It was but a matter of time that Pennywise would return to cash in on box office bounty after his first reign of terror earned ‘It: Chapter One’ more than $700 million (Dh2.5 billion) worldwide.
This may not have been the first screen adaptation of the eponymous novel by Stephen King, what with a Hollywood film, a miniseries and even a Hindi version (‘Woh’) enticing viewers over the years, but it has emerged the most successful with Bill Skarsgard slipping behind the mask as Pennywise The Dancing Clown.
With the second encounter looming on the horizon as ‘It: Chapter Two’ readies for release in the UAE on September 5, Gulf News tabloid! returns to Derry, Maine to look at the band of unlikely heroes — the so-called Losers Club — who must unite after 27 years, following the bloody events of 1989, and take down Pennywise for good.
MEET THE LOSERS’ CLUB (THEN AND NOW)
Then: Considered the leader of the group, Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) carries a lot of baggage following the death of his younger brother Georgie at the hands of Pennywise in the first film. It is his thirst for revenge, and a bid to assuage his guilt for not being able to protect Georgie, which drives Bill into the sewers in the first film to take down Pennywise. The first film ended with the hint of budding romance with Beverly Marsh.
Now: With most of the group splintered, in the span of 27 years, Bill (James McAvoy) has gone on to become a successful author and script writer, while his wife Audra is a Hollywood actress. Although, all the suppressed memories start flooding back when a call from Michael ‘Mike’ Hanlon brings the group back to Derry, Maine for another showdown with the clown.
Benjamin ‘Ben’ Hanscom
Then: As the new kid on the block in Derry, the sensitive, shy Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor) is the smartest one in the group. Being obese made him a victim to constant hazing by resident bully Henry Bowers. His biggest ally in the Losers’ Club is Beverly Marsh, who Ben is smitten by but too shy to express. He eventually walks off into the sunset nursing a broken heart after he sees Bev and Bill kiss in the finale of the first film. This takes place right after the blood oath where the group promises to return if Pennywise is resurrected again.
Now: Fast forward 27 years and the duckling has grown up to be the handsomest of them all. Former ‘Fatboy’ Ben (Jay Ryan) is now an accomplished architect. But even now, he nurses a broken heart over unrequited love. Mike’s call to return to Derry gives Ben another chance with Beverly, even as his childhood demons rear their ugly head again in the form of Bowers.
Richard ‘Richie’ Tozier
Then: Often called ‘Trashmouth’ Tozier, Richie’s (Finn Wolfhard) loud personality hides his insecurities and some buried secrets that are hinted at in the first film. Even though many consider his bond with Bill the strongest, it is in fact Eddie Kaspbrak who holds a soft spot in Richie’s heart. His fears, which Pennywise exploits in the first film, are clown dolls. Richie also secretly is petrified that should he go missing one day, like the young children Derry since the return of Pennywise, his family and friends would soon forget him.
Now: Richie (Bill Hader) is a successful stand-up comic whose eccentricities are a perfect shield for light humour. However, one call from Mike reduces Richie to a bag of nerves. When the group returns to Derry, it is Richie who jumps at the chance to quit on the blood oath and flee Pennywise, with Eddie by his side.
Edward ‘Eddie’ Kaspbrak
Then: Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) is the resident hypochondriac in the Losers Club. His irrational fear is largely fuelled by his mother who believes some calamity will befall her son. In the first film, Eddie breaks his arm when he sees It take the form of a leper at 29 Neibolt House, signifying every disease he may be frightened of. But the incident also forces Eddie to stand up to his mother, and accept the truth that his medication was a placebo.
Now: Eddie (James Ransone), ironically, is an insurance risk assessment manager and married to someone who resembles his mother. Eddie’s fear to return to Derry is compounded when a trip to the pharmacy has him encounter the leper once again and resurrect all his childhood fears.
Beverly ‘Bev’ Marsh
Then: As the only female member of the group, Bev (Sophia Lillis) has the attention of all the boys in the club, but it is Ben who secretly sends her a Haiku that she considers her prized possession. Bev comes from a broken home, with her father Alvin Marsh blaming her for the death of his wife. The first film hints at incest but Bev manages to thwart her father’s passes. In ‘It: Chapter One’, Bev first encounters Pennywise in the bathtub, where she hears voices from the drain. As she lowers a measuring tape into the drain, it pulls away with the hair from all the dead children before Bev is attacked herself.
Now: Bev Marsh (Jessica Chastain) is now Bev Rogan, a successful fashion designer but married to an abusive husband. After Mike’s call to return to Derry, she flees her home and finds comfort with the Losers once again. Ben still holds a flame for her, but she believes the one who sent her the Haiku as a kid was in fact Bill.
Stanley ‘Stan’ Uris
Then: Stan (Wyatt Oleff) is all heart but the weakest link in the club whose fear stops him every step of the way as the group bands to take down the dancing clown in the sewers. He suffers from OCD and is also the last one to believe It exists, largely because it alters the reality he has set for himself.
Now: Stan (Andy Bean) is now an accountant, happily married to Patricia and his hobby for bird watching continues in subtle ways. The scars from the first encounter with Pennywise continue to haunt him and upon receiving Mike’s call, Stan is also the first to recall everything that went down in Derry, leading to a devastating outcome.
Michael ‘Mike’ Hanlon
Then: Mike’s (Chosen Jacobs) the only African-American member of the group and the last to join the Losers, following an encounter with Henry Bowers and his gang of bullies. As the only black kid in Derry, Mike is often subjected to racial slurs, but forges a bond with the Losers in the end.
Now: Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) is now a librarian and the only one who chose to remain in Derry should Pennywise ever return to terrorise the town. His memories of their first encounter with Pennywise are also intact and it is with his prompting that the group returns to Derry once again to take down Pennywise.
WHO IS PENNYWISE?
While the book explores his origins to a great extent, the truth about Pennywise is only covered in detail in ‘It: Chapter Two’. We can tell you that he is an alien life form, who has lived on Earth for millions of years.
It awakens every 27 years and feeds on children for a year before hibernating once again. The shape-shifter adopts the facade of a dancing clown to entice young kids into coming away with him. After he kills Georgie Denbrough in the first film, Bill and the rest of the Losers’ Club band to take Pennywise down before anymore children missing.
While Bill Skarsgard has been heaped praise for his deliciously wicked portrayal of Pennywise, interestingly, Will Poulter was initially cast as the clown, before he dropped out due to a scheduling conflict. Hollywood star Tilda Swinton was also allegedly considered for the role. The only name missing on the list is perhaps Scarlett Johansson.
Using mind control, Pennywise recruits local bully Henry Bowers and his minion, Patrick Hockstetter, to help him take down the Losers Club. Bowers and Hockstetter continue their reign of terror in ‘It: Chapter Two’.
Don’t miss it!
‘It: Chapter Two’ is out in the UAE on September 5.