'It: Chapter Two' stars recapture other kids' youth

By Fred Topel
Bill Skarsgard plays Pennywise in the film. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- It: Chapter One introduced horror fans to the Losers Club of Derry, Maine, who faced the evil force they called "It," manifested as the evil clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard). It: Chapter Two, in theaters Friday, picks up 26 years later with the Losers Club as adults.

The grown-up cast had to capture the chemistry that made viewers fall in love with those seven kids -- played by Jaeden Martell, Wyatt Oleff, Jack Dylan Grazer, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, Chosen Jacobs and Jeremy Ray Taylor.


It director Andy Muschietti worked with Jessica Chastain on his first film, Mama, so he felt there was no one better to play Beverly as an adult. Chastain herself drew on Lillis's performance.

"I took everything that she did from the first film and used it," Chastain said about Lillis. "I stole her whole performance. Meeting Soph was so incredible, because I loved what she did with the first film. She and I had kind of had conversations through Andy. And so, the first time we met was our first-day rehearsal and I was a bit shy. We literally stood in front of each other and giggled."


Bill Hader plays Richie. He bonded with Jay Ryan, who plays Ben now and became Richie, and Hader's, protector.

"Richie's emotional journey throughout the whole film is quite surprising to see, in contrast to the first movie of who he is," Ryan said. "Seeing how that changed the dynamics of the friendships, I kind of felt really sorry for his character, so when we were filming, I was always like, 'Come on, man.' I always felt like I had to carry him out of there."

Having Ryan as a rock to lean on helped Hader recapture Wolfhard and Taylor's friendship.

"[Ryan] had to carry me out of the hole," Hader said. "It was very sweet. Every time we would do it, he would [say], 'You're going to be okay, man.' That would then make me emotional."

Ben has outgrown his childhood body and found success as an architect, but he's even lonelier than he was as a bullied child.

"He started running emotionally and physically for those 27 years," Ryan said. "I think he was running away from his mother. He was running away from this deep-seated fear of Derry. All those memories have gone, but they're still kind of pungent inside of him. So you can take away the shell, but there's always the yoke inside that needs to be fixed."


As a kid, Ben had a crush on Beverly and wrote poems for her. Perhaps nobody he met outside of Derry ever measured up to Bev.

"That love he holds for Beverly is kind of the key to unlocking him I think," Ryan said. He's held onto that for a long time."

James Ransone plays Eddie. It was his job to match the energy Grazer brought to Eddie.

"I remember watching the movie, I thought, 'Oh man, this is actually going to be really difficult. He's like a machine gun,'" Ransone said. "It's interesting to see a kid that can think and react that fast on his feet because it's not teachable."

Isaiah Mustafa plays Mike, the one Loser who stayed in Derry. Mike spent the last 27 years researching ways to defeat Pennywise. When he got the role, Mustafa read the book twice and listened to it on Audible for eight months. Mustafa said he likes to research his roles intensely.

"I heard a story that Tarantino had a huge backstory for a lot of his characters in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood," Mustafa said. "To me, if you're provided with that, it makes it hard for you to lose. That's just a win for you because you give me all that source material to dig into and I love digging into the research. It provides me with such an opportunity to move in different directions."


Returning to face the kids who got away, Pennywise still is the same Pennywise. Skarsgard said he did not adjust his performance to try to scare the adults.

"My job wasn't to scare the actors per se," Skarsgard said. "It was to scare the characters but no. Same approach, same tricks, maybe a few new tricks. The character is so selfish. He's performing to the actors as opposed to sharing it with them in a way, which is weird, but it's through the character in a sense. I don't have that big of a distinction between performing the character for scaring a kid or scaring an adult. It's sort of the same approach."

The young Losers still appear in the movie. Flashbacks to the summer of 1989 give It: Chapter Two a chance to revisit favorite scenes from the original film. Screenwriter Gary Dauberman said he wrote new scenes that picked up where scenes from Chapter One left off.

"There are extensions of some scenes so we might use that as a device to reorient the audience," Dauberman said. "OK, now we're with the kids and this is at that time when this happened."

In It: Chapter One, the Losers have a fight and split up before reuniting to defeat Pennywise. That period provided Dauberman a gap to fill in new scenes with the young characters.


"That would've been the place that they're most vulnerable to Pennywise for him to scare them," Dauberman said.

In the present day, Dauberman did invent some new scenes for the film adaptation. While the adult Losers return to town, Pennywise still likes to eat children. Dauberman created a new scene where he lures Vicky (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) under the bleachers of a baseball game.

"I wanted to show it's not just happening to our Losers," Dauberman said. "It's happening to other people in town. So it felt important to me to tell that story. What's more American? Little League baseball, something under the bleachers. I really like the idea of people cheering as this girls' getting twisted like that. The bleachers are dark and kind of creepy, too, so it felt like a nice all-American place to have Pennywise attack a young girl."

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