David Harbour discusses his weight loss for Stranger Things season 4. After season 3, viewers were concerned about fan-favorite character Sheriff Jim Hopper’s (Harbour) seemingly final fate. But when the sci-fi show’s creators released a brief teaser for season 4 in February 2020 titled ‘From Russia with love…’, Hopper was confirmed to be alive and sporting a new look. Plenty of theories abounded after the teaser’s release, with people wondering how Hopper had ended up in Russia and how he would get back to his adopted daughter Eleven and old flame Joyce.
The character previously had what was affectionately referred to as a ‘dad bod,’ but the Stranger Things season 4 teaser revealed Hopper to be gaunt and bony. Upon season 4’s release, it was revealed his emaciated look was due to his time in a Russian labor camp, where he ended up after the fateful blast in Stranger Things season 3. After months in the camp in which Hopper was tortured, beaten, starved, and put to work in the snow, the former Hawkins Sheriff luckily had a marginally happy ending when Joyce and Murray flew to Russia and rescued him. Harbour, no stranger to switching up his look for a part, committed to the role and lost 80 pounds over eight months to portray Hopper in the Stranger Things season 4 storyline.
In an interview with People, Harbour reflects on the weight loss. Though he mentions that he likes “to be more of a chameleon, and figure out how it feels to be in different skin,” citing a love for his “big body” as well as his “lean athletic body,” he notes that the 80-pound transformation came at a time when he was resigned to being out of shape. Here’s what he had to say about the weight loss journey:
“It opened up a whole new world, [I’m] a lot more pliable and a lot more teachable, even in my mid 40s, than I ever imagined [I] could be. And it felt like a rebirth. It was really refreshing and really exciting to feel like after months of training like, ‘Oh now I can just sprint across the street if a car comes.’ Just simple little things like that that were really exciting for me.”
Though Hopper’s Stranger Things season 4 weight loss was not healthy or aspirational by any means since it was the result of being starved and forced into manual labor, Harbour’s comments show that the 80-pound drop at least had a positive effect on the actor. The key to his statement is that, though his appearance did change, his biggest takeaway was the way the shift in pounds made him feel. His mention of being able to ‘sprint across the street’ and feeling renewed at a time when he figured change wasn’t possible marks a positive, non-aesthetic impact of the weight loss that has clearly stuck with him. Since the conclusion of Stranger Things season 4, Harbour gained some weight back to portray Santa Claus in an upcoming Christmas thriller. He has made it a habit to stay in shape, even recently partnering with Brooks Running in their ‘It’s Your Run’ campaign to advocate for healthy exercise routines.
Fans of Stranger Things are used to the Netflix series’ actors taking their dedication to the show to the next level, such as when Millie Bobby Brown shaved her head rather than wear a bald cap and Jamie Campbell Bower underwent the grueling 8-hour Vecna transformation. Harbour’s weight loss is another example of the actors’ commitment to the popular drama, which certainly comes through in their exceptional performances. With information about season 5 still to come, audiences can only speculate about Hopper’s next look. While the dire situation in Hawkins at the end of season 4 will offer the Sheriff little time for recovery, hopefully he will gain back some color in his cheeks in Stranger Things season 5.