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Stephen King delves deep into the psyches
and lives of even his most marginal characters, which can make adaptations of his stories
into a visual medium pretty tricky. His magnum opus, It, has been brought to both
TV and the big screen. How do the casts stack up? Float on down and see. Which came first: the fear of clowns, or Stephen
King’s monstrous Pennywise? At this point it almost doesn’t matter, since
the two are so inextricably linked in the global consciousness and the nightmares of
children and adults alike. During his first encounter with Georgie Denbrough
in the sewer in 1957, Pennywise has yellow eyes that turn blue as he talks. King writes, “The face of the clown in the stormdrain was
white, there were funny tufts of red hair on either side of his bald head, and there
was a big clown-like smile painted over his mouth. If George had been inhabiting a later year,
he would have surely thought of Ronald McDonald.” King goes further: “He was wearing a baggy silk suit with great
big orange buttons. A bright tie, electric-blue, flopped down
his front, and on his hands were big white gloves, like the kind Mickey Mouse and Donald
Duck always wore.” When Ben Hanscom sees the clown shortly after,
he is also wearing a “floppy yellow bow-tie” and notices that “the clown cast no shadow.” 25 years later, when Pennywise attacks Adrian
Mellon under the bridge, King reiterates earlier Bozo and Ronald McDonald comparisons, but
adds that “later consideration had caused him to think the clown really looked like
neither.” King also describes “great big teeth” like
those of a circus lion. Those definitely made it into the films. Also known as “Big Bill” and “Stuttering Bill,”
even to his friends, the unofficial leader of the Losers Club is described not with the
dark brown hair he has in the film, but as having bright red hair and blue eyes. After the first attack on Pennywise in the
house on Neibolt Street, Bill gives his shirt to Beverly. King writes that, when shirtless, Bill had
“a narrow chest, the visible track of his ribs, [and] sunburned freckled shoulders.” Even when they’re young, Richie Tozier muses
that John F. Kennedy reminds him of Bill. Older Bill, as depicted in his author photo
on the back of one of his novels, is described as “a bald man wearing glasses.” King writes that “he is tall, and has a certain
presence.” Bill is “already balding, already inclining
a bit toward fat. He speaks slowly in company, and at times
seems nearly inarticulate.” Another description reads: “His eyes, magnified by the lenses of his
glasses, looked thoughtful.” That part lines up with how older Bill appears
in the 1990 It miniseries, played by Richard Thomas. But what doesn’t fit is, quote, “that red,
fine hair that he had begun to lose when he was only a college sophomore.” Thomas’ version of the character not only
has hair, but enough of it to pull back into a ponytail. While Pennywise the Clown had many, many victims
detailed in the pages of King’s It, the first we properly meet is Bill’s little brother
Georgie. His physical description is notably sparse
– all we know at first is that Georgie is “a small boy in a yellow slicker and red galoshes,”
and he is just six years old. Much later in the story, as Pennywise’s campaign
of terror begins ramping up against the Losers in earnest, King describes Georgie in more
detail from a family photo album. “In [the picture] George was wearing a crew-neck
shirt. His fly-away hair was slicked down with water. He was grinning, revealing two empty slots
in which new teeth would never grow.” As Pennywise uses Georgie’s ghost to taunt
Bill, he appears with his yellow slicker covered in blood, as well as his arm missing. Both movie adaptations of It end up faithfully
portraying Bill’s little brother, which was easy to do since he’s described so ambiguously. Like Bill, Beverly has bright red hair that
King’s novel describes as auburn, coppery, and deep red, sometimes with blonde highlights,
the “dim Irish fire of her hair.” As a young girl her hair was shoulder length,
and she wore it pulled back in a ponytail most of the time. Beverly has, quote, “gray-blue eyes, naturally
red lips, [and] creamy unblemished child’s skin,” with “a tiny spray of freckles across
her nose.” As a child, her wardrobe is described as cheap
sweaters, penny loafers, and ill-fitting tartan skirts that “probably came from the Salvation
Army thrift-box.” Beverly often has huge bruises on her face
and arms – the signature of her father’s abusive handiwork. As an adult, Beverly is described as a “gorgeous
woman” with a slim but well-endowed figure. She’s grown her red hair down to her waist
and her fingernails are “kept neat but brutally short.” Shades of these descriptors are evident in
all of Beverly’s portrayals on screen, except for the short nails. As a young man, Mike Hanlon is described as
“slim and well built” as well as “fast and agile,” factors that had saved him from several
beatings at Henry Bowers’ hands. Mike has a “tight cap of hair,” and often
wears “corduroys, a tee-shirt, and black high-topped Keds.” Bill’s assessment of Mike when he returns
to Derry reveals the extended trauma Mike has experienced by remaining in the haunted
town. “[Bill] remembered a boy who had been about
five feet three, trim, and agile. Before him was a man who stood about five-seven. He was skinny. His clothes seemed to hang on him. And the lines in his face said he was on the
darker side of forty instead of only thirty-eight or so.” Mike also wears glasses as an adult, and he
has a scar across his chest from when the werewolf form of Pennywise scratched him at
Neibolt Street. His portrayal on screen in the 1990 miniseries
is truer to the book than the Muschietti movies, where Chapter One gives much of his motivation
to Ben Hanscom and Chapter Two has him hit harder by the trauma of his youth. As a child, Ben Hanscom was described as larger
than any of the It adaptations have shown. King’s detailed description paints him as
“an eleven-year-old kid with a can roughly the size of New Mexico.” The boys at school bully him for his weight,
and King writes that Ben had four baggy sweatshirts in which to drown his 210-pound body; one
brown, one green, and two blue. Older Ben couldn’t be more the opposite of
his younger self. King writes that Ben is “lanky, sunburned,
dressed in a chambray shirt, faded jeans, and a pair of scuffed engineer boots,” with
“faint squint lines around the corners of his eyes, but nowhere else.” Basically, somewhere between Clint Eastwood
and a Wrangler commercial. “Wrangler, the authentic Western jeans.” In contrast to his fellow Losers who wear
the psychological tolls of their trauma on their faces, Ben looks “perhaps ten years
younger than his actual age, which was 38.” When the grown-up Losers meet in Derry for
dinner, King describes: “Ben had gotten thin. [His] clothes clung to a body which was slim
and narrow-hipped. He wore a bracelet with heavy links on one
wrist – not gold links but copper ones.” Jay Ryan as older Ben in Chapter Two fits
this bill far more than John Ritter did in the 1990 miniseries. “Any spare change, mister?” King’s descriptions of young Stanley don’t
give even a small hint as to how tragically his story will end. If anything, he initially seems like one of
the most likely characters to make it through the battle with Pennywise. King writes, “As always he looked small, slim, and preternaturally
neat – much too neat for a kid who was barely eleven. […] He looked instead like the world’s smallest
adult. Then he smiled, and the illusion was broken.” Stan often wears a slicker, and carries his
bird book and binoculars with him. In the brief time we have with older Stan
before he takes his last bath, his wife describes him as “ropy with muscle” with “a hipshot
way of walking, a taste for bell-bottomed jeans on his days off, and the last ghosts
of adolescent acne still on his face.” He keeps his black hair short and, like many
of the other Losers, wears glasses as an adult. There are shades of this version in Andy Bean’s
Stanley in It: Chapter Two, but almost none at all in the 1990 miniseries. Like Georgie Denbrough, the physical description
of Richie Tozier is surprisingly bare in the It novel, considering he’s one of the key
seven characters. King writes, “Tozier was a scrawny kid who wore glasses. […] His magnified eyes swam behind the thick
lenses with an expression of perpetual surprise. He also had huge front teeth that earned him
the nickname Bucky Beaver.” Even older Ritchie only reflects on his appearance
about his younger self when he looks in the mirror: “He saw a boy who wore glasses, a thin boy
with a pale face that had somehow seemed to scream Hit me! Go on and hit me! … Here are my eyes so blue and magnified
behind these hateful, hateful glasses, these horn-rimmed specs one bow of which is held
on with adhesive tape.” Finn Wolfhard’s glasses in It: Chapter 1 look
a lot like that description, except for the little detail of the tape holding them together
– a crucial reminder of exactly how much he suffers at the hands of Henry Bowers. Older Richie trades his glasses for contacts,
until he returns to Derry and Pennywise starts messing with his eyes. But by then he’s no longer the odd duck out
of the Losers Club with specs; most of the other Losers wear glasses too. Thanks to his mother’s domineering attitude
that constantly has Eddie in and out of the emergency room, the young boy’s face is described
as “small and pinched and worried – an old man’s face.” Aging doesn’t do Eddie many favors at all. King describes adult Eddie as: “…a short man with a timid, rabbity sort
of face. Most of his hair was gone; what was left grew
in listless, piebald patches […] there was a little snow on Eddie’s mountain already.” When they see each other again as grown-ups,
Big Bill’s assessment of Eddie is just as harsh. “Eddie… had grown up to look quite a little
bit like Anthony Perkins. […] His hair was short, worn in an out-of-date
style that had been known as Ivy League in the late fifties and early sixties. He was wearing a loud checked sportcoat […] but
the watch on one wrist was Patek Philippe, and the ring on the little finger of his right
hand was a ruby. The stone was too hugely vulgar and too ostentatious
to be anything but real.” In short, Eddie on screen has never looked
much like the character on the page. Pennywise was not the Losers’ only nemesis. That unfortunate honor also goes to Henry
Bowers, about whom King writes, “Henry was a big boy even for twelve. His arms and legs were thick with farm muscle. […] Henry put in at least thirty hours a
week hoeing, weeding, planting, digging rocks, cutting wood, and reaping.” He continues: “Henry’s hair was cut in an angry-looking
flattop short enough for the white of his scalp to show through. He Butch-Waxed the front with a tube he always
carried in the hip pocket of his jeans, and as a result the hair just above his forehead
looked like the teeth of an oncoming power-mower.” Interestingly, Bowers typically wears “a pink
motorcycle jacket with an eagle on the back” – a pink jacket that nobody ever mentions
because the one person who did got beat so badly Henry put him in the hospital. Henry has black eyes that sparkle, especially
when committing violence. “I’ll kill you all.” “Get some new material, champ.” Years later, after spending most of his adult
life in a psychiatric hospital, Bowers had put on weight, and his skin had, quote, “an
unhealthy tallowy hue; sagging.” In the 1990 adaptation, Henry’s hair has turned
white from the trauma of encountering Pennywise. But in the Muschietti adaptations, older Henry
does resemble the description in King’s novel. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Looper videos about your favorite
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16 thoughts on “How The Cast Of The It Movies Should Really Look

  1. It (2017) nailed the characters for me. Exactly what I imagined in my head. Also quickly became one of my favorite movies.

  2. I like how Stephen King makes them wear their age and trama on their faces or body, in some way. The movies, well for the most part, goes the usual Hollywood route. In other words, a lot of them look to beautiful to be traumatized by Pennywise.

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