Warning: Spoilers for Season 4, Volume 2 of Stranger Things follow. If you don’t want it spoiled, stop right here.
Jamie Campbell Bower was such a convincing villain in his Vecna suit — which took seven hours to put on in the makeup chair — that he actually made Millie Bobby Brown cry real tears of fright while filming one of the scenes in Season 4 of Stranger Things.
Bower spilled the details in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday, and it’s pretty juicy. But first, if you need a quick refresher on Bower’s character, he actually has three different roles — and we learned about another, fourth role that Vecna has secretly been playing the whole time in the last episode.
First of all, he plays Vecna: the slimy, nasty villain who breaks people’s limbs and gouges their eyes out. Vecna who was banished to the Upside Down when Eleven attempted to kill him after he massacred all of Dr. Brenner’s (Matthew Modine) other test subjects at Hawkins Lab. And that brings us to Bower’s other character — 001, Dr. Brenner’s very first human lab rat. But before he was 001 or Vecna, he was Henry Creel, the spider-loving little boy who caused his father, Victor Creel, to go to prison for the murder of Henry’s mother and sister. Of course, it was really Henry who did those murders, and he continued that signature killing style as Vecna.
But Bower’s secret fourth role is more of a figurative one than a literal one. We learned in the final episode that Vecna has been controlling the Mind Flayer since Season 1, and that every time Will Byers feels that slithery, Voldemort-style feeling on the back of his neck that lets him know what the Mind Flayer is up to, he’s really hearing the dastardly thoughts of Vecna. To be clear, Bower just joined the cast in Season 4, so the revelation that Vecna was really the Mind Flayer the whole time just puts everything in context.
Okay! Now that that’s all covered, on to the juicy part — Bower’s terrifying effect on his scene partner, Millie Bobby Brown.
“The stuff at the Snow Ball is at Hawkins, at the high school. And then the stuff in the Mind Lair was on set in Atlanta. The reaction that you see from Millie in episode nine when she’s strung up, that’s genuine and honest,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.
You know, the part where Eleven is crying and trying to get out of Vecna’s tentacle clutches in the last episode of Season 4? Yeah, Bower says Brown was crying real tears during that scene.
“She was terrified and freaked out. And Caleb [Heymann], our DP, was very smart and saw that she was having this reaction in the beginning of rehearsal and decided to shoot her first. It’s so pure and beautiful,” Bower said.
“It was lovely to have this battle, this epic battle as it were, but it’s drawn out. It’s so much more elongated than it is in the Volume 1 finale. There is this back and forth of power-sharing. And each actor has their own way of being their own character.”
The Season 4 finale left off with Vecna wounded but not dead; Eleven reunited with Hopper; Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn) dead; Max Mayfield (Sadie Sink) in a coma; Hawkins mostly destroyed, and particles from the Upside Down snowing all over the town, setting up what the gang will be up against next season when they presumably try to kill Vecna once and for all. But we’ll have to wait until the fifth and final season comes out to find out how this story truly ends.
Volumes 1 and 2 of Season 4 of Stranger Things are now streaming on Netflix.
Main Image: Jamie Campbell Bower as Vecna in Stranger Things, courtesy of Netflix.