Stranger and stranger! Fascinating time-lapse captures Stranger Things star Jamie Campbell Bower’s SEVEN-HOUR transformation into monster Vecna – as makeup artist reveals villain was inspired by Game of Thrones
- WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
- Makeup designer and visual effects artist Barrie Gower previously worked on HBO’s Game of Thrones and Chernobyl
- Gower’s team had to create a full body mold of actor Campbell Bower, 33, in order to create the fake flesh of the supernatural serial killer
- Campbell Bower required more than seven and a half hours of makeup and prosthetics to transform into the Netflix villain
- The Vecna costume was ‘90% practical’, with the show did using some animation effects to creating moving vines on the villain’s body
- The first seven episodes of Season 4 debuted on May 27, with Volume 2 comprised of two episodes, which are much longer than usual episodes
- The eighth episode will run one hour and 25 minutes while the ninth episode will run nearly two and a half hours
Stranger Things’ fourth season has brought with it many twists, turns, and plotline surprises – as well as the show’s most sinister villain yet: terrifying hell demon, Vecna, played by British actor Jamie Campbell Bower.
Now, as viewers await the final two instalments of the series’ latest season, the special effects makeup artist who created Vecna’s terrifying visage has opened up about how he and his team transformed 33-year-old Campbell Bower from a fresh-faced actor into a horrifying specter of evil.
Celebrated makeup and visual effects artist Barrie Gower shared the inspiration behind Vecna in a new video interview with Vanity Fair, in which he also detailed the painstaking process for bringing directing duo the Duffer brothers’ vision to life.
Despite the show employing the very latest in CGI and digital effects, when it came to Vecna, it relied on more traditional special FX techniques – with Campbell Bower stunning fans when he revealed that he’d had to spend more than seven hours transforming into the terrifying monster every day on set.
The real deal: The complicated method used to create Stranger Things’ villain Vecna to life has been revealed. Jamie Campbell Bower (left) as the supernatural killer
Piece by piece: There were around 25 overlapping prosthetics placed onto Campbell Bower every morning before filming
Lengthy process: The costume was ‘90% practical’ with additional animation used to create moving vines on the skin
That process has now been documented in a fascinating Netflix time-lapse video revealing a sneak peek into the lengthy and arduous techniques used to transform Campbell Bower into Vecna.
In the video, Campbell Bower is seen sitting in a makeup chair for hours on end, while a team of artists carefully applies the pre-made prosthetics to his face, arms, and body.
But according to Gower, the arduous process of bringing Vecna to life for the small screen began long before the actor began his transformation.
Speaking to Vanity Fair, the Emmy-winning prosthetic artist revealed that Stranger Things producers, brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, approached him to create their season four villain after seeing the work that he and his team had done on Game of Thrones – particularly with the HBO series’ evil demon, The Night King.
He added that the Duffer Brothers had also been impressed by the radiation-burns Gower et al had created for HBO’s Chernobyl and wanted to use those elements for their own ‘iconic’ villain.
Trooper: VFX artist Barrie Gower praised Campbell Bower for never complaining about the lengthy process
Attention to detail: Campbell Bower took the chance to listen to music that helped inspire his character while in the makeup trailer
Daily routine: Small holes were created in the ears so the actor could actually hear through the costume
After concept art was drawn up by artist Michael Mayer, who also runs the VFX department, the Duffer Brothers and Gower settled on their final vision for Vecna – and the special effects artists set about turning that image into a living, breathing monster.
Gower recalled: ‘We were sent those designs and then we took a full body live cast of the actor Jamie Campbell Bower.
‘From that point we had quite a large extensive build to actually create the character which we started with a full body live cast made out of plaster of Paris.’
The team then did a process called ‘floating’, in which the plaster cast of Campbell Bower was submerged in a tank and painted with a soap product, before they sculpted on the Vecna detail in wax modelling clay.
The next stage was to separate the sculpture from the modeling clay, which involved sinking the entire cast into water overnight.
Patient: Campbell Bower required more than seven and a half hours of makeup and prosthetics to transform into the Netflix villain
First draft: Concept art (seen) created by artist Michael Mayer, who also runs the VFX department, was used as the inspiration for Vecna
Impactful: Gower’s team was then tasked with bringing the idea to life – using a full body live cast of Campbell Bower as their base
Long process: The plaster cast of Campbell Bower was painted with a soap product before they sculpted on the Vecna detail in wax modelling clay
Separation: The team then did a process called ‘floating’ to separate the sculpture, which involved sinking the entire cast into water overnight
Gower explained that the process allowed the water to reactivate the soapy product so the plasticine could ‘float off’ and then be carefully removed from the cast in sections.
Iconic: Stranger Things producers, Matt and Ross Duffer, had approached Gower with the aim of creating their own version Game of Thrones bad guy, The Night King
There were around 25 overlapping prosthetics to create the entire character, which had been injected with materials like silicone foam latex.
It was decided that they would use full body makeup rather than creating a pullover suit in order to ensure the actor’s movement’s while filming wouldn’t creating a bulking effect as the costume bunched up.
In order to do this, they used silicon medical gel to create the prosthetics because it is soft enough to allow for movement and stretch while being worn by an actor.
The Vecna costume also saw Campbell Bower wearing foam latex prosthetic finger extensions on his left hand, which had been causing staff’s hands to cramp after reveal minutes.
Unrecognizable: Gower joked, ‘There wasn’t anything else we could get on Jamie’
Creepy: The team worked on several gruesome looks for the popular series
Master of his craft: Gower previously worked on HBO’s Game of Thrones and Chernobyl
However, Gower gushed over the fact Campbell Bower never complained about the pain or the length of time it took to glue on his costume each day.
The actor also wore dentures over his own teeth in order to create the rotted look seen on Vecna, as well as wearing full scleral contact lenses.
‘There wasn’t anything else we could get on Jamie,’ Gower joked.
While the Vecna costume was ’90 per cent practical’, the show did utilize some animation effects in order to creating moving vines on the villain’s body.
Aiming high: The Duffer Brothers were set on creating their own iconic villain for the series
Starring role: Campbell Bower pictured with Millie Bobby Brown in Stranger Things
As for Vecna skin tone, the show has a special makeup pallet designed by Premier Product which used a set of colors inspired by different sea life and human bruising.
The first seven episodes of Stranger Things season four debuted on May 27, and Volume 2 of the series is set to premiere on July 1 – with fans being treated to two feature-length episodes to round out the latest season.
The eighth episode will run one hour and 25 minutes while the ninth episode will run nearly two and a half hours.
Fans of the series will no doubt be hoping that the final episodes reveal Vecna’s ultimate demise – having seen in the most recently-released Volume 1 episodes how Campbell Bower’s human character transformed into the monster after being cast into the Upside Down by Millie Bobby Brown’s character Eleven.