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Stranger Things' Vecna make-up took 7 hours to apply every day

Prosthetics maestro Barrie Gower takes us behind-the-scenes of Jamie Campbell Bower’s new look.

Vecna in Stranger Things
Netflix
Published: Friday, 1st July 2022 at 7:00 am
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New Stranger Things baddie Vecna is an impressive specimen onscreen – but all that menace didn’t come easily, with actor Jamie Campbell Bower forced to sit through seven long hours of make-up and prosthetics application before he got close to popping any teens’ eyes with his mind.

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Recently, we caught up with prosthetics make-up designer Barrie Gower to find out how he and his team brought Vecna to life – and it’s fair to say that poor Jamie needed all those iced coffees.

“Everything was pre-painted. We glued everything on,” Gower told RadioTimes.com.

“We had to join all the dots up, and airbrush all the colours and everything, and make everything beautiful. We got his lenses in – his contact lenses.

“It was about an eight-and-a-half hour process, that first time with Jamie, from start to finish.”

Still, as the team got more used to the procedure they managed to cut the time down and come up with a few shortcuts – though it was still a pretty hefty wait for Bower.

“I think we got it down to about six hours and 20 odd minutes,” Gower said. “That was our record. But it averaged about seven hours, I think. Something like that.

“The actual application process, it was a well-orchestrated dance. It was the four of us, applying his makeup. And we would be doing this kind of dance around him. Somebody had to be at a certain place at a certain time.

“You’d always have someone holding a flap of rubber, and somebody there with glue, and literally as the hand went down, a hairdryer came in to blow solvents away.

“It just became this well-oiled thing that we would start with Jamie sitting in his chair. We’d start to get his head on. We’d stand him up. We’d get other pieces on. We’d lie him down on a massage table, and get his back on, and flip him over, and get his chest on, and stand him up, and get his legs on, and get his arms on.”

And as time went on, Vecna/Henry Creel himself began to learn the steps to this unusual quickstep – which was about five hours of prosthetic application, followed by a couple of hours of painting, airbrushing and applying “artwork” to the costume to make Vecna look just as terrifying as we saw him onscreen.

“After a while Jamie knew exactly where he needed to be at a certain time during the process, and he wouldn’t even ask us anymore,” Gower recalled.

“He’d have his head in a certain place. He’d have his arm up. He’d be climbing onto the massage table. We’d always be working around each other, but we managed to finetune it down.

“With applying rubber over somebody’s skin and all over their body, you see little landmarks as well – moles, little marks here and there – and you know, “Oh, that backpiece always sits an inch-and-a-half higher than that bit there.”

Altogether, Gower made it clear that this was a team effort – and he included Campbell Bower in that company.

“It was a marathon every day, but he was incredible,” Gower said. “We never once had a complaint from Jamie. And the chemistry in our team and with Jamie was second to none.

“I mean, thank God. It’s such a paramount thing when you’re doing a really extensive makeup application that everyone gets on real well.”

Who knew a schoolkid-crunching tentacle monster from the slime dimension had such a soft centre? Heartwarming stuff.

Stranger Things season 4 part 2 comes to Netflix on July 1st. Check out more of our Sci-Fi coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.

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