You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘It: Chapter Two’: Andy Muschietti and Jessica Chastain Explain Brutal Hate Crime in Opening Scene

SPOILER ALERT: The following story contains details of the opening scene of “It: Chapter Two.”

Fans of Stephen King’s novel “It” will be familiar with the opening scene of “It: Chapter Two,” director Andy Muschietti’s follow-up to his first “It” installment in 2017.

A gay couple is walking home from a carnival in Derry, Maine when they are brutally attacked by a group of teens hurling slurs. During the beating, the attackers throw one of them from a bridge into a river. It’s a brutally realistic scene — that is, until Pennywise appears and drags the man out of the water and bites into his lifeless body, as his boyfriend looks on in terror.

While the deadly gay bashing is never addressed later in the film, it turns out the event occurs in King’s novel and was inspired by Charlie Howard, a real gay man who was killed by a group of teens in King’s hometown of Bangor, Maine in 1984.

Muschietti says including the scene was essential to the storytelling.

“It was very important to me because it is of relevance,” he tells Variety. “I probably wouldn’t have included it if it wasn’t in the book, but it was very important for Stephen King. When he wrote it, he was talking about the evil in the human community. He was talking about how dark humans can get in a small American town…For me, it was important to include it because it’s something that we’re still suffering. Hate crimes are still happening. No matter how evolved we think society is going, there seems to be a winding back, especially in this day and age where these old values seem to be emerging from the darkness.”

The man killed in the film, Adrian Mellon, is played by gay filmmaker Xavier Dolan with his boyfriend portrayed by Taylor Frey, who is also gay.

“The reason why I think Stephen King is the king of this genre is because he writes psychological horror,” Jessica Chastain, who plays the adult Beverly Marsh in the sequel, told Variety. “The monster usually is spawned from a human. It’s inside of us. Look at ‘Pet Cemetery.’ Look at ‘Misery.’ We can become our worst enemies sometimes. He wrote the novel ‘It’ because a hate crime was committed in his childhood town. That darkness, he wanted to explore and that’s the first scene in our film.”

Asked to further elaborate, Chastain said, “It’s going to be hard to talk about this without crying.”

She continued, “I think you need that scene because he writes about the darkness that’s under the surface. The dirt under the fingernails of these small towns or of mankind. That’s what ‘It’ represents. It’s the darkness of human behavior. I think it was important to see Adrian’s scene and not to change it from what it is in the novel because we’re living in a time right now where it is very much a part of our culture and part of our conversation and we haven’t moved past it. So, we can’t pretend that it doesn’t still exist because it’s part of our every day.”

The hate crime was not included in a 1990 miniseries adaptation of the novel.

You can hear the full interviews with Chastain and Muschietti on this week’s upcoming episode of “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s film podcast, dropping at iHeartRadio or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts on Thursday, Aug. 29.

More Film

  • Rocketman

    'Rocketman': Chris Dickens Discusses the Inside Story of Editing 'I'm Still Standing'

    Endings are so important and how the viewer leaves the cinema is crucial. For editor Chris Dickens, finding the perfect ending for “Rocketman” was paramount, but it was also a challenge. Elton John’s hit “I’m Still Standing” was going to end the film with the original idea of going to Cannes to recreate the video [...]

  • A general view of the skyline

    United Media Asia Strikes Deal With Indonesian Giant Kompas Gramedia

    Newly-formed content finance, production and distribution company United Media Asia has struck a first look deal, brokered by Hollywood talent agency CAA, with Indonesian media giant Kompas Gramedia. United has also unveiled its first two feature films. The partnership provides UMA with access to Kompas Gramedia’s media network and its 100,000 pieces of intellectual property, [...]

  • Taron Egerton Fashion

    Taron Egerton's Stylist Used Elton John as Inspiration on Press Tour

    Showstopping looks: For Taron Egerton’s “Rocketman” tour, stylist Gareth Scourfield nodded to Elton John’s iconic wardrobe with bold colors, patterns and silhouettes: “We got a bit more eccentric.” May 16 “Elton is the real original showman,” says Scourfield, who met Egerton through another client, Egerton’s “Rocketman” co-star Richard Madden. “Part of Taron as a man [...]

  • Lupita Nyong'o Us Best Actress

    Looking to Indie and Genre Performances in the Best Actress Oscar Race

    This year’s race for lead actress could yield some surprising nominations, outside of some clear front-runners including Renee Zellweger (“Judy”), Charlize Theron (“Bombshell”), and Scarlett Johansson (“Marriage Story”). It’s been a terrific year for female performances, with a wide selection of talent taking on challenging roles spread over various genres. The recent societal demand toward [...]

  • Stephen Sondheim's 'Follies' in the Works

    Stephen Sondheim's 'Follies' in the Works as a Movie From Heyday, BBC Films

    David Heyman’s Heyday Films, whose credits include “Gravity,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “Marriage Story” and the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts franchises, and BBC Films have secured the film rights to Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman’s musical “Follies.” “Follies” will be adapted for the screen and directed by Dominic Cooke, a four-time Olivier [...]

  • Gabrielle Carteris SAG Awards

    Gabrielle Carteris Preps for 26th Annual SAG Awards

    SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris is already looking forward to the 26th SAG Awards on Jan. 19, held in its usual location at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. “One of the best things about the SAG Awards is that it’s a peer-to-peer recognition,” she says. “It’s the highest honor for performers to be recognized by [...]

  • Robert Pattinson The Lighthouse Best Actor

    Best Actor Oscar Race Dominated by Known Faces

    In this year’s Oscar race for the lead actor prize, two of the front-runners represent a pair of films likely to duke it out for best picture: Leonardo DiCaprio, whose fading Western TV star Rick Dalton is the heart and soul of Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” and Robert De Niro, who [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content