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David Harbour teases Hopper in Stranger Things season 4: "We were always interested in the Gandalf resurrection"

(Image credit: Netflix)

Stranger Things is filled with delightful twists and turns, but perhaps the most shocking from season 3 was the supposed death of Hopper, played by David Harbour. 

As we know already, though, thanks to a Stranger Things season 4 trailer, the police chief will return – just not to America anytime soon. Hopper's stranded in Russia, doing work for a shady organisation. 

Speaking with Total Film for the new issue, David Harbour revealed that there's always been a plan in place for Hopper to perish and then return as The American. In fact, the actor describes his return as being like Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings series – when Gandalf the Grey dies during a battle with the Balrog, only to return as Gandalf the White. 

"I knew. We knew. We had talked about it," laughs Harbour when asked whether he knew about Hopper's return despite telling journalists he was still waiting for a call from the show's creators, the Duffer brothers. "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 relate to that.

"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. 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.

Harbour spoke about Stranger Things while discussing his next movie, Black Widow, in which he plays a Russia's answer to Captain America. The actor noted how playing an American in Russia versus playing a Russian in Russia.

"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."

(Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

Harbour – as well as Florence Pugh, Scarlett Johansson, director Cate Shortland, Rachel Weisz, David Harbour, and O-T Fagbenle – discuss Black Widow at length in the new issue of Total Film magazine, when it hits shelves on this Friday, September 18. You can also see exclusive images from the Marvel Phase 4 movie here. Black Widow is currently scheduled to open in the UK on October 28, and in the US on November 6.

If you’re a fan of Total Film magazine, why not subscribe so that you never miss an issue? Sign up via MagazinesDirect, and with our latest offer you’ll get a year's subscription for half price! Plus you'll also get exclusive subscriber-only covers like the Black Widow one that's currently on its way to subscribers right now. (Ts & Cs apply, follow link for full details.)

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(Image credit: Total Film)
Jack Shepherd

I'm the Entertainment Editor over here at GamesRadar+, bringing you all the latest movie and TV news, reviews, and features. I look after all the Total Film and SFX articles that end up on the website