Spoilers ahead for Vol. 1 of Stranger Things Season 4 are ahead.
The fourth season of Stranger Things picked up with more distance between the characters than ever before, which was particularly bad news for Hopper. All of his friends believed that he was dead while he was really stuck in a Russian prison, after escaping certain death through the gate right before it closed in the Season 3 finale. The months before Season 4 picked up were clearly hard on Hopper, as he looked very different, and not just because of the shaved head. Stranger Things prosthetics makeup designer Barrie Gower opened up about how the show handled actor David Harbour’s physical changes when it came to filming the flashbacks.
Episode 2 started with a flashback to the Season 3 finale to reveal how Hopper survived, and while him diving through the gate before it closed and ending up in Russia was the popular guess among fans, Season 4 went ahead and showed it. Where the flashbacks became tricky was in the fact that David Harbour had lost weight to show how much Hopper had gone through. Barrie Gower spoke with CinemaBlend about the work that he and the BGFX makeup effects company’s prosthetics team did for the show, and shared how they turned trimmer Season 4 Hopper back into Season 3 Hopper:
While Stranger Things used a body double for certain scenes for the flashback version of Eleven that couldn’t be played by Millie Bobby Brown, the prosthetics makeup team designed makeup to add weight to David Harbour so that he could look like Season 3 Hopper again. Season 3 Hopper lived a life of luxury compared to Season 4 Hopper toiling away in the snow as a Soviet prisoner, and the actor’s physical transformation reflected it. Barrie Gower (who worked with Nightmare on Elm Street’s Robert Englund on his Victor Creel prosthetics) continued:
Seeing exactly how Hopper survived the explosion in the third season finale and ended up in Russia was a highly-anticipated reveal ever since Stranger Things confirmed the character’s survival all the way back in early 2020, so the flashbacks could be under even closer scrutiny than other scenes of Season 4. When I noted that I was so convinced by the makeup that I’d wondered if the flashbacks had been filmed at the end of Season 3, Barrie Gower shared:
Kudos to David Harbour for going the extra mile to really sell how hard life had been for Hopper ever since his accidental arrival in the Soviet Union. He was the only familiar face in the Russian prison storyline for a lot of Vol. 1 before Joyce and Murray arrived, so he had to do a lot of heavy lifting as an actor with his performance and his overall look. Luckily for Hopper, he was finally rescued at the end of the first batch of Season 4 episodes, but there’s still the matter of getting back home.
Plus, with Vecna (who Barrie Gower confirmed was inspired by Game of Thrones’ Night King) wreaking havoc in Hawkins while Eleven is back with Brenner, his and Joyce’s homecoming (if it happens in Season 4) may just send them into a whole new mess of problems. The future is looking pretty grim for all of the Stranger Things characters, but that means that Vol. 2 is looking pretty exciting for Netflix subscribers!
More Vecna deaths may be on the way (and lead sound effects editor Angelo Palazzo revealed the sources for the bone snapping and wet squelching sounds of Vecna’s kills), so mark your calendar for the release of Stranger Things (opens in new tab) Season 4 Vol. 2 on Friday, July 1 at 12:01 a.m. PT on Netflix. For more viewing options now and in the coming weeks, check out our 2022 TV premiere schedule.
Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.
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