Tonight is the night, everyone! IT Chapter Two is floating its way into theaters everywhere, and to get you ready for all the Derry drama and Pennywise’s shenanigans, here are some of the highlights from the recent press conference for the sequel, featuring the Adult Losers Club members Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Isaiah Mustafa, and Andy Bean.
Read on to see what they had to say about their love of Stephen King’s books, their experiences on set, working with Bill Skarsgård, and more.
I think almost everybody has read Stephen King’s books. There's a reason his name resonates so powerfully. Were any of you super big Stephen King fans when you were younger?
Jessica Chastain: I was. I think Pet Sematary was one of the first books that I read that wasn't assigned to me. And then I went from there to The Shining to Misery. And I loved that her name was Misery Chastain. I was like, "Yes!" So yeah, I was a Stephen King fan.
Bill Hader: I had a similar experience where my grandfather took me to a bookstore, and I had to get Red Badge of Courage for school, and I was kind of bummed out about that. And then he said, "You know, you can go get another book if you want, for yourself." So I went to the young adult section, and he went, "No, no, no. You can go into the fiction section, you're 12, you can handle it." The fiction section, if you're a book nerd, that's where all the sex and...
Jessica Chastain: Bad words.
Bill Hader: Yeah, bad words. But I picked up ’Salem's Lot, and I read it in a weekend. And also, it was that first experience of reading an adult book. And it was 400-something pages and you finished it, you know? And you felt like it was this massive accomplishment.
Isaiah Mustafa: No, but after I saw the IT miniseries in high school, I was. I missed the first night, because it was a two-night event, and everybody was talking about it at school. So I saw the second night, and that was back when, unless you taped it, you couldn't go back and DVR it. So after that, that's when I first read It, because I wanted to know what I missed. I didn't know that I'd find out what I missed three months later, because it's a thousand-page book. So it took me forever to get through it.
Jay Ryan: Yeah, I mean, I attempted to read It when I was younger, and I think it was just a little bit too scary for me, and too many pages at the time.
Andy Bean: It's still too many pages [laughs].
Jay Ryan: Yeah. I prefer the film version. But I was engrossed in the audio book when I took this role on, all 40 hours of it, which is read by Michael C. Hall. And that's quite an amazing immersive experience to be able to listen, if you're a lazy reader like myself. And recently I read Stephen King's On Writing, which is a personal book as well as tips on how he creates his worlds, and a little look into his imagination.
Bill Hader: I think that might be his best book.
Jay Ryan: I think so, too.
Bill Hader: I love that book. I've read that multiple times.
James Ransone: I'm probably the most lazy, I guess. Mine was informed sort of back and forth between the miniseries and then The Shining, and then you're like, "Wait, what's the source material?" But the only book that I read, where I started that I didn't have any previous knowledge of was The Stand. And that scared me I think more than It, because it felt more plausible, somehow. Yeah, that was mine.
Andy Bean: Yeah, we actually have that [in] common. I picked up my dad's paperback of The Stand. It was on his night table and I read that and scared myself shitless. But actually, I was introduced to Stephen King from the miniseries. It was like a bootleg, brick VHS thing, and I went over to somebody's house. I had no idea what I was doing and getting myself into, and [I was] just traumatized for an entire month. Nightmares.
Isaiah Mustafa: I had a little brother that we just scared the hell out of with Pennywise voices.
James Ransone: I did that, too, yeah. I actually took a photo, my dad had a photocopier, because he had his own business. You know how they'll re-market the books? They did it with Tim Curry's face, and I blew it up as big as I could, and I put it next to my brother's bed [laughs]. But I have two little kids, they're ages six and ten and they're not prepared to see this movie, but they know about IT, they have a sense of it.
Bill Hader: Yeah, my kids are the same way. I have three kids.
Andy Bean: They ask you about it?
Bill Hader: All the time. I have three daughters, and they're obsessed with the Ben, Bill, Beverly thing.
Andy Bean: They know the story.
Bill Hader: They just go like, "Who does she pick?" I showed them the trailer of the film, like, "So, what do you guys think?" And one said, "Too long of tongue, and too much blood." And then the other one, who's four, was like, "I like the actors, but I shouldn't see it."
There are a lot of emotions and heaviness that your characters have to endure, but also, there’s a lot of physical performing. Can you guys talk about the action and the physical acting you had to do. Did anybody come away from IT with any memorable scars?
Bill Hader: Yeah, I pulled my groin muscles when we were running. I was running away from the clown, and I turned around and everyone’s doing barrel rolls, or jumping over and sliding, doing kick-ass things. [James] McAvoy is finding stuff to jump and do pirouettes over. And I just turned and went, "Ugh!" And pulled a groin muscle and had to have this nice Canadian doctor give me like an MRI going, "Oh wow, doing a stunt? How'd you do this then? Ah, running away from [a] clown, eh?"
For Jessica, I wanted to know about filming the bloodbath scene. How did you prepare for that and what's it like when you were doing it on set?
Jessica Chastain: Well, there was no way to really prepare for it because you don't know what it's going to be like. We had done a rehearsal with water, but water was a lot thinner than the material, whatever the liquid that they used. And there's visibility with water. So it's kind of the fear of, when it fills up and I go under, no one can see me, and it was kind of deep. So you have those little fears. But I had said to Andy [Muschietti] and Barbara [Muschietti] before we did it, I said, "I'm happy to do it. The only thing that will make me super happy at the end is, when I'm finished and you guys call wrap, I want you guys in white T-shirts and I'm going to give you guys a bear hug and we're going to take a photo of it."
And it was amazing, actually, because Andy complained so much just from having the slime on him for a little bit. But what I didn't understand as well, because I thought that the blood would magically disappear because it was in her imagination, so I just imagined when the scene was over, she'd be back to being normal Beverly. But Andy, because he loves to torture me, dressed me in black for the whole end of the film, that was probably the most miserable part is before every take, they had a kiddie pool filled with the blood, and they had to pour it on me.
James Ransone: There was a noise that she would make where we knew she was done.
Bill Hader: We would be off in a corner and would take. They'd be like, "All right, we're almost ready. We've got to take Jessica in the back to put the blood on her." And we would be sitting there and then you would hear them splash and then you would [hear] Jessica go, "Huh-uh-uh-uh." That was our signal.
We heard a lot of stories from the first film of what the kid Losers experienced with Bill Skarsgård staying in character as Pennywise to terrorize them. So I'm curious what your experience was like filming with Bill as Pennywise?
Bill Hader: It wasn't that scary. He can't really do that to us. Because we'd be like, "Bill, what are you doing? Buddy, don't do that."
Andy Bean: We also went out to dinner a lot with him.
Bill Hader: I remember I landed and Andy was like, "You must come and meet me and Bill Skarsgård." And there was this whiskey thing that I drank, remember? And they brought it out and it was like this whiskey thing, covered in smoke and they took the lid off of it and all the smoke dissipated and there was just this thing of whiskey, and it was like Andy and Bill Skarsgård saying, "Drink it." Like, my bags were still with me and I was like, "Oh, okay, cool. What are we doing here?"
Jay Ryan: He is very unpredictable, though. When we were shooting a scene with them in the get-up as Pennywise, every take is completely different. There's spit flying. It's very frenetic energy and you often have to remember that you're shooting a film to stay in it with them, instead of just falling into his mesmerizing performance.
Jessica Chastain: He got me at the read-through. I didn't really know him that well and we all showed up, we were all meeting each other for the first time. And it was a room full of like 50 people and all the Warner Brothers executives were there, too. So, we were all playing it cool, and he was sitting on my right. He started a scene and I guess I'm a jumpy person, because in the middle of a scene he got in my face and went, "Boo!" You know, that thing he does? And I screamed because I wasn't expecting it to happen. And Bill said that all the Warner executives were like, "Still got it [laughs]."
In case you missed it, visit our online hub to catch up on all of our IT Chapter Two coverage, including Heather Wixson's review!