‘Stranger Things 4’: Brett Gelman Spent 3 Months Learning Black Belt Karate for Murray’s Fight Scene

“My fingers are like arrows, my arms like iron, my feet like spears.” These are the words Murray Bauman uttered to Yuri just before he unleashed his karate fury in Stranger Things Season 4. And much to Yuri’s surprise, Murray really did have quite the martial arts skillset. No stunt doubles were involved in that epic scene on the plane — it was all Brett Gelman, the actor behind Murray. In a recent interview, Gelman shared how he prepared for Murray’s karate scene in Stranger Things 4.

Brett Gelman performs a karate move as Murray Bauman in Stranger Things Season 4.
Brett Gelman as Murray Bauman in ‘Stranger Things 4’ | Netflix

Murray Bauman became an action hero in ‘Stranger Things’ Season 4

Stranger Things introduced Murray in season 2 as a former investigative journalist and conspiracy theorist who would go on to help the Hawkins kids take down Hawkins Lab. At first, he alienated himself from the outside world and struggled to trust anyone. However, in season 3, Murray befriended Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) and Jim Hopper (David Harbour) and opened up a bit. He used his Russian language skills and government knowledge to help their investigation into the Russian operation hidden beneath the Hawkins mall.

In Stranger Things 4, Murray became a full-blown action hero. He accompanied Joyce on a mission to rescue Hopper from Russian imprisonment, taking down multiple Russian guards in the process. In addition to showing off his karate skills, Murray had a badass moment with a flamethrower in which he torched a cluster of Demogorgons.

In an interview with Vulture, Gelman explained that he felt like a real action star this season.

“I felt like Harrison Ford or Bruce Willis or Eddie Murphy,” he said. “Being able to put my own stamp on that archetype was absolutely thrilling. It was a childhood fantasy coming true before my very eyes at every second.”

How Brett Gelman prepared for Murray Blauman’s karate scene in ‘Stranger Things 4’

Thanks to a “heads-up” from the Duffer brothers, Gelman knew his character would see way more action in Stranger Things 4. So, as the actor recently revealed to The Hollywood Reporter, he started training right away. Gelman explained that he spent three months learning black belt karate moves to prepare for Murray’s battles with Yuri (Nikola Đuričko) and the Russian prison guards.

“[The Duffers] wanted me to really learn it, so we could visually justify or sell that I was a black belt because that’s not just doing some karate moves. They needed to be black belt moves. We wanted funny, but not Beverly Hills Ninja-type of funny,” Gelman said. “It was exhausting, and it definitely challenged me physically, without a doubt.”

Thankfully, the experience was still enjoyable for Gelman. In fact, he’s still working on his karate moves today. The Fleabag star said he’s currently studying Tae Kwon Do and working through the belt program. But while Murray is already at black belt level, Gelman is still working toward his beginner level orange belt.

“For the show, they were teaching me black belt moves in order to increase my vocabulary and really quickly giving me a wide range of knowledge,” Gelman added. “It was also them assessing what my body could do, which, surprisingly, was a lot. (Laughs.) That was a real thrill for me to find out!”

Brett Gelman also learned to speak Russian for season 4

Gelman’s Stranger Things 4 studies didn’t only include karate. He also had to really work on his Russian language skills so that Murray could believably pretend to be a Russian at the prison.

“This season, as opposed to last season, it was different because last season I just had to speak the language, I didn’t have to come off as a Russian,” he told THR. “So, this season wasn’t only [my coach] teaching me how to say the phrases and teach me the meaning, I had to learn how to speak the dialect so that Murray could pass himself off as a Russian to Russians.”

Though Gelman would “love” to continue learning Russian, he wants to focus on other languages first, like Spanish and Hebrew.

“I believe that every American should learn Spanish because it’s our other language. And then Hebrew because my girlfriend comes from Israeli roots,” he said. “I want to learn, so I know when she’s talking s*** about me.”

Stranger Things 4 is now streaming on Netflix.

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