Stranger Things 4 came to an action-packed ending on Friday, July 1 with the two highly-anticipated episodes contained in Volume 2. And while many questions still linger regarding the fate of, well, pretty much everyone still alive on the series, one thing is for certain: Vecna isn’t done with Hawkins. Not by a long shot.
Spoiler warning: If you would like to avoid spoilers for Stranger Things season 4, stop reading here, as we discuss major plot points from the season.
The big bad of the season, who has drawn comparisons to genre icons like A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger and Hellraiser’s Pinhead, was the one behind the gruesome teen murders plaguing the town.
With each new kill, a new gate connecting the Upside Down to Hawkins was opened. And as time ran out, Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Will (Noah Schnapp), Steve (Joe Keery), Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), Max (Sadie Sink), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Nicole (Priah Ferguson), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Eddie (Joseph Quinn), and the rest of the gang raced against the clock to stop Vecna and save the world.
It all came down to Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), though. In Volume 1’s end, she learned that she was the one who ultimately created the Upside Down after defeating the lab’s orderly Henry (Jamie Campbell Bower) — aka “One,” Dr. Brenner’s (Matthew Modine) first patient, and Victor Creel’s (Robert Englund) psychotic young son.
Eleven didn’t kill everyone at Hawkins Lab all those years ago, it was Henry. And after their first earth-rattling confrontation, young Eleven banished him to the Upside Down, where he eventually evolved into season 4’s nightmare killer, Vecna.
The two faced-off again in Volume 2’s extra-long season finale, as the gang followed through on a multi-pronged approach to destroy the monster once-and-for-all. Following through on the formulaic underpinnings of the horror classics this season took inspiration from, Vecna was shot multiple times, set on fire, and fell to his death — but he didn’t die.
Now, with the fate of Hawkins, and the world, hanging in the balance, it’s only a matter of time before Vecna returns bigger, and badder than before in the next phase of series creators Matt and Ross Duffer’s horror phenomenon.
Rotten Tomatoes spoke with Jamie Campbell Bower to get insight into Vecna’s motivations moving forward. In our chat, Bower pieced together the big battle with Eleven, the physical challenges of the role, and the possibility for more physical fight scenes moving forward.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
(Photo by Netflix)
Aaron Pruner for Rotten Tomatoes: Now that the Upside Down is spilling into Hawkins, what do you think Vecna’s motivation is going into season 5?
Jamie Campbell Bower: I have unfinished business with a lot of people … let me tell you that much. There’s a lot of unfinished business that I need to tend to. So, I think that resentment is still there. Between him in the lab and now, I think he’s further compounded his belief system and his desire to change the world.
The show finally gave us the big boss battle between Eleven and Vecna. What sort of conversations did you have going into prepping the scene and planning the choreography? And how difficult is it to maneuver in the makeup and prosthetics?
Bower: In terms of choreographing the fight scene, it never felt sticky at any point. I think one of the great things about working with Matt and Ross is that they do tend to sort of go into things knowing what they want, and then it’s about us being able to explore the space and give them what they want, really. So there was never a point where it was like, Oh, my God, this isn’t gonna work. You know, it’s always a very collaborative conversation. Even with minor things from my perspective, things like Vecna coming out of the hole in the bleachers, I was like, it’d be great if we saw the hands first, and then the body comes up. It was another sort of dramatic reveal. And by that point, I know Vecna, I know how the suit works, and I know how the prosthetics move, so I’m not really worried about anything. So, with the second part of your question: The prosthetics move really easily. The top half is glued on and then the bottom half is a trouser piece. So it’s pretty malleable, as it were. But it certainly was hot and heavy.
(Photo by Netflix)
Horror icon Robert Englund (who also plays your father) has stated in interviews that he used the weight of the razor glove to inform the stance and walk of Freddy Krueger, which ultimately helped him find the character. Was there a detail you discovered that helped Vecna come to life for you?
Bower: Because I tracked Henry, One, and Vecna, sort of bringing them together towards the end of episode 7, and then taking them through together, I had this understanding already of the human that’s underneath this monster. There had to be levels of One and Henry in Vecna that we’ve already seen. So it was about, What is going to work well for both of them, and what suits them both emotionally? So it’s the idea of purpose, and of purposefulness, in taking great care and choice in the movement that he was going to make. This man is not wild. Freddy’s quite wild. Freddy’s quite chaotic. Henry is not. He’s much more considerate. It’s much more in the world of Doug Bradley’s Pinhead. It was about building that. Looking at my fingers and imagining my fingers being elongated. But more-so, if they were hanging down by my sides, the strength is still here in the shoulders, which are incredibly strong. It’s not only with powers in terms of being in the Upside Down, but I’m super, super strong — I can hold you up by your neck — so, as a character, I need to be able to hold that in my shoulders, too. All of those things combined, created this level of stillness.
(Photo by Netflix)
Up until now, Vecna has been wreaking havoc in Hawkins, telepathically. Now that the gates have opened, do you think we’ll see more of Vecna’s super strength at work in physical fight scenes in season 5?
Bower: Yeah, why not? Why not? I’ll tell you that.
Henry is still a huge part of Vecna. And we see his humanity peek through a bit when Eleven tells him Papa is dead. What was he feeling in that moment, because it didn’t at all feel like grief.
Bower: Yeah, there’s no grief. I don’t think there’s any sadness for the loss of Papa. I think it’s more about the fact that he’s now convincing and reminding [himself] that he loves Eleven. He loves her, but he loathes her. And Papa is nothing to him. He means nothing. He was an unfortunate experience. He’s a fly that needed to be swatted out of the way in the grand scheme of things, because he had no power. He had nothing to offer, whereas Eleven has a lot more to offer.
(Photo by Netflix)
Halloween’s just a handful of months away. Are you prepared for all the people who will dress up as Vecna?
Bower: I think it’s amazing. It’s a testament to Barrie Gower and the work of the effects team. Cheers. It’s wonderful to be part of something in this genre that I love so much that people seem to gravitate towards.
Hypothetical question: The shoe’s on the other foot and you find yourself battling Vecna. What song would you play on your Walkman to stay alive?
Bower: Hmmmm. “I Want It That Way,” by the Backstreet Boys. Yeah.