[Editor’s note: Spoilers ahead for “It Chapter Two.”]
Stephen King’s “It” notoriously clocks in at over 1,100 pages, more than enough material to power Andy Muschietti’s pair of horror outings (he’s already getting chatty about the possibility of a massive director’s cut). Nevertheless, for “It Chapter Two,” Muschietti and screenwriter Gary Dauberman crafted a fresh series of flashbacks that allow the sequel to include appearances from the first film’s young cast while rounding out the emotional stakes for their older counterparts.
Most of the flashbacks build on storylines introduced in the first film, and were pulled directly from King’s text, like Bill and Beverly’s romance or Ben’s own affection for Bev. However, Muschietti and Dauberman’s sequel also makes one major change. Thanks to a key flashback to the Losers’ Club in their younger years, and a later emotional moment involving star Bill Hader (playing an older version of Finn Wolfhard’s Richie Tozier), “It Chapter Two” provides a definitive answer to a long-held fan theory.
While some fans have long speculated that Richie is bisexual, “It Chapter Two” firmly establishes that his sexuality — the revelation of which is his biggest fear, as illustrated during a flashback sequence involving terrifying clown Pennywise — is not strictly heterosexual, and that Richie is indeed interested in men.
Specifically, he has feelings for Eddie Kaspbrak (played by Jack Dylan Grazer and James Ransone), a crush that was apparently in full swing during the events of the first film. “It’s actually not really alluded to in the book,” Ransone said in a recent interview with IndieWire. “I read the book. It’s a big departure from the book.”
And while Ransone didn’t know about the change until he got to the table read, it allowed him to approach the material much like Eddie would have: without realizing some of the major revelations playing out in one of his oldest friend’s heart.
In King’s book, a subplot includes the revelation that an adult Richie got a vasectomy, which didn’t actually keep him from getting an old girlfriend pregnant, a horrifying revelation for the wisecracking Richie. Said Ransone with a laugh, “There’s a whole thing when the Losers’ Club gets back together in the book where it talks about Richie’s ‘super sperm.'”
Ransone said he benefited by bonding early with Hader, all the better to establish the pair as close friends (and maybe more) who have known each other for decades.
“Do you remember that Michael Mann movie ‘Public Enemies’? The one that he shot on like VHS?,” Ransone joked. “Hader and I met at an audition for that like 10, 12 years ago. I always really liked him, so when he showed up in Toronto, we got into it so fast. It’s like [talking about], ‘This is the darkest part of my life and my childhood,’ within 10 minutes.”
He added, “So as long as we were close, that’s all I care about, and that on the screen, those people actually look like they care about one another.”
For the actor, it heightened what he always hopes to find in his roles: real intimacy. “My opinion around all that stuff is, intimacy to me always transcends sexuality,” the actor said. “For me, personally, [sexuality] is not interesting to play or to think about, but intimacy will always be more interesting.”
“It Chapter Two” is in theaters now.