‘Stranger Things’ star Jamie Campbell Bower on career, imposter syndrome and what makes his character so terrifying

Picture: Yasmine Jacobs/IOL

Picture: Yasmine Jacobs/IOL

Published Sep 23, 2022


If you are a ‘Stranger Things’ fan, chances are you probably heard of Jamie Campbell Bower or have seen the internet fangirl over him (it’s me, I am the Internet.)

If you are not a “Stranger Things” fan, read above.

Please note that from this point, there are “Stranger Things” spoilers. You have been warned.

While Bower had done successful roles in the past, it is Bower’s role as Vecna that really put him on the map.

Speaking at a guest spotlight session at Comic Con Africa held at the Johannesburg Expo Centre, Bower spoke about his early career, the dreaded feeling of imposter syndrome and Ian McKellen being one of his inspirations: “When I was in ‘The Prisoner’ that I filmed in Cape Town and was with Ian McKellen. He is an amazing artist and an amazing actor and a wonderful person and showed me how to work.”

He explained further: “I was 19 at the time and just started working. He taught, and this goes for everyone, that to make something really good, you have to be part of the team and that has always stayed with me.”

On the topic of previously being in South Africa, Bower briefly spoke about jet lag. He travelled from London so his body and mind must still sort of be in London...right? Wrong.

“My body is here. My mind is here. My soul is here,” he said as the crowd erupted in cheers. He added that he is feeling a bit of jet lag, but is 100% in South Africa.

He said that career is something that always has ups and downs and said that the feeling of imposter syndrome makes him want to be the best he can be at all times.

“A career goes like this,” he said as he waved his hand in a fluctuating motion, “so I am always trying to be the best I can be as an actor.” He added that once you find something you love, you stick to it and don’t back down.

On music career, he said: “I think I always knew that I wanted to do entertainment. I would do shows and silly little performances in the living room. I always had an inclination to perform because its where I found myself and where I found comfortable, after all.”

On to “Stranger Things”, Bower explained why Vecna and Henry Creel was so terrifying - and the answer might surprise you.

“It’s because he is human. He has his own experiences and he has own intention and that intention is very very real. When you are dealing with something both as an actor and character, the fear is tenfold. Humans by their very nature is not the easiest to breed and that is quite terrifying alone. That and his squelching noises.”

He revealed Vecna/Henry Creel was the most challenging.

“When you get a script like that, it makes me as an actor really want to give every single part of my being and Henry has such an interesting journey throughout the show. What you are doing (as an actor) is reading words off a page, they have an intention, they have their own meaning. The things that he is saying, yes they are coming from experience, but beneath that at all times is the burning fire and burning rage,” he said.

Bower noted that he never saw Vecna/Henry as a character that is bad or a villain, saying that he was a product of his environment. He explained that he loves playing the villain.

“I find that the villain character or the character in contention has a lot of depth to them, they have a lot of history and I find that to be fascinating.

“I also find that writers get to express themselves very freely with villain characters and they put a lot of personal trauma into those characters, so they have a lot of truth to it,” he said.

He went on to explain how he fully immerses himself in the role and said that when he put on the suit for Vecna, he felt like he was him (of course, he won’t be murdering a bunch of kids, we hope). He used cosplay as an example of immersing yourself and ‘becoming’ the character.

His final message to an audience that was already completely in love with him, was to always be your authentic self.

If you ask me, that is great advice for a crowd of people who rocked up this weekend in the fantastic cosplays and for those who might have been picked on for being interested in certain things.