The Duffer brothers and David Harbour interview each other.
They’re the writer-directors who dreamed up the paranormal blockbuster Stranger Things. He’s the actor who brought Police Chief Jim Hopper to life as the series’ hot-tempered lawman with the wounded soul. For Queue, brothers Matt and Ross Duffer interview — and are interviewed by — powerhouse David Harbour. Naturally, they address the biggest question of all: After seeming to sacrifice himself to save the town of Hawkins, is Hopper somehow still alive?In a wide-ranging discussion, the artistic collaborators reminisce about the show’s third season, which saw Hopper struggling to parent his supernaturally gifted adopted daughter, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), while wrestling with complicated feelings for Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder). They also talk some serious shop, exploring the evolution of their creative processes, getting candid about working with the show’s youthful cast, and pissing one another off in the name of art.
THE DUFFER BROTHERS INTERVIEW DAVID HARBOUR
Matt Duffer: On a scale of 1 to 10, how much did you hate having to hide Hopper’s fate from the public?
David Harbour: On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give it an 11. It was awful. I’d go on talk shows, and they’d be like, “So, you’re dead?” I’d be like, “I guess so.” I just had to lie to people. I feel like everybody kind of knew that he wasn’t dead, because you didn’t see the body, and in sci-fi, if you don’t see the body . . . Also, I think people love him so much — as I do — that they didn’t want him to be dead.
Sometimes it can be the greatest gift when you’re in that moment and you think, Oh, the Duffer brothers are watching the monitor. I can feel them being proud of me.”
Ross Duffer: Hopper really is completely out of his element when it comes to dealing with these teenagers. What about you? Are you out of your element dealing with this young cast?
DH: It was an adjustment, but I do feel like at this point we understand each other’s idiosyncrasies so well that we just fall into this work mode that feels seamless. But I do feel like they’re there to work and they’re there to bear the weight and they’re there to be brilliant.
DAVID HARBOUR INTERVIEWS THE DUFFER BROTHERS
David Harbour: What do you value most in each other artistically?
Matt Duffer: Obviously, we share so many of the same skills. But still, we’re stronger in some areas than others. In the writing part of the process, Ross always keeps his foot on the gas and keeps us going. I think if it were me, we’d still be on page 30 of the first script. By the time we’re in production, we’re very much in sync. We can just make eye contact, and we know whether we got it the way we wanted it and the way we intended it.
Ross Duffer: The script is usually the battleground.
MD: Exactly, the script is the battleground.
We’ve loved that the canvas of characters has grown, and that we’re able to spend time with them and really get to know them.”
DH: How has your artistic worldview changed in the last 10 years?
RD: If you look back at our earlier scripts, they feel like we’re just trying to write movies. Stranger Things came to us so easily. We wrote that pilot ridiculously fast. For us, it was really going, What were we like as kids with our friends? Just the simplicity of taking something that is very much from your own life, and translating that and making it personal, not only elevated it but also made it less of a struggle. That was a big turning point. Learning that it shouldn’t be a struggle.
MD: I think any time you write something, a part of yourself is going to go into it. Now, maybe, we’re a little bit more aware of what we’re putting out there, especially because we have such a young audience. You’re like, Wow, this show has a lot of reach. Are there any positive messages that we really believe in that we can put in there? For Season 3, [introducing Maya Hawke’s character] Robin was a big idea we had early on — having a gay character that you fall in love with.
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