'Stranger Things' Cast's Genuine Terror Over Vecna Was 'Best Compliment'

The Duffer brothers deliberately made sure the cast did not meet Jamie Campbell Bower until the moment he stepped out on set of Stranger Things Season 4 as Vecna so that their terror was genuine, Barrie Gower told Newsweek.

Gower, who helped create the prosthetics for the villain with his team, said it was the "best compliment" to see how scared the cast got when they first encountered Campbell Bower in his full-body costume.

The look was made almost completely with practical effects and it took eight hours to apply the pieces to Campbell Bower every day.

'Stranger Things' Cast's Genuine Terror Over Vecna Was 'Best Compliment' for Makeup Effects Team

Stranger Things
Jamie Campbell Bower as Vecna in "Stranger Things" Season 4 Part 1, Barrie Gower who lead the team that created the prosthetics spoke to Newsweek about the process of making it. Netflix

Gower worked with Duncan Jarman and two others to bring Campbell Bower's look to life each day, and actors like Sadie Sink (who plays Max) and Natalia Dyer (who plays Nancy Wheeler) only met the actor when they had to face Vecna in their respective scenes with him in the Upside Down.

"There were some fantastic reactions and I think as a team, creating this character, it was almost the best compliment we could get were those sort of initial reactions," Gower told Newsweek. "I think it was an intentional thing for them, the showrunners, to hold back the cast [from] actually seeing Vecna for the first time.

"So, for example, the first time I think Sadie saw Jamie's makeup were those scenes in the Mind Lair with all the red light, and those reactions and responses that she had within there were very genuine.

"And there's a couple of other cast members a little bit later as well which, again, I think they're potentially using the first tapes that we shot with them because that was actual terror in their eyes, [it] really was the first time they met him.

"So for us it was great, for Jamie it was great, because he already knew he had this terrifying presence and I think, again, that's sort of testament to the whole fact that [the Duffer brothers] wanted this practical presence on set so it wouldn't have been a digitally created character in post production afterwards.

"So not necessarily a guy in a green suit or with ping pong balls on his head it's predominantly practical, the makeup [is] head to toe with visual effects adding some beautiful, subtle movements into the vines and getting rid of Jamie's nose and playing a little bit with his pupils and stuff."

The Duffer Brothers Had a Clear Vision for the Villain

Gower and his team joined Stranger Things specifically for Season 4, and the prosthetic makeup artist explained that Matt and Ross Duffer had a very clear vision for Vecna's look, which made it easier for the team to bring him to life.

As well as the Duffer brothers, Gower and his team referred to show concept artist Michael Mayer who'd also made designs that acted as blueprints for the final full-body suit they created for Campbell Bower.

"We knew from the get go he was gonna be humanoid in shape, and he was going to be the first human-shaped creature from the Upside Down," Gower said of the creative process behind the villain. "And they were very clear with that brief that they wanted something very practical that would have an on-set presence that could interact with the other cast [members].

"So, I think the overall design was drawing inspiration from all the the hues, the colors, and the shapes of all the vines and environments, and creatures, from the Upside Down, very organic shapes and forms, and it was encompassing that over the human form, basically."

Gower went on: "We were quite lucky that we had designs to work with as we joined the show, because you can spend weeks going around and trying to get answers and trying to get things approved. So we were very lucky.

"The final incarnation you see of Vecna in the show is very close to those original designs, we did tweak a little bit here and there... [there were] compromises we made to fit it over Jamie's body, but the essence is very true to those original designs."

Stranger Things
Stranger Things
Stranger Things
Barrie Gower applying the prosthetics for the Vecna costume on Jamie Campbell Bower for "Stranger Things" Season 4.

How Barrie Gower Helped Create Vecna

Gower made the prosthetics very much with Campbell Bower's performance in mind, because the actor needed to be able to move with ease to bring his terrifying portrayal to life.

Of the reasoning behind the costume they created, Gower shared: "It's full body prosthetic, so it's a slightly different approach to doing a lot of the '80s classics—a man in a rubber monster suit wearing what can be a pull on top and bottoms and a mask or what have you—because he had dialogue, there was a lot of interaction with the cast.

"We wanted a lot of freedom and a lot of movement when he'd be doing a lot of energetic movements and stunts, everything was Jamie as well we didn't have a stunt check or anything, it was all Jamie.

"But we wanted everything to move very realistically and fluidly so we didn't have a lot of buckling in the rubber and what have you."

Explaining the process of getting the actor into and out of the prosthetics each day, Gower went on: "Rather than being something he just pulled on, we created it so it's all overlapping prosthetic appliances, which were glued to the skin with a medical adhesive.

"It was about 20 to 25 different pieces of rubber over the head, shoulders, chest, back, so the procedure to get him into that makeup every day [...] our first initial makeup test was about eight, eight and a half hours to get him into that.

"Then we chiseled it down and down but there's only so much time we could chisel off the application time, we got it down to about six hours, 25 minutes or something in the end.

"But it averaged about seven hours every day, he'd come in and sit with us for seven hours [and there was] a team of four of us gluing everything on then he'd go onto set.

"We'd spend the day with him on set sort of doing maintenance, pushing bits of rubber back into place and making sure things weren't falling off.

"And then at the end of the shoot day we'd have about an hour and a half removing everything. At the end of the day you have to painstakingly use mineral oil and brushes to unpeel all the material of his skin."

Visually, Season 4 Part 2 Is 'Like Nothing on TV'

Gower also shared what fans can expect from Season 4 Part 2, which will be released on Friday, July 1, saying that the final two episodes are "like nothing we've seen on TV" before.

Though the prosthetics makeup artist and his team worked predominantly on Vecna in Volume 2, like in Part 1 which also saw them work on Victor Creel's horrifying look and Jim Hopper's (David Harbour) flashback scenes, Gower praised the visual effects artists working tirelessly to finish it.

"I think it's fair to say that Volume 2, visually, is going to be like nothing we've seen really on TV before because it's going to be monumental," Gower added.

"It will be totally cinematic really and, obviously, with the running times as well it's probably one of the longest episodes in television, you know, it's about two hours 20 minutes or so.

"So it's going to be an incredible finale, I think it's fair to say they're going out with a bang anyway with Volume 2."

Stranger Things Season 4 Volume 2 premieres on Netflix on Friday, July 1.