'Stranger Things 4': Hopper's Return is Like the Resurrection of Gandalf, According to David Harbour

At this point, it’s really not a spoiler to say that David Harbour‘s Hopper is returning in Stranger Things 4. Even though it looked like his character died at the end of season 3, there was a post-credits scene strongly implying he’d return. And then, a teaser for season 4 was released showing Hopper very much alive. While we still have to wait a while to see Stranger Things 4, David Harbour is talking about his character’s inevitable return, and comparing Hopper’s comeback to the resurrection of Gandalf as Gandalf the White in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

When Hopper returns for Stranger Things 4, he’s bound to be a changed man. Season 3 ended with Hopper seeming to sacrifice himself in order to close a gateway between the town of Hawkins and the Upside Down. But somehow, he survived, and ended up in Russia. And that’s all we really know for now, although David Harbour is dropping some hints about what’s in store for the character. And apparently, Hopper’s “death” and resurrection was being discussed all the way back in season 1.

“I’ve had those discussions with [Stranger Things creators the Duffer Brothers] from the very first season,” Harbour told Total Film. “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.”

Obviously Hopper isn’t going to come back as a super-powerful wizard, but you get the idea. I interviewed Harbour around the release of Stranger Things 3, and the actor talked a bit about the future of the character. “In season two, there are a bunch of boxes in the basement,” Harbour said. “One of them says ‘Vietnam.’ One of them says ‘New York.’ One of them says ‘Dad.’ I love those boxes. I think the tapestry of Hopper is so large and interesting, and I also think that Hopper has karmic debts to pay for how dead he’s been for a long time. And there may be more to explore with his biological daughter, and what all went down. We’ve seen flashes of that. We’ve seen that in the end of season one, but there could be more to explore there.” He also added:

“We have to decide who this man is. And I think that’s the fun thing  – we’ve spiraled it out in season one, season two, and now season three, we’ve spiraled out who he is. And to me there is still a core of who he really is. Like…what is he? Is he a man of justice? Is he a father? Which one is he? And I think those two things are not always compatible. I don’t know that you can stand for values or stand for relationships at the same time. At some point, you’re going to have to choose. So I’m interested in that – in him as a human being, if he’s faced with that choice, what he would choose?”

Stranger Things 4 has no premiere date yet, but don’t expect to see it until sometime in 2021.

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