Stranger Things' David Harbour lost 80 pounds to play Hopper in season 4

6 July 2022, 13:46

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Katie Louise Smith

By Katie Louise Smith

While Hopper's weight loss was real, David Harbour revealed that the scars on Hop's body were CGI.

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Stranger Things has put David Harbour's Jim Hopper through the absolute wringer over the past four seasons, and season 4 was undoubtably his most traumatic yet – both mentally and physically.

After eight months in a Soviet prison, surviving on a diet of "watery soup, mouldy bread, and maggots," Hopper's physique is understandably now much different than the last time we saw him. He's slimmer, gaunt and very clearly malnourished. At one point, he jokes about his appearance to Joyce, who promptly rolls her eyes and shakes her head when he says that he "needed to lose weight anyway".

Some fans thought Hop's severe weight loss was some kind of CGI magic, but David Harbour has now opened up about how he went about losing weight to portray Hop in those devastating and torturous prison scenes.

READ MORE: David Harbour and Winona Ryder improvised Hopper and Joyce’s kiss in Stranger Things 4

David Harbour opens up about his Stranger Things 4 weight loss
David Harbour opens up about his Stranger Things 4 weight loss. Picture: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images, Netflix

Opening up about losing weight for the scenes, David told GQ: "I lost about 80 pounds from season three — I was about 270 [then], and when we shot [season four] I was around 190."

David lost all that weight within 8 months, ahead of filming in Lithuania where the Russia prison scenes were shot on location. But it's unlikely that he'll do the same thing for any other roles in the future.

"I don’t think I’ll ever do that again," he continued. "I have this Santa Claus movie coming out for Universal in December and I gained [it all back]. But now, yeah, never again. The prosthetics are too good."

READ MORE: David Harbour suggests Jacob Elordi should play young Hopper in Stranger Things spin-off

David Harbour lost over 5 stone to play Hopper in Stranger Things 4
David Harbour lost over 5 stone to play Hopper in Stranger Things 4. Picture: Netflix

Discussing his season 4 transformation further, David revealed that the scars on Hopper's chest in the church scene were actually CGI, due to "problems with the practical effects".

In an Instagram post, David wrote: "Many of you have asked about Hopper’s physical transformation from season 3 to season 4. My trainer @davidhigginslondon worked with me for 8months to make the transformation, and then another year to keep it through the pandemic. All told it was a difficult and exciting ride, changing diet and exercise plans (or lack thereof)."

"And pic three is the shoot day, the black x’s are for cgi scarring because of problems with the practical effect. All told I lost over 75lbs. 265-270 in season 3 and all the way down to 190 when we shot."

"Recently ballooned up again to play jolly ole st. Nick in a flick I can’t wait for you to see this holiday season, so I am struggling to fight back down towards a good weight for wherever hopper ends up in season 5. All this up and down is not good for the body, and I’ll have to give it up soon, but it is such a fun part of the job to live in a different version of your skin for a while."

David Harbour reveals Hopper's scars on his torso were CGI
David Harbour reveals Hopper's scars on his torso were CGI. Picture: Netflix

In order to shoot the flashback scenes of Hopper arriving at the gulag, David actually donned prosthetics because he had already started to lose weight.

"At the end of s3 I told those Duffer bros that we should shoot the flashbacks post ‘death’ cause I was going to lose the weight and there’d be continuity issues," David wrote on Instagram. "But they hadn’t been written yet. Luckily, we had the miraculous @barriegower come in and give me the ‘fuller hopper’ face. I hate prosthetics, but Barry/team made it as painless as possible. The results speak for themselves."

Read more about Stranger Things 5 here:

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