Stranger Things season 4 is the most eagerly anticipated Netflix show in production right now.
The next instalment in the Duffer brothers' hugely popular TV series is being filmed at the moment but, aside from a couple of on-set image leaks, little is known about what the next season will entail.
Fans and critics have been trying to squeeze every tiny detail out of the show's cast when the opportunity has arisen, and one of the series' main stars has teased what their character's season 4 journey may involve in a recent interview.
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David Harbour, who plays Detective Jim Hopper in Stranger Things, recently spoke to Collider ahead of the release of Marvel's Black Widow (Harbour portrays Red Guardian in the upcoming movie) and was asked about Stranger Things season 4.
While Harbour couldn't give anything significant away, he did hint at what fans can expect from Hopper's story arc in season 4 – and surprisingly likened the character's "rebirth" to that of one particular Lord of the Rings character.
"I guess I say this about a lot of seasons, but it’s my favorite season, in the sense that he’s at his purest, he’s at his most vulnerable," Harbour revealed. "He’s been, as we’ve seen, he’s in this Russian prison, so we get to reinvent him in a sense.
"He gets to have a rebirth from what he had become, and we’d always sort of planned this almost resurrection of you have Gandalf dies, Galdalf the Grey re-emerges, and I’m really interested in this resurgence of him. We get to explore a lot of threads in his life that have merely been hinted at that we get to see a lot more of."
Analysis: We may see more of Hopper's backstory in Stranger Things season 4
Spoilers follow for Stranger Things seasons 1, 2 and 3.
Fans already know a fair deal about Hopper's backstory in Stranger Things. We're aware that he had a daughter (Sara) who died of cancer five years before the events of Stranger Things season 1.
We also know that he was married and, after Sara's death, he and his wife Diane got divorced, Hopper moved back to Hawkins and became reliant on alcohol and prescription drugs to deal with his grief.
However, there are still gaps in Hopper's history that audiences aren't aware of. Given that we don't know much else about Hawkins' Chief of Police (he served in Vietnam, and was close to Joyce Hopper back in high school), it's likely that we'll find out more about his backstory in Stranger Things season 4.
Harbour does say that we'll see Hopper at his "most vulnerable" in season 4. Of course, he's in unfamiliar territory in a Russian prison, as well as being half a world away from his family and friends, so Harbour's comments may tease something entirely different about his story arc in the upcoming season.
We suspect, though, that Harbour isn't using the word "vulnerable" lightly here. In that sense, we can certainly see him having flashbacks to his life with Diane and Sara (as well as possible flashbacks to events from seasons 1, 2 and 3 in dream form). He could even privately discuss these matters with any inmates he befriends, providing anyone is willing to listen.
Whatever Harbour's comments mean, we'll be seeing a different side to Hopper in season 4 – one which is less 'act first, think later' and maybe more emotional, sensitive or potentially out of his depth.
Harbour has shown he has that side in his acting locker, too, so it'll be interesting to see him explore that aspect of Hopper's character more thoroughly in Stranger Things season 4.