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Stranger Things star David Harbour says Gandalf and Han Solo inspired Hopper’s ‘resurrection’

Speaking exclusively to The Big Issue, David Harbour talks about his character’s fate and lying to everyone about it ahead of season four of Stranger Things.

The last we saw of police chief Jim Hopper, he was sacrificing himself to save the town of Hawkins – and the rest of the world – from a mind flaying supernatural menace.

But wildly popular characters in TV and film don’t always stay dead when they die.

Seven months after the third season of Stranger Things ended in the summer of 2019, a teaser trailer appeared. It hinted that Hopper had survived. And that somehow he’d ended up in a Soviet gulag.

Speaking exclusively to The Big Issue, David Harbour said that Hopper’s journey plays into “the classic trope of the hero who becomes resurrected”.

He explained: “I always knew that it was not meant to be a real death. It was always meant to be a form of resurrection.

“I lied to a lot of people. I told people that I didn’t know… but I knew.”

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“The Duffers [brothers Matt and Ross who created Stranger Things] and I have talked about the entire five season arc of the show and the arc of Hopper, where he ends up. And we always planned this almost Gandalf resurrection. Hopper the Grey who descends into a pit and fights his demons. Re-emerging as a different warrior and can take on the evil of the Upside Down in a fresh way.

“One of the big models for him is Harrison Ford performances,” Harbour added. “When Han Solo gets trapped in carbonite at the end of Empire Strikes Back, your heart sinks. Then they break him out in a very dramatic fashion.

“The idea of resurrection with Hopper… his flaws, who he needs to be as opposed to who he is, was always something we wanted to explore.”

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Exactly how Hopper survived is yet to be discovered. But Harbour promises all will be revealed.

“We always knew how he didn’t die, which we will tell you in this series. We’ll show you how he survived.

“The idea of him being in Siberia was always part of the discussion. How long he was going to be in Kamchatka and what that ordeal was going to be was always in flux.

“He’s there for longer than one episode – spoiler alert – but it sort of became a season of Hopper getting to the base of his trauma, his guilt, his shame.

“I started getting the scripts and realising that a big bulk of his season is going to be confronting not being a cop anymore, but a prisoner, and a prisoner in this isolated wasteland.

“He’s really grappling with this very isolated, dark experience.”

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The new series of Stranger Things is released on Netflix on 27 May. Before then, you can read in full The Big Issue’s exclusive interview with David Harbour. He talks about fame, mental health and the challenges he’s had to overcome in his own life.

The Big Issue is a magazine sold by people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. You can support our work by buying a copy from your local vendor or subscribing. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

Our special Stranger Things edition will be on sale from Monday 23 May.

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