'Stranger Things' Season 3 Finale: David Harbour Reacts to That 'Extraordinary' Ending (Exclusive)
By Leanne Aguilera
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SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't already binged season three of Stranger Things, leave now. (But come back when you're done because you're going to want to read this!)
As Jim Hopper would say, "Mornings are for coffee and contemplation" – but this morning, it's more like hysterical crying and confusion.
Now that you've finished your eight-hour bingeing marathon of Stranger Things season three, you probably have a lot of questions about that electrifying finale and the fate of Jim Hopper – and we did too!
ET sat down with actor David Harbour last week at Netflix's junket in Los Angeles to get his exclusive answers on what it was like to bring "Dad Hopper" to life, his honest reaction to the season three finale and what that mysterious post-credits scene could mean.
Plus, Harbour is revealing his heartfelt message to the Stranger Things fandom and you're going to need some tissues!
ET: When you first read the finale script for season three, what was your initial reaction?
David Harbour: I thought it was stunning. I don't know how [the Duffer Brothers] can outdo themselves because I remember thinking season one was so extraordinary, and season two was so extraordinary, and then I was like, you'll never be able to have the payoffs that you had. Especially the season one payoff, but then even that season two payoff with closing the gate, you'll never be able to do it, and then they did it, like, tenfold. I mean, I've never been so impressed with a script – there's not a lagging moment.
I think it's an hour and ten minutes in the last episode – it's a long episode – and there's not a moment where I wasn't glued and yelling at the different characters on the screen. Even when I watched it all put together and even when I know what's going to happen, I sit there and I cry and I laugh and go, "No don't do that! What are you doing?" So to get that response out of me, these guys are just brilliant, brilliant writers, brilliant directors and it's such an honor to work on this show, really.
We love season three so much and one of the things that we think fans are going to freak out about is Dad Hopper.
[Laughs] I know! He's full Dad-mode. I never thought I'd be Bob Saget in Full House.
As an actor who has been with this character for quite some time now, what was it like adding in this new layer of "Dad Hopper?" We watched him go red in the face quite a few times...
I think Mike at one point calls it a "fat tomato" which is a really lovely thing for a handsome young man like him to say. [Laughs] I mean, one of the things that's fun about him is he really gets to grow through the series. In the first season, he really had a different thing – he had a ruggedness and kind of toughness to him. Eventually, going in to season two, he's sort of opening himself up and he's becoming a little softer in a certain way.
So in season three, he really can't pop the Tuinals anymore, and he can't really smoke as many cigarettes or drink as much as he used to, so he's got to do something with all that weird anger and rage. He's decided that it's chips and salsa in front of the TV, like, copious amounts and the occasional Snickers bar. Well, not the occasional – the very many Snickers bars as I imagine – so he's getting bigger.
He's also getting softer in his demeanor, but h'’s still got that beating heroic heart of Jim Hopper that we've known and loved. But it's great to see him change and see how he's growing, and I really like the fact that the Duffers are letting him go through this.
This is the first time Stranger Things has done a post-credits scene. When the Duffer Brothers told you they wanted to do this, what was your response?
I think it's really cool. I think it's – you know, it's funny. They don't like to be locked into things going into the next season. They like their writing to be very free. I think they locked themselves into some corners with going into season two and I think at the end of season two they were very adamant about not opening the door on anything so that season three could be a pure thing – and I think the show gains from that.
Season three has a mastery to it that I think is so beautiful because of that freedom, so I was like, they clearly won't lock themselves into anything and then they did put a post-credits scene in where they were like, "We're going to commit because we're interested in this," and that's interesting.
Lastly, what's your message to the fans after they've watched season three? What do you want to say to them as they're reaching for their tissues?
It's all going to be OK [Laughs] No, I don't know. I hope you're entertained, I hope you're moved, and I hope you just loved it like I did. It's been a true honor.
Do you think there's hope for Hopper to return? How are you feeling about season three of Stranger Things? Share your thoughts with @ETnow on Twitter!