How Jamie Campbell Bower Got in Deep with His “Stranger Things” Character
When Jamie Campbell Bower got offered a role in Stranger Things Season 4, Volume 1, he wasn’t sure what to expect. Of course, Bower’s character wasn’t particularly singular throughout the season to begin with. Whether he’s playing Peter Ballard, Henry Creel, One, or Vecna, Bower had to dig deep to find what made this big, mysterious antagonist tick. You might also recognize Bower as a young Gellert Grindelwald in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Caius from The Twilight Saga.
We come into a new chapter of Stranger Things to find that Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton), and Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) have moved to Lenora Hills, California. The rest of the gang has remained in Hawkins, Indiana, and the aftermath of the disaster at Starcourt Mall has yet to completely settle. But as mysterious and gratuitous deaths begin to plague Hawkins, the group has to find a way to destroy their new foe: Vecna.
Enter Jamie Campbell Bower. When he auditioned for the role, he didn’t have so much of a script to read from. The character was being kept under lock and key, but after he auditioned and spoke with the Duffer brothers, creators of one of Netflix’s biggest shows, he landed the role and finally found out who he was playing. “And then came more chaos,” Bower joked in an interview with Variety.
To get into the character of Peter/Henry, Bower says there was a lot of emotional and psychological preparation. Bower says the key to his time on Stranger Things was understanding the immense manipulation tactics Henry used against Eleven. Vecna, on the other hand, was different. To physically become Vecna, Bower had to sit for seven and a half hours to apply the full-body prosthetics and then film for 10–12 hours a day. Ironically, Bower says he used music while sitting in makeup to help get his mind ready to play the villain.
I came in in character, wearing the character, so I’m sitting in the makeup chair very still, not really talking to anyone. Music is a big help for me. I find it to be a very visceral experience. I had a few records that I was just constantly spinning on repeat as I’d been building the character I’d had on anyway, so there was that, sort of, subconsciousness that was coming through.
Bower told Entertainment Weekly that even Vecna’s deep voice was his own on top of the practical effects and prosthetics.
I was in ADR [automated diolague replacement] for the show a couple of weeks ago, and the engineer was like, ‘I’ve got this octave [voice distorter] for you.’ I was like, ‘Oh, no, we don’t use that.’ He was like, ‘What do you mean?’ And I was like, ‘It’s all me.’ He was like, ‘Yeah, whatever. Go on.’ And so I did it, and he was like, ‘Right. Yep. I’ve canceled the octave of that. It’s off now.’
Despite the initial introduction of Bower to the series as “friendly orderly,” his character is arguably one of the most important to the franchise so far. The twist that brought Volume 1 of Season 4 to an end was enough to give viewers one heck of a shock. Not only does Peter turn out to be, like, three other people, but he’s also the one solely responsible for the death of the multiple Rainbow Room children at Hawkins National Laboratory in the first episode, which redeems Eleven as the assumed killer. Bower describes the relationship between One and Eleven and the mythology of these characters in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
There was always this knowledge of the world. But I’ll tell you how deep I got: I got so deep that the fact that Millie is 011 and I’m 001 […] in Greek, one and 11 are Alpha and Omega, which is light and dark.
Whether this Alpha and Omega relationship was a purposeful decision from the Duffer brothers, Bower won’t say, only deepening our curiosity for the next chapter of the Stranger Things story. Volume 2 of Season 4 will be released on Netflix on July 1.