The Untold Truth Of Jamie Campbell Bower

Jamie Campbell Bower is no stranger to darkness. Across his many projects — on television and in films, singing in musicals and in concerts — the rising star occupies a strange sort of spooky space in pop culture, cemented even further thanks to his villainous turn as Vecna on Netflix's smash-hit show "Stranger Things." But Bower doesn't think that's a bad thing. "Often, when people hear the word darkness, they are very afraid of it," he told Vulture. "They consider it to be evil, but I don't. I think that they are necessary parts of all of us that dwell inside of every single person."

Fans who first came to know and love Bower thanks to his role on "Stranger Things" may not be aware of just how many parts dwell inside the star. Though he is now in his 30s, Bower has been steadily working since he was a teenager, building an impressive resume alongside some of the industry's biggest names in some of entertainment history's most massive franchises. New followers digging into his past may be surprised to learn that he seems to have always been there, lurking in the shadows, even as he now steps out into the spotlight. This, then, is the untold truth of Jamie Campbell Bower.

He auditioned to play Harry Potter

Jamie Campbell Bower would go on to star in multiple films set in J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World, but his very first acting audition was for a magical role he didn't book. Back when he was still a child, Bower tried his hand at nabbing the part of a lifetime: Harry Potter himself. 

"A casting agent came to school," he later remembered while speaking with Interview Magazine. "We had to tell a joke, I told a really rude joke. I told a joke about a Christmas tree being rammed up a fairy's a**." It may not have been the best idea, because he didn't get the role. "They laughed, yeah," he clarified, "but I don't think that was quite 'Harry Potter' material." However, he noted that he wasn't too upset about having missed out on the fame and riches that would have come for him earlier. "I wasn't devastated. I was too into skateboarding," he joked. "I'm still too into skateboarding to be devastated by anything."

The opportunity to try his hand at acting, though, seems to have awoken something in him. "My parents obviously realized I had this wish to be a performer, so they nurtured that side of me," he told the Evening Standard. "I joined the local youth theatre and got very heavily involved." He didn't become a child star as "Harry Potter," but fame and fortune would soon find him anyway.

He loves to skateboard

Jamie Campbell Bower is a lot of things: actor, singer, model, and... skateboarder? Before his career really took off, Bower frequently tweeted about his love of skating. He once wrote that if he were ever to become homeless, all he'd need would be his skateboard. He frequently shares photos of his skateboard on Twitter, documenting his therapeutic "morning skate" sessions amid the graffitied underpasses of London's South Bank skatepark. Once, he even wrote, "whilst skating at southbank earlier I leant against some new graff for a rest. I'm sorry to the artist and my back." He's shared with fans that he once showed off his skills alongside a "sick BMX dude" for a bunch of kids at the skatepark, and he's even tweeted snaps of injuries sustained while skating.

Though Bower's tweets about skateboarding have slowed down as his star has risen, the actor hasn't forgotten his love of the sport. He told Interview Magazine, "I'd love to make a skating movie. It'd be f***ing dope." However, he noted, sports movies like skateboarding ones are often difficult to pull off; he shouted out director Catherine Hardwicke's "Lords of Dogtown" as his favorite film in the subgenre. The film co-starred Nikki Reed, with whom Bower would act alongside in several "Twilight" films.

He struggled on Sweeney Todd

Many film fans first came to know Jamie Campbell Bower through his breakout role in Tim Burton's 2007 musical "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street." At only 19 years old, Bower played Anthony, the dashing young sailor who falls in love with the barber's daughter, Lucy. 

"I was so high on the adrenaline," he told the Evening Standard, explaining that he was still in school when he got the part and would often have to return to his dorm after a night of filming. "As a first gig you can't go wrong. Johnny Depp and Tim Burton as a team are one of the reasons I love cinema," he gushed.

However, apparently his first day on set didn't go well. The very first thing Bower had to do was record the film's songs, and he found himself plucked from obscurity and suddenly having to sing in front of legendary faces like Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Burton himself. "I didn't perform very well that day. It was very daunting. In fact, I think I was the worst," he confessed to the Observer. Thankfully, Bower was able to shake his nerves, and his performance went on to be well-received by fans. Years later, one follower wrote on Twitter about his exploding popularity, "I think it's funny how everyone is now a fan of Jamie Campbell Bower when the real OGs know him from 'Sweeney Todd.'"

Sir Ian McKellen mentored him

In the early years of his filmmaking career, Jamie Campbell Bower worked with some of the best in the biz. His very first film role was "Sweeney Todd," under the direction of Tim Burton, and he starred alongside industry vets like Helena Bonham Carter and Alan Rickman. He followed it up with "RocknRolla," a Guy Ritchie movie co-starring Gerard Butler and Idris Elba, and then he acted in a remake of "The Prisoner," where he met a man who would become a mentor: Sir Ian McKellen.

Bower interviewed McKellan for a behind-the-scenes "Production Diaries" bonus feature, and McKellen teased his younger co-star. "don't mind working," he said. "I mean, I know you like to be off surfing, and doing whatever you do." Bower agreed amiably, "I don't like to work!"

"He did take me under his wing a little bit," Bower reflected later, while speaking with the Evening Standard. He described the two as close friends. "He taught me how to be myself and how to be a gentleman ... He was a shining light and kept us sane.'

He got engaged to a co-star

Fans who fell in love with Jamie Campbell Bower thanks to his "Stranger Things" role — no, seriously; the Vecna thirst is real — might not be aware of the star's romantic past. Namely, the fact that he once fell in love with a co-star! After meeting on the set of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," Bower began a relationship with Bonnie Wright, who played Ginny Weasley in the magical franchise. They confirmed their relationship in early 2010, when OK! Magazine spotted them kissing on a movie date. "Yes, we're dating," Wright admitted. "We've been seeing each other for a few months, it's good."

It seems that Wright helped Bower keep his life on track off-set; he told Teen Vogue that she was always making sure he focused on his hygiene when they weren't filming together. "Bonnie is always yelling at me to fold my jeans or to put the toilet seat down again," he recalled.

Within a few years, it seemed that marriage and happily-ever-after were in the cards. Bower confirmed their engagement to The Daily (via Marie Claire UK), gushing, "I'm very happy. It's a wonderful, wonderful time." Unfortunately, though, wedded bliss was not to follow after all. Us Weekly announced that the couple had split in 2012. "It was amicable," an insider told the tabloid, "but things had not been going right for some time. It's sad."

He was in a punk band

Jamie Campbell Bower isn't just an acting star of stage and screen; he's also a musician! Bower fronted punk band COUNTERFEIT. for several years, alongside his brother as well as several friends. Their debut album, "Together We Are Stronger," was released in 2017. "Everything we do is natural," he explained to Max Baker Official. "What we're about is community, and growth through community." The band toured Europe and the USA, and Bower was proud of the fanbase they were able to cultivate. "What we always seem to find ... is the people that are coming to see the shows are so f***ing lovely," he said. "The people are there just to cut loose and have a good time."

Unfortunately, Bower's band was not to last. They went their separate ways in 2020, before the release of their sophomore album, and Bower announced the news in a since-deleted Instagram post (via Kerrang). It seems COUNTERFEIT. was not able to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, like many creative projects. "During lockdown and COVID I received a number of phone calls from members of the band who stated that they no longer wish to participate in either this project or live music in general," Bower wrote. "As such I have come to the decision that it is time to lay Counterfeit to rest."

He's now a solo musician

Though Jamie Campbell Bower's band COUNTERFEIT. broke up during the COVID-19 pandemic, the actor has continued to release music as a solo artist. He announced that he would be embarking on a music career by himself in the very same post where he revealed the dissolution of his band, writing (via Kerrang), "From the ashes we must rise which is why I am delighted to tell you that I will be continuing to make music and tour the world for and with you all." 

So far, Bower has been enjoying the project. "Not being constrained to have to think about writing for a 'rock band' as it were has been really freeing," he told Schön! Magazine. "I feel like I can explore as much as I want to now."

Smartly, Bower has used the increased attention he's garnered thanks to his "Stranger Things" role to also promote his music career. His single "Run On" was released the same day as the first volume of "Stranger Things" Season 4, and, as of press time, the music video has more views than most of COUNTERFEIT.'s ever did. While appearing on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," Bower talked about his music, teasing the release of the solo single "I Am." He gushed, "I'm so excited. Everything feels just... not real right now."

He was in a Florence and the Machine music video

Jamie Campbell Bower's dual loves, music and acting, came together in 2011 when he got the opportunity to star in a music video for "Never Let Me Go," a single from Florence and the Machine's critically-acclaimed album "Ceremonials." The music video sees a particularly emo-looking Bower meeting lead singer Florence Welch at an ice rink after-hours, where they twirl and slide around the slippery rink together... until Welch collapses into a puddle of goop. Art!

In a behind the scenes video, Welch revealed that she and Bower have known each other for a while, as they ran in some of the same circles. She described Bower's character as "a scary boy... is he friendly or is he evil? You just don't know." Bower joked that his character was known on set as "the ice dude," adding, "I have to be myself: creepy. Completely and utterly creepy, all day." That would wind up being an aspect of his personality that would serve him well in his career.

He's a Miley Cyrus stan

Jamie Campbell Bower has been a fan of Miley Cyrus and her music for many years. In 2009, he tweeted that he desperately wanted Miley to message him. "I think i would die," he wrote. He wondered out loud if it was okay for him to like her hit single "The Climb," and then a few days later seemed to have made up his mind, tweeting lyrics from the power ballad as if he were singing along at the top of his lungs.

At a meet and greet ahead of the release of "Twilight: New Moon," Bower belted out Cyrus's song "Party in the USA" to the hysterical shrieks of the gathered fans. "Love you guys," he shared on social media afterwards. "Thanks for letting us sing Miley Cyrus. Sorry if it was out of tune." Speaking of "Party in the USA," it seems to be a particular favorite of the actor. He told Teen Vogue back in 2011 that "Party in the USA" was the most-played song on his iPod — remember those? — and he kept up his standom for over a decade. Many years later, he later told ET Canada that the iconic bop would be the song to save him from his "Stranger Things" villain, Vecna.

There's no word on if Cyrus ever responded to his DMs.

He modeled for Burberry

Jamie Campbell Bower has a very striking appearance, so it makes sense that early in his career, he was tapped to be a model. In 2014, he was announced as one of the faces of a Burberry campaign alongside Malaika Firth and Matilda Lowther (via The Telegraph). "As a young man, I think I know all my friends and myself now strive to look for better clothes and to be as stylish [as possible]," he explained at a Burberry event. He noted that his female friends often have an easier time of it, so he said he focuses on finding good pieces to make himself look good.

Bower was chosen to model for the luxury fashion brand, it seems, because he represents a certain type of British beauty. A Burberry spokesman explained (via Us Weekly), "There's a distinctly English mood to this season — a gentle, effortless, romantic quality, brought to life by a cast of bright young British talent." 

Jamie Campbell Bower was a YA mainstay

Jamie Campbell Bower enjoys acting in fantasy films. He's been in plenty of them, many of them YA-focused, including mega-franchises like "Harry Potter," "Twilight," and "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones." He's done so many, in fact, that he admitted to being a "franchise w***e" when he confirmed his "Harry Potter" role to Digital Spy, revealing that he'd be starring as the younger version of the ultra-evil wizard Gellert Grindelwald in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." 

"The fantasy genre, for me, is a world where we can create something better than our own existence," he told Schön! Magazine. "Often in fantasy there is a deep message of how we should love and treat both the world in which we live and each other. That, I love."

That being said, Bower insisted to Interview Magazine that he wasn't intentionally trying to catch 'em all. "I wanted to be a part of 'Harry Potter,'" he admitted. "I wanted to be a part of the first 'Twilight' movie and unfortunately it didn't work out so great." However, he was invited to play a Volturi in the sequel. "And then 'Mortal' came along." Though Bower was very proud that a "Mortal Instruments" sequel had been greenlit before the first film even premiered, it unfortunately fared so poorly in theaters that the follow-up film was canceled (via The Hollywood Reporter).

He's in recovery

Jamie Campbell Bower has been open about the fact that he has faced addiction in the past. In fact, he told i-D, that openness is an important part of his healing. "One of the first things that they teach you when you're in recovery is to be super honest about what it is that you're feeling, like guilt, shame, fear, sadness, whatever it is," he explained.

A few years later, after his fame had skyrocketed to previously-unseen levels thanks to his role in Netflix mega-hit "Stranger Things," Bower went into more detail about his past on Twitter for fans who hadn't been following his career previously. "12 and a half years ago I was in active addiction," he revealed. "Hurting myself and those around me who I loved the most." The situation got so bad, he wrote, that he was hospitalized. However, he acknowledged that he was over seven years sober, and he offered advice to his followers and fans. "Each day is a chance to start again," he advised. "Remember, we are all works in progress."

Bower's disclosure won him praise and thanks from his followers, many of whom admitted they could relate. "I love you Jamie," one fan wrote. "Knowing that people I look up to have been through things I have encourages me to keep pushing."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

The Vecna voice made one of his co-stars cry

Jamie Campbell Bower is now more famous than he's ever been before thanks to his super-creepy villain role on "Stranger Things." Bower plays the Season 4 villain, Vecna, a demonic being from the Upside Down who turns out to have a surprising connection to Eleven. Aside from his frightening appearance, the voice Bower developed for the character is his most notable trait. Netflix released a behind-the-scenes video showing the actor recording his dialogue in the studio, and it seems he had a blast getting into character on set. "At the end of a long day, the things that were coming out of my mouth in the Vecna voice were always very interesting and very funny," he told ScreenRant.

However, sometimes his on-set antics took things too far. The Vecna voice was so scary in person, it seems, that it made one of the kids he was working with on "Stranger Things" cry. "One, properly," he clarified to Vulture, and then he insisted that it wasn't his fault. "Through nothing else other than just doing what I was told. Let me make that perfectly clear!"

The Vecna voice has since become somewhat of a calling card for the star, and he's been asked to do it in numerous interviews. When Bower stopped by "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," the host had him break out the voice for a number of instantly-memeable moments, including reciting "Titanic" dialogue and Lizzo lyrics.

Getting into character as Vecna

Jamie Campbell Bower's Vecna is the scariest "Stranger Things" villain yet. Behind the scenes, it seems that Bower really threw himself into the role, trying to be as creepy as possible in order to get into character. He told People that he had an intense way of getting into Vecna's headspace. "I'd print them off, my next victim, and I would cross their eyes out and put them up on my wall. And I'd stare at them," he revealed.

He also spent a lot of time working on Vecna's physicality. In an interview with Bloody Disgusting, he said that he focused on Vecna's fingers and his method of walking. "The walk was something that I was always very interested in, how I would hold myself and move my fingers as I was walking," he revealed. "I spent a lot of time walking around downtown Los Angeles, literally walking around very slowly and moving my fingers."

Bower knows the toll a performance like this can take on a person. "Someone I work with once said 'all you have to lose is your mind,'" he recalled to Schön! Magazine. "I like that."