Major spoilers ahead for Stranger Things Season 4. No Hawkins character is as despised — and feared — as Vecna. (Though Jason comes at a close second.) Vecna massacred his family and the entire Hawkins Lab — and that was when he still had flesh. By the time Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) sent him to the Upside Down, he grew even more dangerous, creating the Mind Flayer and violently murdering at least three Hawkins high schoolers and some of the entire fandom’s most beloved characters. Though Eddie’s (Joseph Quinn) heartbreaking death was mostly a heroic sacrifice, that’s also on Vecna. Not to mention, sending Max (Sadie Sink) to the hospital with her fate TBD.
But there is one Stranger Things actor who feels for Hawkins’ resident evil. Jamie Campbell Bower, who plays Henry-slash-One-slash-Vecna, told Variety that “there was a lot of humanity” in the monster he plays. Explaining his take, the Twilight alum said, “[Vecna] grew up in an environment where his father murdered a civilian and a civilian family on the orders of people he never knew, who were presenting themselves as these upstanding citizens. In whose eyes are they upstanding? I’m still angry about it now.” (Bower’s take on Vecna and how he wasn’t inherently bad is similar to the Dungeons & Dragons character Vecna is named after — a once-human king who only later turns evil.)
Bower further explained what he thinks happened to Vecna after Eleven banished him to the Upside Down. “All he’s left with is this rage and resentment. She takes everything away from him — everything that he possibly could have had, is now gone because of her. That is enraging. It’s more than that — it’s hate-fueling,” he said.
Bower maintained that there’s “still a level of humanity” to Vecna “even where he is now” but that he’s consumed by these angry feelings. “Sometimes if we hold on to things for too long, they become consuming — really, really consuming.” It’s a state Bower says people can relate to.
Bower lived with Vecna’s deep resentment. In fact, he told Variety he even went method to “really tap into” it. “I wouldn’t speak to people,” Bower told the outlet in May. “I would find myself doing some pretty wild stuff. If anyone saw me walking around the streets of Atlanta at 2 o’clock in the morning talking to myself, they would understand. I was just bringing up a lot of anger, particularly for Vecna.” He would even sit for 30 minutes in costume in a “totally pitch black” room to internalize his character. Though it isn’t Bower’s first time playing a villain — he’s starred as a Volturi leader in Twilight and as Grindelwald in two Harry Potter films — he said that even he “started to become quite afraid of Vecna.”
So it’s not surprising that Bower has a soft spot for his deadly onscreen persona. “I understand him, and I love him. And I relate to him ... so I’m always gonna be on his side.”