Exclusively with HL, makeup artist for “Stranger Things” Barrie Gower discussed the stunning Vecna metamorphosis and working with one of his “heroes” in season 4.
The massive Vecna unveiling lived up to supporters’ high expectations. Vecna was revealed to be none other than Henry Creel, also known as One, played by Jamie Campbell Bower in Stranger Things season 4 volume 1’s penultimate episode. Vecna wasn’t entirely a CGI creation, it turns out. With Jamie changing into the Stranger Things monster whenever he wanted to appear on screen, this enemy was entirely genuine. Barrie Gower, a prosthetic makeup artist, talked EXCLUSIVELY with HollywoodLife about Jamie’s remarkable metamorphosis.
“Usually, you would also have a stunt Vecna while playing a role like this. The actor would play a few headshots and other little roles here and there, while a double with a similar physique would take on the remainder of the role and do all the stunts. Jamie did everything, according to Barrie. “He performed every trick as well. Vecna was entirely Jamie for everything you saw her doing in Stranger Things. We spent around 20 to 25 days shooting with him.
He was the subject of two cosmetic trials, and we applied makeup every day. Every day there is a brand-new collection of appliances. He is completely covered with prosthesis. There are around 24 to 25 separate appliances, some of which overlap. Using a medical adhesive, everything is attached to the skin. It is constructed of silicone rubber, and we also have lighter foam latex pieces that are used in other areas of the product.
Duncan Jarman, Mike Mekash, Eric Garcia, and Nix Herrera were on Barrie’s squad. Each time, they assisted him in completing Jamie’s approximately 7-hour transformation into Vecna. Barrie acknowledged that it took 8 and a half hours to glue Jamie into Vecna during the first cosmetic treatment they performed on him. “You may begin to whittle that time down the more often you apply cosmetics. You will often do a very elaborate prosthetic makeup, such as head and shoulders, day in and day out if necessary.
You may adjust it and cut the makeup application time by around an hour or so if it takes three or four hours. With Vecna, however, due to the lengthy shooting schedule, we may begin at about 2 or 3 a.m., and by the time we finished shooting for the day and wrapped, it would take about an hour and a half to remove his makeup. We may finish by 10 or 11 p.m. We often shot day in and day out, so we didn’t interfere with anyone’s turnaround. The next day, we could simply relax.
We were quite fortunate to deal with Jamie, who I believe may have previously performed some prosthetic work, he said. They had a five-person squad. Jamie and I were there. He collaborated with us so easily that I believe we finally managed to cut the makeup application down to roughly 6 hours 21 [minutes]. Our track record was that.
We removed a few hours, but it eventually down to just the four of us and Jamie doing this choreographed dance. You would start by seating him down, put the ballcap on him, begin to put the pieces on, stand him up, and add a few more. We used to lay him down on a massage table to get his back on, turn him over to get his front on, stand him up, get his legs on, and get his arms on. Jamie had it down to a science; he knew just where to place his head, when to elevate his arm, when to lie down, and when to do this.
We almost stopped communicating with him and telling him what we needed to do next. In order to avoid wasting time, we made a note of where we needed to be by what time. We were able to finish on time and never go beyond any scheduled days.
Jamie put a lot of effort into adopting Vecna’s perspective while going through the shift. In the cosmetics trailer, different genres of music would be playing. Thrash metal would dominate the beginning of our set. There would be a lot of death metal and heavy metal playing. Towards the conclusion of the application, it could get a little bit lighter.
We’d conclude with Marilyn Manson or something like. We would play podcasts. We would see documentaries. He would be viewing scary movies. He would be looking at seances on YouTube. All of the supernatural elements would be examined, which would help us all get into character. However, it was usually quite jovial.
Jamie never “complained once,” according to Barrie, about the laborious makeup procedure. The head and shoulders in particular weighed in at between 6 and 8 kg when combined to build Vecna. Then it has a whole silicone back and breast, along with foam rubber for this, that, and the other. He was carrying around an awful deal of weight every day.
Jamie’s artificial left hand “moved and articulated precisely with Jamie’s hand” when he was using it. To ensure that this seemed cohesive, Jamie and the visual effects team collaborated with Barrie’s team. “He never voiced a complaint to us. He was really a hero, Barrie said.
The prosthetic makeup artist, who has worked on programs including Game of Thrones and Chernobyl, said that taking the prosthetics off was “far faster.” Everyone involved agreed that it was “still a fairly long procedure.” You cannot just take off this material since it is attached to the skin with a medical glue, according to Barrie.
“You can’t simply pull it off like in Mrs. Doubtfire, however. In the past, actors and stunt performers have come in and attempted to remove their own prosthetics. We must meticulously remove everything with a mineral oil since it might eliminate the top layer of skin with it. Each evening, it took the four of us the better part of an hour and a half to get Jamie out. But in the evening, it was a very happy procedure. We would be playing some pretty lively music and serving snacks and goodies. We would be having fun since tomorrow is a day off. There was never a bad procedure.
Along with creating the prosthetics for Vecna, Barrie and his team also created the scarred-eyed Victor Creel played by Robert Englund. For Barrie, who is a huge Freddy Krueger fan, working with Robert was a “career-high.”
“We spent about two hours applying his makeup while he was in the makeup chair. He just kept regaling us with tales and anecdotes from the Nightmare on Elm Street films and the other makeup artists he’s collaborated with over the years, according to Barrie, who spoke to HollywoodLife. “He simply had the most amazing stories. Never meet your heroes, they say, but this was amazing. He was an amazing delight to deal with, and we were always trying to coax more tales out of him.
David Harbour, who portrays Hopper, had some prosthetic work from Barrie in addition to Robert. “Obviously, this Russian jail is where the fourth season of Hopper’s tale takes place, and David lost a ton of weight.
When they flashed back to the conclusion of season 3, Hopper’s character was more fuller in the face and much heavier than he seemed to be for his narrative in the Russian jail, according to Barrie. “David is in a fat makeup for those photos, which were in direct continuity with the third season finale. We covered his whole face down to his collar and just rounded off his jaw and cheeks. He seemed to have some stubble since we had to add it to the equipment. His mustache was a fake one.
We performed his makeup with him for around two and a half hours. It was almost more difficult than performing Vecna since you had to conceal the makeup on his face invisibly. You could not hide anywhere.
The much anticipated Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon is Barrie’s next project. Season 4 Volume 1 of Stranger Things is now available. On July 1, Volume 2 will be made available on Netflix.