It was the kind of casting that seems preordained: When Jessica Chastain was officially tapped in February to play the adult Beverly Marsh in the much-anticipated horror sequel “It: Chapter Two,” the news came only after months of fans dream casting the redhead for the role, drumming up enough chatter that Chastain herself happily admitted to wanting the role in November of last year. The chance to take on the part of grown up Beverly (played by Sophia Lillis in the 2017 horror hit) also appealed to Chastain because it would reunite her with two of her favorite collaborators: director Andy Muschietti and his producer sister Barbara Muschietti.
But that wasn’t the only element that spoke to her. Like plenty of other genre fans, Chastain grew up reading Stephen King’s books and watching the movies they inspired, even if she was perhaps a smidge too young to dip into his brand of terror.
“Oh, yeah. I remember reading ‘Pet Sematary,'” Chastain said in a recent interview with IndieWire. “Ohhh, I was so young when I read that book, and I got so scared. And I watched that movie so many times. I read ‘The Shining.’ I really like his writing.”
The actress, who is currently promoting this week’s release “Woman Walks Ahead” (more on that, including an interview with Chastain and her director Susanna White, to come), is also a big fan of the horror genre, one she believes has often provided the kind of empowered parts for women that still aren’t prevalent in Hollywood.
“I actually love the horror genre, because I found that in the past — I think things are changing now — but in the past the horror genre [in particular] really has great female characters,” Chastain said. “I’m very happy to work again in a genre that actually has empowered women. And in that genre, you usually see the person surviving at the end being the lady. Do you know what I mean? She conquers the monsters or the bad guys, and she walks away at the end.”
As Chastain also noted, the film is her third foray into the genre, including “Mama” and “Crimson Peak.”
In King’s original 1986 novel, young Beverly and her friends battle the terrifying clown Pennywise, before growing up (and apart) into very different adults, forever linked by the horrors of their childhood in fictional Derry, Maine. Beverly, the lone girl in the self-professed Losers Club, escapes Derry for big city life in Chicago, going on to become a successful fashion designer.
Yet the scars of her early life run deep, and adult Beverly has spent much of her life in abusive relationships that harken back to her childhood with her evil father. When Pennywise appears again in Derry, the Losers are forced to come back together to take him out once and for all, just as they vowed so many years before.
The “It: Chapter Two” cast also includes James McAvoy, Xavier Dolan, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean, and Isaiah Mustafa. Bill Skarsgård is returning in the role of Pennywise. Production is now underway in Toronto.
Warner Bros. Pictures will release “It: Chapter Two” in theaters nationwide September 6, 2019.