David Harbour talks Stranger Things Season 2 and the fate of Eleven

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Sep 19, 2016, 3:12 AM EDT (Updated)

The creators of Stranger Things, twins Matt and Ross Duffer, won’t say whether or not Eleven will return to the show. As Ross Duffer said to EW, “We don’t know about Eleven. We leave that up in the air.” But star David Harbour, who plays Sheriff Jim Hopper, has reasoned out the fate of the super-powered girl who takes on the Demagorgon. And loses.

Harbour spoke at Build Series on September 14, where he talked to an audience about Stranger Things, his craft, and why his foot was in a cast. And of course, the fate of Eleven.

The return of Eleven.

Eleven disappeared at the end of season one in a glorious burst of self sacrifice—which typically signals a character’s death. But Eleven’s journey to the Upside Down may end right-side up. Harbour suggests Eleven will return, based on logic:

“I will tell you that there’s no way you can create a character as iconic as Eleven in our show and kill her at the end of season one.”

On Barb, the sad-sack antiheroine who deserved more than she received.

“Apparently the creators have assured me there will be justice for Barb in season one, which I don’t know what that means. But I will disappoint you in I’m pretty sure she’s pretty dead. I don’t know that Barb will be coming back, but there will be justice.”

No one on set knew if Stranger Things would be successful…and that worked in its favor.

“We didn’t know what we were making, and we were insecure. We didn’t know if what we were making was good. We’d go home at the end of the day being scared and tired…. This has more of a feel of a pick-up game, like the replacement team. ‘We’re coming in and trying to do our best.’ 

“It bred a humbleness before the work and a humbleness before the story, and we’re like, 'Let's just tell a great story.' I like that.”

But success is almost anathema to Stranger Things’ raw look and feel. 

“The polished nature is something that we have to struggle with or at least incorporate into our process….. We’ll probably have a little more money in the budget, and I think that we have to acknowledge that, as opposed to trying to fight against it and trying to pretend. But it’s going to be a challenge, because I think part of the clunkiness of season one…is part of what gives it its charm. 

“We’re going to have to find something in season two that’s more extraordinary, and I don’t even know what that is yet. But it can’t have pretend clumsiness. We do know what we’re making now.”

What Season 2 may look like.

“[T]he characters have survived an event in their town… Hopper himself was struggling, and he battled this demon and saved this child, and he goes into season two with more of that confidence. So hopefully that’s where we start the story, and we’ll see where it takes us.”

Sheriff Jim Hopper was kind of a jerk in the beginning for a reason.

Harbour said he didn’t want to make Hopper a villain, but “a guy you don’t trust or aren’t sure about. I wanted him to grow into a heroic stature because I like that journey.

“This guy hates children. He drinks. He pops pills. He kind of makes fun of people, he’s kind of a jerk. Then I wanted you to see that that schtick that he’s developed came out of place of real personal tragedy in his life. And then you can have more compassion for him.”

How Harbour's other important project of 2016, Suicide Squad, impressed him.

Although he’s an accomplished actor with an extensive resume, Harbour says Suicide Squad was the biggest film he’s ever worked on. This was evident in a scene in a board room, where he was speaking about Superman…but instead of dime-a-dozen extras, director David Ayer hired professional actors.

“They were all accomplished Canadian actors, and there were twenty of them, and they had no lines. And I was like, whoa, this is a big production… So that kind of attention to detail—and that kind of money to back it up—was amazing.”

What would Harbour do if he weren’t an actor?

"I don’t know if I could be anything else. I’m just not very good at anything else."


We have the entire conversation for you, below. You may not be able to see it, but Harbour has spent the last few weeks with his foot in a boot cast. He recently tore his Achilles tendon…playing Achilles.