We chat with the one and only Jim Hopper about his sneaky return to the sci-fi franchise.

The series is back. Hopper is back. And yes, David Harbour is back in 'Stranger Things'.

That season three ending (from waaaaaay back in 2019, FYI) had us all in a frenzy that potentially one of the most beloved characters of the series was no more. In case you need a Hopper reminder, the last time we caught up with the former Police Chief of Hawkins he was seemingly trapped in an energy field that contained the Mind Flayer. In order to rid the world of the nefarious beast, Joyce (Winona Ryder) had to close the gate and sacrifice his life for the greater good.

However, a teaser trailer which was luckily released in very early 2020 revealed the character's fate - and he's alive and kicking, albeit in a Russian concentration camp, being held as an American prisoner.

So, what's in store for Hopper in season four? Here's how we got on with David Harbour during our virtual 'Stranger Things' junket ahead of the season's release.

Going into season three, did you know Hopper's fate? Or how did you react when you saw that you were back for season four?

Yeah, I've been lying to you press people for a year. I knew exactly at the end of season three, I mean I've known the whole time! They can't keep nothing from me, not that they trust me or care about me, just because I'm relentless in the pursuit of whether or not I'll have a job.

So, yeah, I knew - I know the whole arc of him and where he's going to end up. So I knew that he would survive this. We always kind of talked about having a resurrection of Hopper in some sense like a "Gandalfian" sort of thing where it's like he's "Hopper the Grey" and he resurrects through this brutal environment to become "Hopper the White" so he's able to fight more effectively against The Upside-Down.

And then I had to wait around for a damn year and lie to everybody by saying 'I don't know', because you don't want to spoil anything for anybody but it's this horrible conundrum that we're in now. You saw it with Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield around the 'Spider-Man' thing. It's like, of course, everybody kind of knows and everybody goes on to data-mine or whatever the hell they do to figure out these things and then you go on interviews and you just have to laugh. So I try to lie and then luckily they released that teaser before COVID, because had I had to go through two years of COVID and not tell you until now that I was alive, I wouldn't have made it.

So thank god we were able to shoot in February 2020 a little bit of footage and get that teaser out so I didn't have to, you know, lie anymore. But, you know, it's just a tough thing that we have to deal with now in this type of business. It used to be, I feel like when I was growing up, you didn't know anything about movies. Now you just know so much, and people are followed so much, that there are all these spoilers out there. So you try to do the best you can. But ultimately, it's hard.

Expect a different Jim Hopper in 'Stranger Things' season four

What can we expect from Hopper this season?

We get to see a very different guy than we've seen before. We've seen this cop/father figure thing before, and now his death and he's being resurrected as this prisoner who's kind of become this brutal warrior to have to survive the frozen wasteland of Russia. We're going to see a very different guy this season - a man that's truly broken and living in despair.

You've had some of the coolest fight scenes of the series, will we see some more this time around?

Up until last season, I'd done very little training. I'm just the kind of guy who most of my life I knew how to throw a punch, but that's about it. I'm very untrained, never really been a physical guy. I was a dorky theatre kid to be honest! Sports and things like that were never my thing.

And then I did 'Black Widow' and I had to step it up. And so for this season, I lost a lot of weight, like 70/75 pounds. You haven't seen it yet this season, but you'll see what he's become.

You're separated from the main cast this season! How was that for you?

Shooting alone is phenomenal because I get to shoot with my favourite actor - which is myself! [Laughs] I'm kidding. It was kind of a weird shoot because it didn't feel like 'Stranger Things'. We shot a lot of the series in Vilnius, Lithuania, so we didn't have our normal Atlanta crew. I don't speak Lithuanian, so I could barely speak to any of the crew.

It was very cold, I was alone, running through snowy environments, not eating and it was a hard shoot. As I said, it didn't feel like 'Stranger Things', but at the same time, it's good that we can do that because I don't want to do the same thing over and over again, I want to do something different.

Catch David Harbour in 'Stranger Things' season four this May for Volume One and July for Volume Two. Our review of the first four episodes will be live on entertainment.ie very soon. 'Stranger Things' season four begins on Netflix on Friday, May 27.