Matt and Ross Duffer, the two brothers behind the hit Netflix series Stranger Things, aren’t shy about their influences. The whole show is basically an homage to the ’80s movies they loved as kids, from The Goonies to HAS Nightmare on Elm Street. And they’re influenced by more modern media, too. For instance, they took to calling the recently released fourth season their “Game Of Thrones season” on account of how characters were spread all over the map following their own story threads.
And then there was Vecna, a new villain who hunts down Hawkins teenagers from beyond the veil of reality in the Upside Down. Vecna’s murderous MO is clearly a nod to Freddy Krueger — Robert Englund, who played Freddy in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, has a walk-on role — but his look reminded a lot of people of the Night King from Game Of Thrones.
It ends up we weren’t imagining things. As prosthetics makeup designer Barrie Gower told CinemaBlendhis work on Game Of Thrones was part of what attracted the Duffer Brothers to him. “The Duffers had seen our work on Game Of Thrones, and they really loved the Night King. They also loved our work on the HBO show Chernobyl with all the radiation burns, and I think they almost wanted a combination of two, in a way,” he said. “Realizing that they needed to design a character – a new villain, a new presence for Stranger Things 4, which would be quite an iconic villain – being fans of the Night King for Game of Thrones, I think they were thinking, ‘Well, why not? Let’s approach the guys who made the Night King.’ I think that’s partly how we kind of got the gig, so we were very fortunate for that.”
I think it’s also just natural that many of our artists who worked on Game Of Thrones got to work on Vecna as well. So there’s probably traits of their design skills and their approaches and just their styles in the sculpture and styles in the painting that you can probably see references between between the Night King and Vecna in a way, because it’s been designed and created by the same people . So I think that’s probably why there’s a little bit of a relationship there.
The Night King quickly became an iconic TV villain, and Vecna seems well on his way. I wanna see the two face off in a cosplay contest sometime.
Who’s under all those prosthetics on Stranger Things? It’s English actor Jamie Campbell Bower, who actually plays a dual role of sorts. (Don’t read further if you want to avoid SPOILERS.)
So that’s Campbell Bower beneath all that Vecna makeup. But the actor also plays the role of the orderly in Eleven’s flashback scenes. The orderly, we later learn, is actually One, the first unwilling subject in Dr. Brenner’s inhuman psychic child experiments. He and a young Eleven face each other down, and Eleven blasts him into the Upside Down where he becomes the grotesque Vecna.
Vecna will be back for the final two episodes of Stranger Things season 4, which drops on Netflix on July 1.