Stranger Things' Jamie Campbell Bower Talks Preparing To Play Vecna Without The Costume

Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD for the full Season 4 of Stranger Things

Stranger Things finally released the last two episodes of Season 4, and didn’t hold back in delivering twists, turns, and tragedies before the final credits rolled. Even though Eleven managed to save Max’s life, the heroes didn’t win this time around, and that’s all due to Vecna, also known as One and Henry. Jamie Campbell Bower played the new big bad of Netflix’s smash hit, which involved wearing an elaborate prosthetic costume to complete the nightmarish look. That said, the actor opened up to CinemaBlend about how he prepared to play Vecna without the costume. 

Following the release of Vol. 2 and the reveal of how close Vecna would get to killing both Max and Eleven, Jamie Campbell Bower spoke with CinemaBlend. After agreeing that it’s a “good” sign that his character might be scary enough to cause some nightmares, he explained how he honed his performance as Vecna while wearing all those prosthetics for the scenes with Millie Bobby Brown (who had a tearful reaction) as Eleven and Sadie Sink as Max: 

The physicality of performing with something that's quite cumbersome was a process that I had obviously to go through, and a process that started before I'd even begun to wear it. I have some videos and footage on my phone of just testing the makeup out with Barrie [Gower], and just saying the words in the costume, and it was like half on. But on my own time, out of costume, thinking about the hand, how that was going to move, how I was going to hold myself, where my strength was coming from physically and emotionally.

Jamie Campbell Bower’s only scenes without any prosthetics may have been when he played One before the massacre at Hawkins Lab, but he was able to prepare to play Vecna without wearing the full costume. Prosthetics makeup artist Barrie Gower previously told CinemaBlend about the process behind creating Vecna as a “very grounded and practical character,” and Bower’s comments prove that he didn’t need to be in head-to-toe Vecna prosthetics to hone his performance as Stranger Things’ newest (and possibly most dangerous) villain. The actor continued:

And then energetically – in terms of sort of esoterically, energetically I'm talking about here – about forcing an energy outside of its natural sort of holding place, as it were. Just forcing it out to kind of here so that it goes through the skin, and owning the space, owning whatever space I was in.

With Jamie Campbell Bower’s skin covered by the prosthetics that helped make Vecna so visually terrifying, he could also use his energy and physicality to deliver his performance. He couldn’t be as expressive with his face compared to his prosthetics-free co-stars, but still was able to “own the space” after all of his preparation outside of the costume. He elaborated on the “long process” of honing his performance as Vecna: 

So it was a long process of both thinking about it, first of all, trying it on in terms of actually trying on these moves, trying on how I was going to walk, a stillness. And then actually putting that all into its application. I was fortunate enough to be able to see sets, like the Mind Lair, before I had to shoot in them. I got a walkthrough of it. So yeah, everything, just thinking, moving, doing it all the time. It was great.

The Mind Lair was a new (and very creepy) set for the fourth season, and only fitting that the actor got a walkthrough of the space before actually performing as Vecna in all of his Upside Down villainous glory. Between his look with the costume, Bower’s physical performance, and how the character killed his victims (complete with some terrifying sound effects), Vecna may go down as the scariest villain in Stranger Things history. 

Of course, a lot depends on what happens in the fifth and final season. There’s still the question of how much of a threat the Mind Flayer actually is, and Vecna may be able to unleash the Upside Down on Hawkins after how the fourth season ended. The death of Eddie (which actor Joseph Quinn revealed was “weird” to film for an intriguing reason) means that the heroes have one less ally than they did before the Season 4 finale, and it seems safe to say that Max won’t be in the thick of the action like before.

There is no news just yet of when fans can expect Season 5, but hopefully the wait won’t be quite as long as the wait for Season 4 after Season 3 in 2019! For now, fans can always use a Netflix subscription to watch and rewatch the four seasons so far. Stranger Things has slowly but surely filled out the mythology of the Upside Down to set the stage for what should be an epic confrontation to close out the series. You can also check out our breakdown of quick things we know so far about Stranger Things Season 5!

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).