WARNING: The following article contains SPOILERS regarding the identity of Stranger Things 4‘s Vecna actor and character
With most modern big-budget productions, it’s easy to assume that non-human creatures mostly feature digital enhancement. But not so in the case of the Vecna, Stranger Things‘ newest villain. While digital animation may bring his tentacles to life, the full-body costume took seven and a half hours to apply each day. Actor Jamie Campbell Bower, who plays Vecna in his demon and original human form, described the process to Variety in a recent feature.
“I came in in character, wearing the character, so I’m sitting in the makeup chair very still, not really talking to anyone,” he says, having used music to help get into the mindset. But that wasn’t enough. After the makeup artists completed the process, he asked production assistants to find him a dark room to sit in for that perfect Upside Down mindset. “It was totally pitch black. I’d sit in there between the takes and go for it. It was it really interesting. About halfway through, I started to become quite afraid of Vecna,” he says. “I remember seeing Matthew Modine one day and being like, ‘Modine, I’m terrified of this person. It’s really weird.’ He’s like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s good!’ I was like, ‘Oh, thanks for your help, buddy!'”
Outside of the makeup, he’s make himself mad. “I wouldn’t speak to people. I wouldn’t speak to anybody outside of the Stranger Things world for at least four days before filming anything. I would find myself doing some pretty wild stuff. If anyone saw me walking around the streets of Atlanta at 2 o’clock in the morning talking to myself, they would understand. I was just bringing up a lot of anger, particularly for Vecna.”
Part of what scored Bower the role was his ability to deduce, based on dummy audition scripts, how the story and character would go. “I went crazy for, like, two days. In my apartment, I put a picture of Will Byers in the middle, and then all the other characters around it, and then sort of made this Claire Danes-esque from ‘Homeland’ mind-map of who I thought this person was. I stepped back from it after two days, and was like, that feels kind of good,” he says. After putting it all in a folder, he showed it to the Duffer brothers.
“They looked up at me after going through it, and they went, ‘Have you been given the scripts?’ I was like, ‘No, honestly, all I’ve been given are your dummy sides, and the two sides from the show,'” Bower recalls. “They were like, ‘This is literally perfect. Everything that you’ve gotten here is perfect. Your references are perfect. The inspiration is perfect. Do you mind if we show you some more visual references that we have and what we’re thinking, and tell you a little bit more about the character?’ I think by that point, they knew I wasn’t completely insane.”
The end result, however, made for a suitably insane villain. What did you think of Bower’s performance? Let us know in comments.
Recommended Reading: Stranger Things: The Other Side (Graphic Novel Volume 1)
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