Jamie Campbell Bower has just gotten back from Marrakesh, where he found himself in the middle of a medina, expertly negotiating the price of a few rugs he wanted to whisk back home.
“Being British, I’m obviously very unsure about how to haggle, but for some reason, all this confidence came out,” the actor says delightedly over Zoom. Honestly, he says, he doesn’t know where it came from. He compares it to the last time he tried to haggle at the Rose Bowl flea market in Pasadena: “The guy was like, $160, and I was like, $190! He was like, Yeah, all right, then.” Bower bursts out laughing.
Maybe he’s just gotten better at getting what he wants—or maybe he’s channeling the villainous Vecna, his character on Stranger Things. Vecna crawls into the minds of the people of Hawkins, feasting on their trauma, filling their heads with nightmarish images and breaking their bones to help the Mind Flayer take over the world. At the end of the show’s fourth season, Vecna nearly achieves this feat, killing a few key characters (R.I.P. Eddie Munson) before he’s stopped by Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). But Vecna narrowly escapes death, laying the groundwork for an apocalyptic fifth (and final) season of the staggeringly popular Netflix series, which was recently nominated for a slew of Emmys.
Now that all season four’s secrets are out, Bower, who delivers another excellent performance as Vecna, is approaching a blissful state. “I feel fine and good and confident and like there’s nothing more to worry about—apart from what’s next,” he says.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, the actor talks candidly about the explosive success of season four, why he doesn’t regret Vecna nearly killing Max, and the internet’s obsession with his friendship with castmate Joe Quinn.
Vanity Fair: How do you feel now that Stranger Things season four is fully out?
Jamie Campbell Bower: It’s been a real journey. It all feels a bit like a blur. There was this immediate verbal diarrhea that came out of me when the show came out because I hadn’t been able to talk about anything for some time. It felt lovely. Then came this [feeling of], “I’m losing my mind.” I need to settle and make sure that I’m grounded enough, ‘cause I feel like I’m on fire and my head’s going to pop off. So then came a load of meditation and centering myself. Then it sort of became normal.
One of the things that I’ve really loved is seeing the reach of the show. Like, our local baristas at Starbucks, they just love the show. Or we’ll be stopped at a red light and somebody will wind their window down and go, “Awesome work!” That’s really cute.
Do the baristas ever write “Vecna” on your cup?
No! But I’ll ask them to now. I do order the beverage I’m drinking in that meme going around. [Laughs.] Why do I feel so much shame around that!
I love all the memes of Vecna hanging out on set! Is it weird to see the pictures circulating?
It’s fine. It’s lovely. You can’t stop the internet. The internet is a hive mind in and of itself, so you just have to release control at a certain point and just go, “Do what you need to do. You’ll calm down in a minute.”