In a strange bit of coincidence, actor David Harbour is set to portray Alexei Shostakov aka Red Guardian in the upcoming Black Widow movie. In the MCU adventure, Harbour's character is a Russian super-soldier who has spent a lot of time in prison. Meanwhile, the actor is also set to reprise his role as Jim Hopper for the fourth season of Stranger Things, in which Jim has been captured and placed in a Russian prison.
In an interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Harbour revealed that he had to take photos of his look from the sets of Black Widow and send them to the creators of Stranger Things to make sure Hopper's look for the fourth season does not end up looking too similar.
"I had started growing out my hair, but then I got cast in this other thing to play a Russian prisoner. I had this long hair and this beard and I was big and I thought, 'I can't be the same guy with long hair and a beard in the same prison.' So I was taking pictures of the [Black Widow] set unbeknownst to anyone and sending them to [Stranger Things creators] The Duffer Brothers, making sure they didn't use any of the same colors as the set and the look was different and the outfits were different. I kept sending these photos and finally at the end I had all this hair and beard and we had planned to do it this way, but I was like, 'Guys we can't do this, I'm coming out with this Marvel movie, I can't have the beard and the hair.' So we came up with a whole different look for him, we had him shave his head."
The results of Harbour's musings can be seen in the images from Stranger Things season 4 that have been released. Hopper is shown with a fully-shaved head, looking more menacing than ever. But as formidable a fighter as Hopper might be, Harbour's other upcoming character The Red Guardian is on a whole different level. Injected with a version of the super-soldier serum used on Captain America Steve Rogers, the Guardian is clearly still a formidable fighter in his middle age, when audiences will be first introduced to him in Black Widow. In a previous interview, David Harbour had described Alexei Shostakov aka Red Guardian as the MCU's best character.
"I think I'm biased, but I think it's the best character in all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I mean, he is a narcissist, so it's very appropriate that I'm playing him and that I think that. But he's just got so many layers. On one level, he's your classic superhero badass character, but then when you meet him, he has this need to be liked, and he wants to be thought of as funny and a big shot - which he isn't."
Created by the Duffer Brothers, Stranger Things stars Winona Ryder, Millie Bobby Brown, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Noah Schnapp, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, Priah Ferguson, Cary Elwes, Jake Busey, Maya Thurman-Hawke and Levon Thurman-Hawke. Season 4 has yet to receive a release date.
Meanwhile , Black Widow stars Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian, O-T Fagbenle as Mason and Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff. The film arrives in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access on July 9.