopper starts the season in Russia, Eleven, Joyce, and Joyce’s sons Will (Noah Schnapp) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) have moved to Lenora Hills, California, where they are struggling to adjust to their new life. Back in Hawkins, Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) is finding it hard to make time for his old pals Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Mike (Finn Wolfhard), while trying to make a name for himself on the school’s basketball team. Elsewhere, Max (Sadie Sink) finds herself consumed by guilt and grief over the death of her stepbrother Billy (Dacre Montgomery).

There’s also newbie Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn), the anarchic leader of a Dungeons & Dragons club, who seems to relish the bad reputation the game’s players have been lumped with in the small, formerly sleepy town. 

This is Stranger Things though, of course, and personal demons aren’t the only things our heroes will be battling in the new installment. Vecna is this season’s big bad, a devilish mix of Freddy Krueger and Pennywise, who promises to be unlike any enemy they’ve faced before. But Harbour can’t confirm much more about the villain.

“They give me like 18-page documents of talking points I can’t mention so I’m just supposed to say, ‘Enjoy it! Can’t tell ya much right now but have a great time,'” he says. “No, working on shows like this, you don’t want to spoil anything. I remember watching people react to that last season, and Hopper’s ‘death’, there were no spoilers around that and nobody saw it coming. It was so moving to people. 

“I wanna preserve those sorts of moments for everybody going forward, but my job becomes tougher as a result of that, especially with COVID dragging everything out. It’s been a tough road.”

Looks like the less we know, the better. Stranger Things season 4 – Volume 1 is set to arrive on Netflix on May 27, before the second half is released on July 1. While we wait for the new episodes, why not check out our list of the best Netflix shows and bulk out your to-watch list.

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