Stephen King’s It novel has always been one of his most challenging to adapt, due both to structure and legacy. In addition to its gargantuan length, the book is very much presented as a dialogue between past and present, childhood and adulthood—and everything lost between—with scenes in the present and past alternating between chapters. This is likely why it was first tackled as a miniseries, and when it came to finally making the jump to the big screen, it was divided between two films and told chronologically. Even so, It Chapter Two was always intended by director Andy Muschietti to somewhat mirror King’s literary presentation.
As he told us in our print interview last month, Muschietti always intended to bring back the child actors of the Losers’ Club, including Finn Wolfhard as Richie, Sophia Lillis as Beverly, and Jaeden Martell as Bill. Their adult counterparts might now be the stars—Bill Hader, Jessica Chastain, and James McAvoy, respectively—but Muschietti even seemed somewhat surprised how much It Chapter Two more closely resembles the novel’s structure with lengthy flashbacks to the 1980s past. Now he’s speaking with Total Film (via Syfy Wire) about how he achieved this with de-aging effects for the young actors.
In what is likely the youngest case of old souls having digital CGI nips and tucks (unlike, say, Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman), Muschietti reveals that the only way to flashback to the magical summer of 1989 was to de-age the actors to how they looked in the previous movie, as it had been two years since he shot that film, which in adolescence is a lifetime (just watch how quickly Wolfhard’s aged in Stranger Things).
“From the beginning, we knew that that would be part of the budget, the visual effects to address that,” Muschietti said. “So we’re going to de-age the kids.”
Muschietti also revealed that Stephen King even encouraged the addition of a new scene to It Chapter Two that the director went on to film. King was famously thrilled with the first 2017 film, and as Muschietti relayed to us in our interview, he was just as ecstatic about an early cut he’d seen of the sequel. But it seems King was also more hands-on in the sequel, giving notes on early drafts of the screenplay.
“It was absolutely huge,” Muschietti said about when he first learned of King’s approval of the 2017 movie. “For me it would be unthinkable when I was 12 or 13.” Hence taking notes on the It Chapter Two script and recalling that the author requested “one all-new scene.”
King’s approval is a huge thing, but it is likely the audience approval that has given Muschietti a grand opportunity on the It sequel. We just learned last week that the movie will be two hours and 45 minutes, an epic length for any genre, much less horror, and yet it feels fitting that a story about a half-dozen lifetimes not be told in haste. And we now know how it will be told as a greater whole.
It Chapter Two opens in theaters on Sept. 6.