Stranger Things: I pinch myself at my luck, says actor Jamie Campbell Bower (2023)

  • Published

By Helen Bushby and Mark Savage

BBC News

This article contains spoilers for series four of Stranger Things

Image source, Netflix

Jamie Campbell Bower, who plays the monstrous Vecna in the latest season of Stranger Things, has arguably suffered for his art after enduring eight hours of make-up a day to become the Netflix show's supernatural serial killer.

He's pretty relaxed about it, though, saying he took regular breaks throughout the painstaking process.

"I'll be honest, I'm a smoker. So we went into this great flow, where we realised we could maybe take about a five-minute break every hour or so.

"I'd step outside, grab a bit of air."

Coated in lubricant

Fans of the hugely popular show, which first appeared in 2016, are preparing to see what happens to the inhabitants of Hawkins when it returns on Friday.

Campbell Bower is obviously key to the storyline, and tells the BBC it was an "absolute pleasure, an honour" to work with Barrie Gower, who created the show's creature prosthetics.

Image source, Netflix

Gower also created prosthetics for Game of Thrones - including the terrifying Night King - and radiation burns on TV drama Chernobyl.

Vanity Fair produced a YouTube video about Vecna's make-up process, which Gower explained ended with a 15-minute session coating the actor in lubricant to make him look "glossy". It was a bit of a surprise for anyone who shook hands with him on set.

As volume one of season four ended, fans learned that the Upside Down and Vecna were the aftermath of a huge fight between the psychokinetic powers of Campbell Bower's pre-Vecna character and Millie Bobby Brown's Eleven.

(Video) Jamie Campbell Bower transformation to 001

Critics were impressed with the opening of series four, with The Times calling it "a brilliantly dark return for a horror like no other", while The Independent said the new season is "formulaic, but who's complaining when the formula is this fabulous?"

Image source, Netflix

Campbell Bower says he had to ooze Vecna's evil energy through the 25 prosthetics, which were glued to his skin.

"I came to the understanding that my skin had to be another layer above itself. The energy has to push through another level of clothes, so that it was exuding from the costume itself."

He says some scenes were "terrifying" because he realised he had to "fill this stage with my presence... it was crazy, just crazy".

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So how did he prepare to be so utterly terrifying?

"I did a few things," he explains. "I had a mood board that I started making quite early on in the process. So I always had that with me on set and where I was living, and it grew over time."

He added pictures of characters on the show he would be interacting with, scribbling on their images with a red pen.

"Meditation was also a big thing. Clearing out my own space, allowing this fury and resentment to come through, was very interesting for me," he explains.

"I spent quite a bit of time kind of on my own, walking around saying the same thing over and over again, staring into the eyes of whoever was next on the mood board."

Image source, Netflix

(Video) Joseph Quinn and Jamie Campbell Bower Are A Chaotic Married Couple

As well as focusing on the role mentally, he also ensured everything he looked at was connected with his character - even his phone background, which he changed to a burning house.

"For those of you who have seen the first volume of season four, obviously there's a story there with his father Victor," he says. "So I just made sure that everything I was ingesting was of relevance.

"I threw myself into it - if you don't commit yourself 100% to something, your chance of success - feeling fulfilled and a sense of achievement - is significantly reduced.

"I'm only here once, so why not?"

Campbell Bower is softly spoken, and nothing like the growling, sadistic Vecna. So what was it like to scare the life out of his castmates?

Image source, EPA

He lets a laugh escape and says: "I'll be honest with you, it was really fun. As an actor, you're sometimes fortunate enough to be given a position of power within scenes.

"It taps into a very interesting side of the human psyche, which is, 'I'm in charge now'.

"It's quite an enjoyable moment to go through - obviously there were times where I felt bad for my fellow team members. So we'd make sure they knew that it was me inside there, a gentle touch of an arm or just to look in their eye to say, 'It's me by the way, it's OK'.

"I think it put quite a few people at rest, but some of the crew were terrified, particularly when we first started working.

"I was skulking round a corner and bumped into a crew member, and there was this scream from the side of the stage, and I chuckled to myself. That was fun!"

Image source, Netflix

The arrival of Vecna has coincided with the show propelling Kate Bush's hypnotic hit Running Up That Hill to the top of the UK singles chart, 37 years after its original release.

The song features as a recurring motif, obsessively played by one of the teenage protagonists, Max Mayfield (played by Sadie Sink), as she struggles to come to terms with her brother's death.

In one pivotal scene, Vecna tries to invade Max's mind - but Bush comes to the rescue.

"Her friends realise the best way to get her out of this state is to play music, to remind her of reality," says Campbell Bower. "It's the space she goes to to feel safe and comfortable.

"All of a sudden, the song starts playing and it gives her the strength and the power to overcome that moment, which I think is absolutely beautiful."

(Video) 15 Stranger Things Scenes That Made The Cast Cry For Real

Image source, Netflix

He calls the song "ethereal", saying: "I think it's just grabbing at the emotional core of who we are. And that comes from everyone involved in the process - Kate Bush, the team, everyone. It's amazing."

Campbell Bower is also a musician and singer. So what songs would he listen to, to snap himself back to reality?

"Goodness me, it really depends on what sort of mood I want to be in," he smiles.

"For me, I tend to use music to emphasise a feeling that I'm having on the inside, or to draw power to within myself.

"When I was preparing for this show, it just so happened that at the same time I really got into [the album] Pornography by The Cure. That record makes me feel very grounded, brings me back down to earth."

Away from Stranger Things, he says "bands like Blink 182 were a vibe for me", but adds: "I love everything. I absolutely adore everything."

He adds that for the finale of series four, he listened to "dark, heavy music that would increase the heart rate".

"I think often we're not very conscious of the fact that music has such an impact on the choices we make. There's there's a specific reason that supermarkets play some music - you know, it forces you into a state like, 'I'm gonna buy this now'.

"So I'm always very interested in that, too."

He also talks about the scale of Stranger Things, and "the talent and the intelligence and the genius of the writing and the crew".

"It's a total blessing to be around," he says.

"I consider myself lucky. I pinch myself often, and it's just a really great group of people who really care about making something beautiful. What more can you ask for?"

Volume two of season four of Stranger Things is on Netflix from Friday, 1 July.

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  • Television
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(Video) Jamie Campbell Bower and Joseph Quinn being funny and wholesome together for 27 minutes

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Does Jamie Campbell Bower actually play Vecna? ›

Jamie Campbell Bower's performance as Vecna is so powerful and terrifying that even in real life, on-set, the actor actually made his co-stars afraid of him. In fact, per Netflix Life, Millie Bobby Brown cried the first time she saw Bower as Vecna.

Who plays 001 in Stranger Things? ›

Henry Creel was the first, which is why Dr. Brenner gave him the “001” on his wrist. Henry Creel is portrayed by actor Jamie Campbell Bower.

What actor plays Vecna in Stranger Things 4? ›

Jamie Campbell Bower, the actor from Stranger Things 4 who — spoiler art — plays the murderous creature Vecna and its human counterpart Henry Creel, is also a musician. On Friday (Aug.

What episodes of Stranger Things is Jamie Campbell Bower in? ›

"Stranger Things" Chapter Six: The Dive (TV Episode 2022) - Jamie Campbell Bower as Friendly Orderly - IMDb.

Is Vecna A Boy or a girl? ›

TitleThe Arch-Lich, the Chained God, the Maimed God, Master of the Spider Throne, the Whispered One, the Dying King, the Lord of the Rotted Tower, the Undying King
AlignmentNeutral Evil
HomePrime Material (Oerth)
8 more rows

Who is 010 in Stranger Things? ›

Ten, portrayed by Christian Ganiere, was a recurring character in the fourth season of Stranger Things. He was one of several test subjects experimented upon at Hawkins Lab by Dr. Martin Brenner and was among those who were killed by One on September 8, 1979.

Who is Eleven's biological father? ›

Is One Eleven's father? ›

Eleven was born in 1971, meaning that Ives was pregnant with her while she was still involved with MKUltra. The Stranger Things prequel novel Suspicious Minds reveals that Eleven's father is a man named Andrew Rich, who was dating Ives during her time with MKUltra until his death fighting in the Vietnam War.

What is Vecna's real name? ›

His name is Henry Creel and you should not call him Peter. You can, but it's weird." The shock twist in episode 7 of Stranger Things 4 revealed that Eleven and Vecna (aka Henry Creel or 'One') have a long history with each other, which could well come to a head in the plus-sized final episodes next month.

How long did Vecna makeup take? ›

How long did it take to apply everything? It was a seven-hour application on Jamie every day. I think we got it down to about six hours and 20 minutes—that was the quickest.

Where is the Vecna House located? ›

The real-life house used as the Creel home in the show is a 140-year-old mansion located in Rome, Georgia. The home is officially for sale for $1.5 million, according to the listing.

Is Vecna's voice real? ›

Are Vecna and 1 the same actor? ›

That's why actor Jamie Campbell Bower's performance in the series is winning accolades. From being the soft-hearted, mentor-like figure One to an unapologetic Vecna who embraces his dark side to create the Upside Down, Bower has displayed his acting chops to the full extent.

Who has Vecna killed so far? ›

Based on the flashback in “The Hellfire Club”, he killed an estimated 21 people: 13 lab subjects, two orderlies, two guards, Ten, Alec, Dr. Ellis, and Six. A flashback during “The Massacre at Hawkins Lab” later reveals that Vecna killed even more people in Hawkins Lab than we thought.

Is Vecna 11's dad? ›

Next up, the viewers go on to theorise that One/Vecna is actually Eleven's dad. Yep, told you it was wild. The theory claims that Brenner wanted to create a child with stronger powers, so he waited until One was old enough to become a father.

Why is Vecna's hand so big? ›

Vecna's Hand

This is a reference to the D&D character Vecna, for whom this Vecna is named; the D&D Vecna has a monstrous hand infused with dark magic. The design of Vecna's hand is also a nod to Freddy Krueger, the Nightmare on Elm Street villain who had a huge influence on this season in general.

How did Vecna choose his victims? ›

While intending to get his revenge on Eleven and Brenner, Vecna also goes after victims who have dealt with traumatizing experiences in the past (reminiscent of his childhood and his time at the Hawkins lab).

Who controls Vecna? ›

Connecting to the Mind Flayer's hive mind allowed Henry Creel to become the version of Vecna that audiences see in Stranger Things season 4, controlling the Demobats, Demodogs, and Demogorgons across the Upside Down and the real world.

Why did Vecna turn into a monster? ›

Then, as he was falling through the Upside Down, One became the creature Vecna after lightning struck him in such a way that it changed his skin and made him into the monster he is now.

Could Eddie have survived? ›

The Duffer brothers stated that the only logical conclusion to Eddie's story was death. In a way, he was meant to be a tragic character. "There was never any other arc for him and there was no 'how do you survive this'?" said Ross Duffer. "At the very end, you see people still drawing devil horns on his head.

Is Eleven the demogorgon? ›

Trivia. The Demogorgon Dungeons & Dragons figure, used by Eleven to symbolize the Monster. The Demogorgon received its nickname from Eleven using the Demogorgon game piece from a Dungeons & Dragons set to show that Will was hiding from the creature in her vision of The Upside Down.

Who was 002 in Stranger Things? ›

Two is a posthumous antagonist in Stranger Things, serving as a minor flashback antagonist in Season 4. He was one of Martin Brenner's test subjects at Hawkins National Laboratory. Once feeling inferior to Eleven, he gathered up other psychics and brutally assaulted Eleven. He is portrayed by Tristan Spohn.

What did Vecna's parents do? ›

Realizing he had tremendous psychic power, he haunted his family with visions before ultimately killing most of them. His father was framed for the murders and locked away in a mental hospital as a disturbed serial killer. Henry then found himself in the care of Brenner, who decided he wanted more kids like the boy.

Who is Eleven's sister? ›

Linnea Berthelsen (born 13 July 1993) is a Danish actress of Indian descent, who is best known for her recurring role as Kali, also known as Eight, the sister of Eleven in the second season of the science-fiction horror Netflix original series Stranger Things.

Is Vecna related to Eleven? ›

We know Eleven was born in 1971, which means her mom got pregnant with her during the tests, sometime in 1970. A 1959 flashback in the mid-season 4 finale reveals a 12-year-old One (Jamie Campbell Bower). That puts One, a.k.a. Vecna, as 24 when Eleven was born.

Is Vecna dead? ›

On top of that, Will Byers confirms that Vecna is, in fact, alive. Byers has a deep connection with Upside Down, so he can always sense the existence of Mind Flayer or Vecna. After returning to Hawkins, Will can sense that Vecna is injured and in pain, but the demon from Upside Down isn't dead.

How old is Vecna? ›

Provided he actually ages in the Upside Down, Vecna could be in his late 30s in 1986, the year that Stranger Things season 4, volume 1 takes place. Vecna became a monster seven years prior, when Eleven defeated the adult Henry Creel, a.k.a. Number One, at Hawkins Lab and he became banished to the Upside Down.

Is Eleven's dad evil? ›

Brenner being a villainous character continued to unfold as Season 2 revealed more heinous acts that the scientist had committed, including setting up a conspiracy to take Eleven away from her mother at birth and further harming the mother when she attempted to take her daughter back.

Who took Vecna's eye? ›

In the D&D realm, a defining feature of Vecna is that he's missing his left hand and left eye. This is because his trusted accomplice, Kas the Bloody-Handed, betrayed him and used the sword Vecna created himself to chop off his left hand and remove his left eye. This ultimately destroyed Vecna.

What is Vecna's fear? ›

Through dark magic and conquest, he forged a terrible empire. For all his power, Vecna couldn't escape his own mortality. He began to fear death and take steps to prevent his end from ever coming about.

Who cut Vecna's hand? ›

Arkhan grappled the Hand. Percy had considered shooting it off, but it couldn't be done. When the party defeated Vecna and banished him, the Hand once again remained. Arkhan pretended to prepare to destroy the Hand, cut off his own left hand, somehow attuned to the artifact in an instant, and used it to Teleport away.

How did Vecna get his skin? ›

Ready to see the prosthetics designer in action? Keep reading! Season four of Stranger Things saw its scariest villain yet: Vecna. Played by Jamie Campbell Bower, each prosthetic was glued to his skin with medical adhesive by prosthetics designer Barrie Gower and his team.

Who wears Vecna suit? ›

Vecna isn't as terrifying in the bathroom. Actor Jamie Campbell Bower, who played the complicated villain in “Stranger Things 4,” revealed that his terrifying Freddy Krueger-esque full-body prosthetics included a “flap” for him to use the restroom without getting out of costume.

How old was 11 when she sent Vecna to the upside down? ›

When Eleven realized what Henry had done, she summoned an enormous amount of power and defeated the older man. Her psionic abilities were so advanced (even at the age of about 7 years old) that she opened a gateway between dimensions and banished Henry into the Upside Down.

Who is inside Vecna? ›

The final scene of Volume 1 shows a shot of Vecna, and a close up of the 001 tattoo on his arm, confirming that Henry Creel, a.k.a. Number One, became Vecna.

Who is underneath Vecna? ›

It's revealed that Vecna is actually Victor Creel's son, Henry. After realizing he has powers while feeling alone in his own home, Henry decides to attack his own family and kill them to test his power. Victor is framed for the murders at Creel House, while his son is taken away.

Is Vecna pure evil? ›

Stranger Things season 4 confirms that Jamie Campbell Bower's Vecna is pure evil and cannot be given a redemption arc that'll fit his story.

Who is Vecna's sister? ›

Birth and early life. Henry Creel was born in 1947 to Victor and Virginia Creel, and had an older sister by three years named Alice. He did not fit in with his peers; his father described him as a "sensitive" boy.

Who is Vecna's family? ›

What is Vecna's origin story on Stranger Things? In episode 7, Vecna is revealed to be Henry Creel (played as a youngster by Raphael Luce), the son of Victor Creel (Robert Englund) and his wife Virginia (Tyner Rushing) shown in the 1950s flashbacks.

Why did Vecna's hands change? ›

The Hand and Eye of Vecna were all that remained of the arch-lich Vecna after his betrayal at the hands of his trusted vampire lieutanant, Kas the Bloody-Handed. Using a sword crafted by Vecna himself, Kas manage to cut off Vecna's left hand and left eye before in turn being destroyed.

Who was before Vecna? ›

In the television show, Vecna–before he was Vecna–was Henry, a young child who moved to Hawkins with his family, the Creels, in the '60s. He exhibited powers from a young age and generally terrorized his family, eventually killing them.

Was Vecna once a person? ›

A Troubled Henry Creel Moves to Hawkins. Vecna was not always a hideous beast of the Upside Down. He was once a troubled child in the real world named Henry Creel. Henry's “problems” caused his family to move to Hawkins in 1959.

Why is he named Vecna? ›

The name Vecna is actually an anagram for Vance, an ode to fantasy author Jack Vance, whose works were the inspiration behind the magic system used in Dungeons & Dragons. Vecna is mentioned in early iterations of Dungeons & Dragons but is introduced formally in the 3rd Edition of the game.

Why is Vecna obsessed with clocks? ›

Vecna's obsession with time appears to be linked to his hatred of humanity. He views time as a human imposition on the natural world; an attempt to impose order on nature.

What does Vecna want? ›

What Does Vecna Want? Vecna's goal is to open as many gates to the Upside Down as he can, in order to help the Mind Flayer.

Does Jamie use his real voice for Vecna? ›

Vecna is brought to life by actor Jamie Campbell Bower, who portrays both the tentacled monster and his human counterpart. This meant Bower's appearance, both physically and verbally, was ever changing on set. "It's about 90 percent real.

Who plays Jamie Vecna? ›

In 2022, Bower received critical acclaim for his performance as Vecna in the fourth series of Stranger Things. From 2015 to 2020, he was the frontman of the London-based band Counterfeit. He has also released music as a solo artist.

Does Jamie play Vecna and 001? ›

Campbell finally opens up about playing Henry/One/Vecna. And, yes, that is him wearing the Vecna prosthetics and making that deep Vecna voice.

Is Vecna played by a real person? ›

Once it came time to physically transform into Vecna, it was quite the process. While viewers may assume that it's mostly CGI, it's actually “90%” Bower, he estimates. The vines are real vines on his costume; the only thing added in post-production is the movement within them.

How did they create Vecna's voice? ›

For Vecna's voice, Henighan says they took Campbell Bower's performance and manipulated his voice so that “the clarity, the strength and the power was there. …

Is Vecna real or CGI? ›

'Stranger Things' VFX Supervisor Breaks Down Blending CGI and Practical Effects on Vecna. "It was a very intricate collaboration between practical and VFX on this one."

Who was running from Vecna? ›

Max tries to outrun Vecna when he materializes as himself, but finds herself in the Upside Down. While caught in Vecna's grip, a tear in the dark dimension reveals her friends on the other side, desperately trying to save her from Vecna's curse.

Who did Vecna play in Harry Potter? ›

'" Despite that early audition not working out, Bower eventually found his way into the Harry Potter franchise, appearing in both Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald as a younger version of Gellert Grindelwald.

Who did Vecna play in Twilight? ›

I think life was just so crazy and hectic it was just one of those things that never came to fruition.” But Bower did eventually make it into the Twilight franchise, playing the villain Caius. Now that he's gotten famous for playing Vecna, I think he's going to be offered villain roles until the day he dies.

Is Karen and Vecna siblings? ›

Karen being Vecna's sister would also make the relationship between Mike and Eleven a bit strange, as even though Vecna and Eleven are not related, he's the reason she has powers.

Are El and Vecna connected? ›

They are connected because Will was the first victim. That's it. Eleven is Vecna's true foil, an anti-Vecna, if you will. We learned a lot about Eleven's connection to Vecna and how their brutal fight in Hawkins Lab manifested the Upside Down.

How did Henry Creel turn into Vecna? ›

There's only a short time between when a recognizable Bower first shows up on screen in Episode 6 to the end of Episode 7 when Eleven blasts Henry into the Upside Down, permanently disfiguring him and turning him into Vecna, but Bower makes the most of every minute of it.

Are Eddie and Vecna related? ›

Vecna had no connection to Eddie whatsoever. The murderous villain had his four targets, and he exploited them to make his giant gate into Hawkins. If he wanted Eddie, he would already have taken him and made him one of the Upside Down minions.

Is Vecna a corpse? ›

Vecna is the god of secrets, the undead and necromancy. He is usually depicted as a mummified, desiccated corpse missing his left hand and left eye.

Who wore the Vecna suit? ›

Jamie Campbell Bower wore a costume and prosthetics to transform into Vecna in "Stranger Things."

Why does Vecna look like that? ›

Victor is a tragic man who saved himself from being murdered by Vecna by gouging out his own eyes, so Gower's team designed the scarred eyelid prosthetics for the character in the scene where Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Robin (Maya Hawke) meet with him in the asylum he's held in.


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