There’s a moment in Stephen King’s 1986 novel “It” that’s a bit of a challenge, and looking back on King’s efforts from the ’70s and ’80s, it’s easy to see how head-on the horror author handled topics such as race and homosexuality. Director Muschietti hopes to reclaim an element of the story that’s gotten lost along the way. Slight spoilers ahead for “It: Chapter Two.”
One of the characters in the novel, Adrian Mellon, is a young gay man, played in Muschietti’s follow-up film by Canadian auteur Xavier Dolan (who’s also openly gay himself). Adrian meets a horribly cruel fate when he’s assaulted by a group of bigots while out with his boyfriend after a carnival. He’s badly beaten, tossed off a bridge and into the water, where he’s killed by Pennywise the Clown.
This hate-crime scene was ignored entirely in Tommy Lee Wallace’s campy 1990 TV miniseries which, according to Muschietti in a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, made sense creatively.
“It was TV and they didn’t have the possibility of making a Rated R [movie] or anything,” the director said. “But, in my vision of the movie, Adrian Mellon was always there. The impact of that event in my mind was always very deep. For me, there wasn’t a choice for that.”
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Muschietti used the true story of Charlie Howard, a gay man who was killed in King’s hometown of Bangor, Maine in 1984 by a group of teenagers, as a point of reference. “It’s one of the things that really caused a deep impact on Stephen King when he was writing ‘It.’ So, he decided to include it,” he said. “Of course, the names are changed, but the beating happened almost exactly like it’s described in the book, and Charlie died in three feet of water in the canal.”
Muschietti, who recently became attached to directing “The Flash” with Ezra Miller, made one change to Mellon’s character in keeping with Howard’s story. “He was asthmatic, so that made things really worse. The thing I’m adding in the scene is that Adrian is asthmatic, as well. For me, it was always an essential part of the story,” the director said.
For the Argentine director and screenwriter, his friend Dolan was his go-to guy. “When the idea happened, the first one I called was Xavier and he said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.'”
“It: Chapter Two” bows September 5 from Warner Bros. First reactions broke out this week, with Oscar buzz surrounding Bill Hader’s performance as one of the members of the Losers’ Club.