IT CHAPTER TWO
About The Production (Con'd)
IT COMES BACK
Come out and play, Losers!
While a mixture of reasons compels the Losers to heed Mike's calls and return
Muschietti knows that Pennywise wants them back for one of the oldest reasons in
history. The director asserts, "He basically wants them back to take revenge.
That becomes very
evident at the beginning of this film. Mike hears about a violent crime near the
bridge, and he
goes to the scene and sees the message 'Come Home' written three times in blood.
is goading them. IT remains a very cryptic character in the second chapter, but
in this aspect, he's
very clear. And he's back with a vengeance."
Barbara Muschietti adds, "He's been waiting all these years, but he knows
because he knows the kind of courage it took to defeat him the first time
around. And while
they've been away, he's been planning..."
The return of Pennywise also means the real-world reappearance of Bill
Skarsgard in the
role he brought menacingly and memorably to life in "IT." Muschietti says, "This
time, we really
pushed Bill to the limit, and he accepted that and then went even further.
Pennywise appears in
many forms and, many times, he is completely out of control. Bill did not hold
back, ever. He
always had this terrifying unpredictability to the character. Sometimes, he
would even be
unpredictable to me, and to himself, probably. But we always trusted each other,
relationship that started on 'IT' continued."
Once Skarsgard and Andy Muschietti began to collaborate on Pennywise well
shooting began on "IT," the actor and director never stopped conversations about
and how he would figure into both chapters. Many of these nascent ideas later
showed up in
Dauberman's screenplays for the films.
With regard to his time away from performing the character, Skarsgard says,
"I was in L.A.
for an unrelated reason, and Andy wanted me to do a test for some of the
that would be used for the new film. It was months before we were to start
shooting. I thought
I'd basically be in a chair, just sort of going through it, but it was a full
scene from the screenplay.
I show up, and then Andy says, 'Action!' And Pennywise was right there. I guess
he hadn't really
gone away and he just exploded out of me-even more disturbing, without the
makeup. I was
really shocked at how much of him remained, and how continuing to work on him
character even more.
"What's really changed for him is, this time, he wants them back," the actor
much about what happened in the past was about scaring the kids away. Now, it's
them back, because he missed them in his own way. I think that makes for a
stronger villain. Fear
has always been his weapon, his tool. He instills fear in humans, but he'd never
that was until the Losers, and then he felt it for himself. I think a strange
bond was formed then.
To have an opponent that almost matched him is intriguing. And after a long
absence, a craving
can develop for the things that one misses."
The director points out another skill the shape-shifter has developed while
away. "One of
the first encounters he has with a child in this film, we recognize it as a
mirror scene of what
happened with Georgie. But now, there is a sophisticated manipulation that he
more cunning and therefore, deadlier. Perverse and much more dangerous. It's
Barbara Muschietti says, "This incarnation of Pennywise is an entity created
by Andy and
by Bill. They both brought a lot to it, and they both realize just how much the
It's really symbiotic. And the big difference between Chapter One and Chapter
Two is that, the
first time, they were finding Pennywise. This time, they know very well who
Pennywise is, and
he's a smarter villain. He's been planning for all these years, and he's going
to show them all."
The expansive cast filling out Muschietti's vast canvas for the epic struggle
Losers and the creature called Pennywise also includes: Joan Gregson as Mrs.
Kersh, an elderly
lady now living in the old Marsh apartment, who welcomes Beverly with a most
homecoming; and Teach Grant as the adult Henry Bowers, who's been
institutionalized ever since
his arrest for the death of his sheriff father.
A TOWN THAT DOES FORGET
Something happens to you when you leave this town.
The farther away, the hazier it all gets.
For his own return to Derry, Andy Muschietti assembled an impressive group of
and designers, including a substantial amount of department heads with whom he
collaborated: director of photography Checco Varese, editor Jason Ballantine,
Luis Sequeira and composer Benjamin Wallfisch. Fresh to the mix is production
Austerberry whom, quips Barbara Muschietti, "we've been wanting to work with for
time...even before he won his Oscar."
To accommodate the structure of the second chapter-hopscotching between 1989
present day-production incorporated sets and locations previously utilized in
addressed their contrasting appearances 27 years apart. In addition, the story
with new environments, ultimately expanding the visuals and backdrop for the
between the Losers and Pennywise.
Varese treated the previous film as a touchstone, repeatedly referring to
footage in order
to continue the look of "IT" into the newly shot flashback sequences, while the
scenes in present
day featured their own unique feel and tone. He employed various types of
spherical lenses with an anamorphic bokeh for the past, and spherical lenses for
differentiate each time thread.
The cinematographer further sought to distinguish the two periods with
lighting. "It's a
darker tone," Varese explains about the world of the grown-up Losers, "and a
These characters come with their own baggage. For their adult lives, they've
been living with
their nightmares, and they bring those with them. We wanted to make the lighting
part of the
nightmares." Tempering the atmosphere, Varese is quick to note, "They also bring
love, irony and friendship as well."
Andy Muschietti says, "The visual interest of this movie lies in the
transitions, how we
move from present to past and back to the present day. For me, it's part of the
style, but it's also
a lot of fun, because you get to choose when those jumps occur and execute them
With his background as a cameraman in news and documentaries, Varese was
accustomed to the camera-as-participant scenario. While filming scenes of the
forging through the cistern-where previously, the young Beverly hovered,
transfixed by the
deadlights-the cinematographer bounced light thrown by the practical flashlights
gloved hands, using varying shades of white-to-gray for lighting each actor. The
rule on the set:
when Checco's in the water, everyone else goes in, too.
Every shooting and lighting choice was executed to keep the visuals in sync
Muschietti's storytelling vision. Varese comments, "I've seen my grips and arm
things that I wouldn't even know how to do with a needle and thread. They push
technocrane through doors, walls and people, to get the shot that Andy wants.
sliders, handheld, in fire, through blood, underwater, above the water, in the
middle of the
water... Close-ups, macro, 'Can you go closer?' 'Sir, the pupil of the actor is
touching the front of
the lens.' 'Oh, okay, so we cannot go any closer.'"
Most of the director's vision was initially shared through drawings. An
artist, Muschietti began character explorations early on with sketches, which
were then fully
developed by concept artists. During production, he also arrived every morning
to set with his
own storyboards as a beginning blueprint for shooting the day's scenes.
Varese adds, "Andy's a fantastic artist, and the fact that he's
extraordinarily good at
storyboards helps him understand the shots. It gave us all a thumbprint to start
from, and then
we started developing."
Production designer Austerberry started his work on "IT Chapter Two" by also
himself in Chapter One, additionally looking to references from sources as
diverse as 18th-century
Italian art and American carnivals of the past. Austerberry says, "What I loved
about the first film
was it really sold me on that small-town Maine. The color palette was really
lovely. It's been quite
exciting to take it to the next level and tell an even larger story."
During pre-production, the designer also visited Port Hope, Ontario, which
Derry, Maine in both chapters. Leveraging his training as an architect,
Austerberry noticed the
interestingly structured clock tower above the town's library. After venturing
Muschietti, he persuaded filmmakers to move Mike Hanlon from his originally
featureless apartment to a rent-free lair inside the attic and tower (later
reimagined and built on
a soundstage, rooms, tower, clock workings and all).
Previously established settings now revisited by the present-day Losers were
rebuilt, mostly to accommodate the changes brought on by the intervening years,
both in Derrytime and real-time. Since 2017, the town's existing pharmacy had
downsized by a third, and
production had to reclaim the whole space to match with "IT." The Marsh
previously been a practical set, but now, was re-created on a soundstage, to
make way for
Beverly's return and homecoming tea with Mrs. Kersh. The town park statue of
Paul Bunyan was
beefed up, ultimately standing around 21-feet tall.
Taking a cue from Italian artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi's etchings of
Austerberry refashioned the cistern inside a soundstage water tank, 75-feet in
diameter. In "IT
Chapter Two," the space is now studded with large chunks that have fallen from
the ceiling and
walls. The water level is higher than in the 1989 confrontation with Pennywise,
and his circus
wagon has been reduced to a split open husk, still surrounded by mounds of
toys. When filled with 180,000 gallons of heated, filtered and chlorinated
portraying adult Losers faced dark water four-and-one-half feet deep; the same
submerged scaffolding, which allowed the crew to stand in only a foot of water
In a pivotal early scene, after so many years of separation, the Losers meet
up in the local
Chinese restaurant, dubbed the Jade of the Orient, which was actually a
redressed with faĆ§ade and the more private interior dining room, where the
reunion takes place.
The out-of-towners have rooms at the Derry Town House, in actuality, the
between an exterior in Port Hope and the interior of a converted 1880's mansion
outside of Toronto. The institution that has housed Henry Bowers since '89 is
actually a disused
hospital, which was marked for demolition immediately following production.
One of the largest new settings is the carnival, held adjacent to the town,
of the annual Canal Days Festival. Muschietti notes, "The carnival is a new evil
phase that basically
concentrates all of the bad vibes of Derry. It's all happiness, color and music,
but you know there's
something wrong. The horrible face of the town is personified by a huge clown
that looks over it
Much of the fair set consisted of redressed carnival rides and attractions,
with the big
exception of the newly built funhouse. Austerberry looked to funhouse designs
from the last
century, which influenced the leering clown head and the entrance through its
mouth, as well as
the room of clown punching bags and the hall of mirrors.
Fans of King's novel will also appreciate the appearance of the young Losers'
which is constructed by Ben in a hollowed underground space, where the kids
spend time during
the summer of 1989. The set, along with all others constructed for filming this
time around, were
housed in six soundstage facilities in and around Toronto.
All of this construction was to allow Muschietti and production teams the
capture as much of the story in-camera as possible, later enlarging spaces or
events too big or
otherworldly to capture with film. The dictum was, use practical to go as far as
it could go, and
rely on visual effects for moments beyond the scope of the build.
A shining example of this philosophy involved a scene with Jessica Chastain,
character comes face-to-face with a fear that has haunted her since childhood.
In "IT," Beverly is
seen holed up in a school bathroom stall, while she is bullied and belittled by
the cool clique.
Pennywise now flings her back there to face an even more nightmarish scenario.
Eschewing the digital, the production trucked 5,000 gallons of "blood" (a
formula of methylcellulose and red dye) from an effects house in California to
set in Toronto.
Multiple tests were conducted to see that their leading lady would not be turned
pink by the
stuff. To achieve the speedy inundation effect Muschietti desired, a system of
pipes were built to fill the space with two-and-a-half tons of blood. When the
time came to shoot,
the system worked, and Chastain gamely filmed two separate takes, falling in,
counting to five and shooting back up again.
"It was disgusting," the actress laughingly admits. "It got in my eyeballs,
my ears, my nose.
We filmed all night. Then, Andy was saying, 'It's so great. I'm so happy.' I
said, 'Okay, well, you're
gonna find out how happy you are!' At the very end of the shooting day, I gave
Andy and Barbara
the biggest bear hug. They blew up this picture and gave it to me-it's all of us
just covered in
this slime. But we all look really happy."
Some of Chastain's castmates emerged from their filming paces with tiny
their more physical scenes. James McAvoy confesses, "I've done a few action
movies in my time-
some with serious action for most of the film. But, I've never been as banged up
as I have on this
one. Andy would call 'Cut!' and say 'It was perfect, absolutely perfect. Best
shot we've done...
Okay, one more time.' I'm like, 'Wait a minute. How can you improve on
perfection?' 'Sure, it
was perfect. Once more, please.' But I admit, I was a bit of a glutton for
punishment. I kind of
enjoyed it." He quickly adds with a smile, "But that's what happens when you
have a bunch of
40-year-olds running around, doing an action movie."
Bill Hader picks up, "I didn't do anything crazy. I'm used to being across
from someone at
a desk, not being chased by giant clowns. PJ [Ransone], James, Isaiah and Jay
were literally falling,
somersaulting and crashing into shit. I pulled a groin muscle because I ran."
Chastain reasons, "I knew this from working on 'Mama.' When you're working
it's going to be long days. For him, there's nothing that he loves more than
being on a film set.
There's this childlike wonder that he has. He's so excited, and that is really
Barbara is the only producer who could put a film like this together. The reason
why we have
these beautiful films that Andy makes is because of the partnership between him
In between the gore, scares and extremely long days for the filmmakers, cast
found pockets of relaxation, joking and musical interludes. Between takes, Andy
would often play piano, with Chastain a talented chanteuse.
For the music to accompany the inevitable cinematic return of the Losers and
Benjamin Wallfisch returned to create the score. He explains, "One of my
with Andy was how we could take what we did for the first movie and give it more
ambition, to reflect the scope of the film. To start, we used a much larger
orchestra and choir,
and also created several new themes. When we occasionally reprise moments from
score, we re-recorded them with more complex and ambitious arrangements, like
the music itself
had gone through 27 years of maturing.
"But the most exciting challenge," Wallfisch expands, "was how to develop the
themes and create new ones that fit alongside them. There was a lot more music
really allowed room for the original themes to develop and evolve in a way
driven by the
emotional complexity of how the Losers' Club grapple with inner demons from the
painful memories, and ultimately unite to confront their biggest fears.
Pennywise is even more
flagrant this time, and the music had to also reflect that increased darkness,
while never losing
sight of the adventure and emotion that are at the core of the movie."
That sense of adventure, laced with emotion, is what initially drew Barbara
adapting King's enduringly popular novel, and what she takes with her from the
remembers, "When we realized that we were about to film the last shot, Andy
shot because none of us wanted to let go. We've watched these kids grow and
become who they
are and now, they're family. We've been eating, breathing and sleeping-not a
amazing book for four years, making these two movies that have changed our
characters have connected with so many people, especially when you hear kids
talk about the
Losers, and how they found these people onscreen that they could relate to.
That, for me, is why
you make a movie."
King asserts, "With 'IT,' Andy made a horror movie, while also putting the
kids, first. In 'IT Chapter Two,' the interaction between the Losers as adults
and their younger
counterparts shows up in flashbacks, illuminating moments from the first
chapter. In revisiting
these moments, we see a wider perspective from an adult point-of-view. Again,
Andy is placing
the characters front and center. As a result, this creates a high-stakes horror
Andy Muschietti once again returns to his love of the filmmaking process when
"Making a movie is an exercise in chaos, you plan and prepare yourself as much
as possible to
counter that chaos. At the same time, you have to be open to things that change
on the day. It's
very important that you have a good understanding of every beat, every scene and
character is going through at every point in the process. I'm always open to the
question. A lot of
times, actors will bring you to understand the story in deeper and deeper
"This project," he concludes, "has attained levels I never dreamt of. To be
this epic story and be able to tell it over two films has been unbelievable. I'm
deeply grateful how
much it connected with audiences, and how they are waiting, like me, to watch
and see how the
journey ends. I truly believe you are going to be very scared, but you will also
leave the theater
For 27 years, I dreamt of you.
I craved you.
I've missed you!
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