Onscreen lovers and offscreen besties! Since Stranger Things debuted in 2016, Winona Ryder and David Harbour have gushed about getting the chance to collaborate on Joyce Byers and Jim Hopper’s love story.
The Netflix sci-fi series explored the fictional couple from two people caught up in their town’s supernatural events to best friends who finally get the chance to take their relationship to the next level in season 4.
According to Harbour, the development for Joyce and Hopper’s romance (a.k.a. Jopper) was a longtime coming for him and Ryder.
“It’s something that we’ve mapped out, how much they want to show is really up to them. Winona and I postulate a bunch of stuff, we have a bunch of theories. Some of them are very wild, and some of them are very tame,” he told Variety in May 2022, shortly after the first installment of season 4 premiered. “In general, they had a time in high school — they knew each other when they were super innocent, and they had all this potential, both of them.”
The actor noted that their characters had to come back together to have a second chance at something more.
“Now they don’t have much potential. They’re sort of what they are. Knowing someone who, when you look in their eyes, you see that young person they were, is part of the bond between the two of them,” the New York native continued. “They’ve known each other for so long and knew what you wanted to be and what you couldn’t be and what you couldn’t be. I think they have a very complex love for each other. It’s not just romantic. It’s much more complex than that.”
At the time, Harbour pointed out that Joyce and Hopper weren’t meant to work sooner than season 4. “I certainly feel like, from what happened in season 3, it couldn’t work. The guy from season 3 and woman from season 3 could not work,” he said. “Clearly there’s some chemistry and there is a longing for them to be together, but they would they would have to become different people.”
The Suicide Squad actor later took to social media to praise his scene partner for her hard work over the years. “The vital beating heart behind every season of Stranger Things is Joyce and Winona Ryder’s stunning performance for the last seven years,” Harbour wrote via Instagram in June 2022. “Joyce will save her son, all the Hawkins kids, Hopper and the withering magnetism of her funky kitchen magnets.”
In July 2022, viewers witnessed Joyce and Hopper’s reunion in Russia — which led them to finally admit their feelings for one another. “I do think it’s a bit of fan service,” Harbour told GQ that same month about the onscreen pair. “I think there was a real appetite for mommy and daddy to get back together again. And then once we were on that train, it seemed like an inevitability.”
Scroll down for all Harbour and Ryder’s sweetest quotes about bringing Hopper and Joyce’s love to life: