“It’s just not eating,” the actor told Page Six in September 2021, when sharing his weight loss tips. “It’s amazing. You try to do all these different things, the protein and the this and that, and then you just stop eating and you lost weight.”
The former HBO star dropped a few pounds ahead of Stranger Things season 4 after his character was kidnapped by Russians. They even weaved David’s weight loss into the show’s dialogue with Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven telling David’s Hopper, “You look … ” To which he replied, “Not fat?”
David, for his part, revealed to The New York Times in July 2021 that he actually “lost like 60 pounds through the shooting” of Black Widow, which he played Alexei Shostakov, otherwise known as Red Guardian. He recalled, “The first stuff we shot was at the prison, so that belly that’s coming at you, that’s all real belly. And then as we shot, I started to lose weight. I was just hungry a lot of the shoot.”
His Marvel role — albeit similar to that of his Stranger Things character as they both spent time in a Russian prison — ended up working to his advantage. It also allowed for Stranger Things to give fans a different side of Hopper.
“I was like, ‘We have to at least try to make these things as different as possible.’ And so it was funny. Like, I had the beard and the long hair, to be honest. I started growing that for Stranger Things,” David told The Los Angeles Times in May 2022. “And then we got Red Guardian and I was like, ‘I’m going to use the beard and the hair for this.’ And then so as I was doing that, I was talking to [Stranger Things creators] the Duffers and I was like, ‘We need to like rethink his look.’ … So I really wanted them to have big distinction. And the Duffers were totally game to like play around with all those aesthetics.”
Well, we’re glad they were! Scroll through the gallery to see David’s weight loss transformation over the years.