Editor’s note: The below interview contains spoilers for Season 4 of Stranger Things.
From creators the Duffer Brothersthe fourth season of Stranger Things wrapped up with what could only be described as the beginning of the end – literally, as our intrepid gang of heroes looked on while the town of Hawkins cracked open and the power of Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) and his minions from the Upside Down decisively started to leech out into reality. Although the showdown between Vecna and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) was ultimately a triumph for the good guys, it seems as though the Big Bad of not just the season – but the entire show – is only down, not completely out, and the battle did not come without some big losses in the process. . With the knowledge that next season of Stranger Things will also be its last, what comes next?
On the heels of Season 4’s final two episodes dropping on Netflix, Collider had the chance to chat with Bower about joining the show as its most terrifying villain yet, as well as when he first learned who he would actually be playing. Over the course of the interview, which you can either watch above or read below, Bower discusses the ways in which he had to adjust his performance in light of the extensive prosthetics and makeup he had to wear to portray Vecna. He also reveals which tunes he had on his Vecna playlist, in addition to whether he can reveal if he’s coming back for Season 5.
Collider: It’s been really fascinating watching your journey this season because we discover that not only are you playing one character, but you’re technically playing three characters in one. I think that’s a little more accurate to say. How soon after you were cast did you find out who you were really playing?
JAMIE CAMPBELL BOWER: The process was an interesting one in terms of being cast. I’m sure you’ve read or might have heard [that] I had two sets of sides from other projects that was given to me for the first tape and then one set of sides, dummy sides from the show. Then I made a mood board, and then I went to go meet Matt and Ross [Duffer]and had a conversation with them, and it was at that point that they kind of told me everything. It was at that point that I sort of was basically given the opportunity to work with them.
It was very, very early on. I knew pretty much everything, bar a couple of things that we find out in this volume. It was quite soon. I had kind of pieced together as well, given the sides that I was given from Primal Fear, that particularly for Henry, he was manipulating El but also having to act in a certain way in order to survive his environment. Then, when she comes in at the end of Episode 7 and meets his true feelings, that’s when everything had dropped. I knew pretty soon, is the answer.
Your role as Vecna, was that something that was withheld from the rest of the cast for a certain point? Was there a period where only very few people knew who was actually in the suit or was that something that everybody kind of knew up front?
BOWER: Everybody sort of knew it at the read-through in March of 2020 before everything went mad. I was reading the Vecna lines and obviously reading a bit of Henry as well. Actually, it was more of the reveal that Henry and Vecna and One were all the same person that people did not really know. We did not even get up to, I believe in the read-through, Episode 7, I think we just had gotten to 6. I might be wrong there. I think that was the biggest reveal for everyone, but Vecna people knew pretty soon, pretty early on, just because there was so much work involved in having to make everything beforehand.
Speaking of how much work went into this character, their prosthetics are incredible, but they also look very all-encompassing. From the position of someone who has to not only wear all of that, but act through all of that, what are some of the ways that you felt like you had to adjust your performance to account for all that effects makeup?
BOWER: First of all, physically, I started imagining and thinking about the length of particularly the left hand. How I would move that, how I would hold myself, given all the things I believe and the strength and the power that he has. Then on a sort of more energetic and spiritual level came this forcing energy and aura from my skin through the prosthetic piece, so that the prosthetic piece itself became the skin, if that makes sense. And just owning the space that I was in, particularly the Mind Lair where everything is much larger and the set was so big, that I needed to – even in a wide shot, it needed to feel like I was dominating that space. That was an interesting thing, particularly sort of in meditation and just in stillness as well, trying to just exude that a little bit more.
Did you have a Vecna playlist or any other character songs or anything that you would listen to, to get into that headspace?
BOWER: Yeah, all the time. I listened to Sano, Revenge, Carpathian Forest, bit of The Cure, Norma Jean, Mayhem. So, a lot of kind of darker black metal and Burzum. The list is endless. I’d always have that on. I’ve said this a few times, but low-frequency sound for me is something that really grounds me, so I’d also listen to a lot of low-frequency sounds. I do have a playlist and even now, if I need to … It just made me feel powerful in an interesting way. It was a strange result of … music has that ability.
We definitely get the final confrontation with Vecna at the finale, but there is a sense that business is left unfinished. So, does this mean we can safely say that we will see you again in Season 5?
BOWER: You can safely say whatever you like. My lips are very sealed, very, very much sealed in terms of Season 5. Matt and Ross, I’m sure, have plans and designs, so we’ll leave it up to our captains to tell everyone what they’re thinking.
Stranger Things Season 4 is now available to stream on Netflix.
Read more about Stranger Things Season 4:
‘Stranger Things’ Creators Explain the Duality of Will’s Speech to Mike in Episode 8
‘Stranger Things’ Creators Explain Why [SPOILER] Had to Die
Star Wars Was a Major Inspiration on The ‘Stranger Things’ Season 4 Finale, The Duffer Brothers Say