WARNING: The below contains FULL SPOILERS for Stranger Things Season 4, Part 2, which is now streaming on Netflix. For spoiler-free Stranger Things coverage, check out our review of Part 2.
Back when Stranger Things Season 4, Part 1 debuted, Jamie Campbell Bower – the actor behind Vecna/Henry/One – sat down with IGN and revealed that Eleven actress Millie Bobby Brown burst into tears upon seeing him in full Vecna garb.
Still, back then, he had to be coy about that, since in the show, Eleven and Vecna hadn’t confronted each other yet. Now that Part 2 is out, Bower chatted with IGN again and revealed that it was just before Vecna and Eleven’s big showdown in the Mind Lair that Brown cried at the chilling costume – and the production decided to roll with it.
“That's the day I've been talking about,” he says. “And her reaction, what you see on camera, is pretty much what was done on the day.”
“She saw me, burst into tears, and then [cinematographer Caleb Heymann] turned around to everyone and was like ‘we should film on Mills now.’ And everyone was like, ‘absolutely. Just set it up, let's go,’ “ he continues. “And I gave her space, I gave her distance, because when a reaction like that is happening, it's so important that it's maintained. And so I gave her distance and let her know that it was me when we were moving on, and I think that made her much more comfortable… And bless her, she absolutely brought it.”
That scene is one of a few big ones for Vecna in the season finale, which also sees him finally go toe-to-toe with Eleven earlier in that episode and later being lit ablaze by Nancy, Steve, and Robin while he’s distracted in the Mind Lair.
And since so much about Vecna is practical effects – he previously told IGN it takes seven and a half hours to get into full costume and prosthetics – we felt we needed to ask him if he was actually on fire while Vecna was burning. He wasn’t, of course, but pretty much everything else in that scene, which sees Vecna shot and thrown out the window, was mostly real.
“The fire itself is digital, but in terms of Nance giving Vecna the 'ol shotgun to the face, [actress] Natalia [Dyer] was there with the gun, and I'm reacting to her blasts and then sort of just figuring out the moves to try and get to her and then being blasted out the window. So most, if not all of what you see, physically is there, but the fire is not. The fire element is the only thing we couldn't do, purely because actually, I would imagine given the nature of the prosthetic piece itself, that thing would've just gone up in flames. It would've just melted onto the skin. Not fun. Not even worth it.”
Vecna’s fiery defeat (or so it seems) wasn’t his only brush with the elements. A flashback in the finale shows Henry in the Upside Down after his first fight with Eleven – not quite Vecna yet, but still damaged from Eleven’s powers and the lighting that struck him in his descent. It’s yet another elaborate makeup look for Bower, one that shows Henry before he’s fully in Vecna mode, but still definitely damaged. Luckily, he thinks this look only took four or five hours to prepare – a relative breeze compared to the Vecna get-up.
“When Eleven blasts Henry into the Upside Down, there's this sort of electrocution that happens, this burning, melting of skin,” he says. “A lot of the wounds that you will see in that mode are based on the idea of melting of electricity and of fire itself, actually… But I really enjoyed that day particularly, because what I get to do in that scene is beyond cool.”
"When Eleven blasts Henry into the Upside Down, there's this sort of electrocution that happens, this burning, melting of skin.
As for where we left Vecna, he physically disappears after being shot out the window by Nancy. However, the show makes it pretty clear that we haven’t seen the last of him; at the very end, Will tells Mike that he can still feel him alive, suffering.
Bower remains mum on whether he’ll be back for Season 5, unsurprisingly. But he has kept an eye on the social media conversation around his character, and yes, has even seen some of the memes – including one that was born from a Netflix time lapse that has him in the Vecna suit, casually drinking an iced coffee, that the internet has taken and run with.
“I have seen it,” he laughs. “It's funny, you know – that was towards the end of shooting, and we'd obviously got into such a flow, and Vanity Fair has a video of earlier in the process [where] we're all kind of sat in silence, reading a book. And so, you know, it makes me laugh. People say that it humanizes me in an interesting way, and I'll take that. If it humanizes me, then absolutely fine, I'm cool with it.”