At some very uncertain point in the future, Stranger Things season 4—which had to halt production last year due to the pandemic—will debut on Netflix, possibly with one more episode than the season prior, and almost definitely with the young cast aging at an alarming rate between scenes. These are things we know. We also know that, despite season 3 teasing his death, fan-favorite surly lawman Hopper (David Harbour) is currently locked up in a shady Russian cell, and much of season 4 will cover his return. But what does that return look like? Harbour spoke to Total Film (via Games Radar) about the new episodes, revealing that show creators Matt and Ross Duffer have known about this plotline since the beginning, and “always were interested in that idea of the Gandalf resurrection.”
So Harbour is returning to Stranger Things with a gigantic white beard, correct? The actor had a startling lack of comment on the matter, but did explain all the other (vastly less important) details:
“Gandalf the Grey who fights the Balrog and then becomes Gandalf the White. It’s the idea of the resurrection of the character. 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.”
The next time we’re likely to see Harbour on screen, he will…also be in Russia, playing the role of Red Guardian in Marvel’s Black Widow.
“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.”
For more on Stranger Things, here are the Duffer Brothers assuring the world that season 4 will not be the show’s last.