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James McAvoy and Bill Hader Join ‘IT: Chapter Two’

Warner Bros. is obviously really embracing some fan casts.
By  · Published on April 13th, 2018

Ever since IT became a surprise horror blockbuster last September, there’s been a ton of buzz over who will get to play the adult versions of the members of the Losers’ Club in IT: Chapter Two. Jessica Chastain was the first actor to enter negotiations and is now set to play adult Beverly Marsh, the only girl in the group. It was particularly easy to get hyped about Chastain’s potential involvement because of the power of fan casts. Along with Amy Adams, Chastain was always a popular candidate to play Beverly, and Warner Bros. is just giving the people what they want.

Per Variety, a couple more actors seem close to locking in roles in Chapter Two. James McAvoy and Bill Hader have reportedly entered negotiations to play Bill Denbrough and Richie Tozier, respectively. Jaeden Lieberher and Finn Wolfhard portrayed the teenage counterparts of these characters in IT; the former being the de facto leader of the Losers’ Club and the latter, a loud and foul-mouthed but incredibly loyal friend.

Chapter Two takes place 27 years after the events of IT. The Losers’ Club is forced to return to Derry, a hometown they would all much rather forget, when their otherworldly nemesis, Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård), awakens after its long slumber and is out for fresh blood. Pennywise is not only back to kill more children, though. It wants revenge after being defeated by the Club years prior and will tap into their deep-seated fears in order to upend their lives once again. As adults, the members of the Losers’ Club find that they still have a lot of terrors to face and that most of them stem from this shared childhood trauma.

McAvoy is a less expected choice to play Bill, as fan casts usually favored the likes of Patrick Wilson; my personal favorite Bill hopeful happens to be Corey Stoll. But McAvoy is actually a great choice for Bill due to his onscreen versatility. McAvoy proficiently embodied 23 distinctive personalities in Split last year, and that film alone showcases his chameleonic tendencies as an actor. But McAvoy is especially good at nailing intense dramatic performances (Atonement) and can be easily likable (The Chronicles of Narnia, any of the X-Men films) too, which are both qualities that Bill possesses. Despite being a more traditional hero in IT, a grown-up Bill becomes a far more complicated character once the lures and trappings of adulthood take hold of him. Seeing McAvoy embody those internal conflicts would be a real treat.

Bill Hader The Skeleton Twins

As for Hader, fans have been championing him to play Richie for months, so this particular casting is much less surprising. Nevertheless, Hader is a stellar choice to play Richie as a grown-up. At least in the film version of IT, Richie is implied to have a difficult home life like the rest of the Losers’ Club, and he takes solace in offensive comedy as well as the trust he builds with his friends. The book version of Richie then builds up a notable career doing comedic voices on the radio after leaving Derry and separating from his friends. Yet he is still haunted by past trauma that awaits back home.

Having made a tangible start on Saturday Night Live and done multiple successful comedy films, Hader has proven himself to be a hilarious onscreen presence. He has demonstrated the ability to portray struggling characters too. The Skeleton Twins is a hidden gem in Hader’s filmography that broke him out of the SNL mould. The film, about the troubled relationship between twins, allowed Hader and co-star Kristen Wiig to flex some serious dramatic chops as they navigate themes of depression and suicide. The film is definitely intense,but basically serves as the perfect precursor to Hader playing adult Richie.

Seeing as Warner isn’t opposed to listening to the fans when it comes to Chapter Two, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone already contacted Chris Pratt to play Ben Hanscom. IT managed to subvert expectations with the film’s young cast of relative newcomers, but Chapter Two is certainly gearing up to feature some of the biggest names out there. Sometimes, though, predictability isn’t a bad thing in the slightest.

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Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)