Stephen King is one of the only authors who has a fan base as loyal as your average Belieber and his book-bashing army are well known for their impeccable eye for detail, especially when it comes to hunting for his many artfully hidden easter eggs.
With a horde of sticklers for detail to please, casting directors for 2017's new #It were treading perilous ground when they plucked the new Loser's Club members from a bouquet of hopefuls, but they nailed it.
Don't believe me? Check out the descriptions of the characters from King's mammoth horror masterpiece next to the lucky actors who are lined up to be traumatized for life during filming!
The Big Bad
It is almost impossible to imagine a clown you would least like to see popping its foul head out of a storm drain than Tim Curry's iconic version of Pennywise, but Bill Skarsgård's depiction has serious potential.
Not only has director Andrés Muschietti (of Mama fame) borrowed heavily from Curry's turn as the psychotic circus creeper, but 2017's It is seriously loyal to #StephenKing's descriptions in the book.
Pennywise The Clown Played By Bill Skarsgård
Our first introduction to Pennywise happens on page 18 of It, throwing us straight into evil's fetid nest and gripping us with a gloved hand for the thousand or so pages to come:
The clown, Hagarty said, looked like a cross between Ronald McDonald and that old TV clown, Bozo — or so he thought at first. It was the wild tufts of orange hair that brought such comparisons to mind. But later consideration had caused him to think the clown really looked like neither. The smile painted over the white pancake was red, not orange, and the eyes were a weird shiny silver. Contact lenses, perhaps... but a part of him thought then and continued to think that maybe that silver had been the real color of those eyes. He wore a baggy suit with big orange-pompom buttons; on his hands were cartoon gloves.
It doesn't take the most observant person in the world to realise that the passage above could basically be describing the picture of Skarsgård's Pennywise.
Another fetching Pennywise identifying feature is his massive "all the better to eat you with" teeth, which become more prominent when something seriously evil is about to go down:
The clown twisted its head and grinned up at Chris. Chris said he saw its shining silver eyes and its bared teeth — great big teeth, he said. Like the lion in the circus, man,' he said. 'I mean, they were that big.'
You can really see these killer chompers come into their own as Pennywise tempts poor Georgie into the storm drain in the trailer.
One aspect where neither Curry nor Skarsgård's depiction of the clown are totally true to the book is Pennywise's blue tie, which if you think about it probably wasn't too well thought out by King:
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.
I mean, really, how is it meant to sit over those delightful pom pom buttons?
The Loser's Club
The Loser's club might be our heroes, but they sure aren't anyone else's in their fat, bespectacled, stuttering collective youths:
Stan Uris with his big Jew-boy nose, Bill Denbrough who could say nothing but 'Hi-yo, Silver!' without stuttering so badly that it drove you almost dogshit, Beverly Marsh with her bruises and her cigarettes rolled into the sleeve of her blouse, Ben Hanscom who had been so big he looked like a human version of Moby Dick, and Richie Tozier with his thick glasses and his A averages and his wise mouth and his face which just begged to be pounded into new and exciting shapes.
Have the kids' awkward essence been lost through the glamorous lens of Hollywood though?
Bill Denbrough Played By Jaeden Lieberher
Bill is the leader of the gang who, despite his stutter, is the most charismatic and handsome member of the group. Denbrough inspires respect in his peers because of his innate sense of justice and he is also Beverly's crush.
We learn about Bill's appearance in scraps. For example, during a description of how painfully debilitating his stutter (worsened by the death of his brother George) can be, we find out Bill has auburn/red hair:
Bill's schoolmates would look somewhere else while Bill clutched the sides of his desk, his face growing almost as red as his hair, his eyes squeezed into slits as he tried to winch some word out of his stubborn throat.
Later on, when Bill is trying to save his friend Eddie by obtaining an aspirator from the local chemist, we also learn a little more about his appearance, specifically that he has;
Anxious blue eyes.
Although he has a skinny frame, Bill is tall and, according to fellow Loser's Club member Richie Tozier, pretty good looking:
He was the tallest of them, and surely the most handsome.
It is also heavily implied that Bill is pale throughout It, such as in the description below which reveals he is easily sunburned and speckled with freckles:
[...] Baring his narrow chest, the visible rack of his ribs, his sunburned, freckled shoulders.
Ben Hanscom Played By Jeremy Ray Taylor
Ben Hanscom is a lovable, sensitive boy with a thirst for knowledge that he sates with regular trips to his sanctuary, the library. He is raised by a hardworking single mother who has a tendency to express her love through food because she cannot always be there for him in other ways. As a result, Ben is obese and this has a huge impact on his self-esteem.
A lot of the descriptions we get of Ben frame him through the eyes of those who persecute him and give us a stark understanding of how this kind, poetic boy is viewed by others:
Henry watched the fat little prick scutter across the street, his belly bouncing, the cowlick at the back of his head springing back and forth like a goddam Slinky, his ass wiggling like a girl's inside his new blue jeans.
Although Ben is fat, he is "surprisingly light-footed" and athletic with a sharp, active mind:
[...] Three thoughts had gone skyrocketing through Ben's mind — which was every bit as lean and quick as his body was obese.
While we don't get much description in terms of Ben's features, we do learn that he will later become conventionally handsome when he loses the weight and he is by no means an unattractive boy:
Ben grinned at them. When he grinned, there was a ghost of the handsome man he would become in the lines of his face.
Beverly Marsh Played By Sophia Lillis
Beverly is the only female member of the gang and has a thirst for adventure to match all of her male peers. All of the boys have a crush on her at some point thanks to her sparky personality and her kind way of accepting them all for who they are. Despite being viciously abused by her father, Beverly strives to be kind, but when it comes to injustice, she won't hesitate to hurl a rock into a smug, bullying face.
Beverly's main defining feature is her long auburn hair (described by a besotted Ben as "January embers") that she wears in a ponytail and her large greenish eyes:
It was Beverly Marsh, her auburn hair a dazzling cloud around her head and upon her shoulders, her eyes a lovely gray-green. Her sweater, pushed to her elbows, was frayed around the neck and almost as baggy as Ben's sweatshirt.
Like Bill, Beverly is also described as being pale, tall and good-looking:
She nodded, bit her full underlip, a girl of eleven who was tall for her age and simply beautiful.
Despite her poverty, Marsh is described as always endeavouring to be clean, tidy and well-presented in her battered thrift shop clothes:
Eddie was shocked by Beverly's appearance; she was usually so neat and clean, her hair always washed and tied back in a pony-tail. Now she was streaked with what looked like every kind of gluck in the universe. Her eyes were wide and wild. There was a scratch on one cheek. Her jeans were caked with crap and her blouse was torn.
In perhaps one of the biggest departures from the book, Beverly appears to have short, roughly cropped hair in the It trailer as opposed to her long and flowing pony tail.
Richie Tozier Played By Finn Wolfhard
Richie Tozier is a highly intelligent kid with an affinity for zany comedy and a mouth that constantly gets him in trouble with just about everyone. The joker of the pack, Richie often has the gang in hysterics with his repertoire of silly voices and injects an air of scatter-gun optimism into even the most dire situations.
According to King's novel, Tozier is a skinny glasses wearer with an unfortunate set of front teeth:
Tozier was a scrawny kid who wore glasses. Ben thought that without them Tozier probably saw every bit as well as Mr Magoo; his magnified eyes swam behind the thick lenses with an expression of perpetual surprise. He also had huge front teeth that had earned him the nickname Bucky Beaver.
Richie's charm is described as "exhausting" at one point thanks to his irrepressible energy and constant stream of jokes that only he finds funny:
First, ail of Richie's Voices sounded pretty much like Richie Tozier. This was not to say Richie could not be very funny from time to time; he could be. When referring to verbal zingers and loud farts, Richie's terminology was the same: he called it Getting Off A Good One, and he got off Good Ones of both types frequently . . . usually in inappropriate company, however. Second, when Richie did ventriloquism, his lips moved. Not just a little, on the 'p' — and 'b' — sounds, but a lot, and on all the sounds. Third, when Richie said he was going to throw his voice, it usually didn't go very far. Most of his friends were too kind — or too bemused with Richie's sometimes enchanting, often exhausting charm — to mention these little failings to him.
Stanley Uris Played By Wyatt Oleff
Stan Uris is a sensible, patient boy with a passion for birdwatching and a cool-head in even the most heated situations. He is serious and focused and although he doesn't have much of a sense of humor, the jokes he finds funny are often "strange." Known for being quiet and observant, he is persecuted by the local thugs for being Jewish.
Stanley Uris is described as having a "big Jew-boy nose" and "hot brown eyes," but his main defining feature is his neat, grown up appearance:
It was Stanley Uris. As always he looked small, slim, and preternaturally neat — much too neat for a kid who was just barely eleven. In his white shirt, neatly tucked into his fresh jeans all the way around, his hair combed, the toes of his high-top Keds spotlessly clean, he looked instead like the world's smallest adult.
Mike Hanlon Played By Chosen Jacobs
Mike is the last kid to join The Losers' Club, but is fully accepted into the fold by the other kids, who are normally wary of newcomers. Mike lives on a farm outside the city with his parents and has inherited a deep love of local history from his father. He is viciously bullied by the deeply racist Henry Bowers for the color of his skin.
When the other kids initially meet Mike, they are all curious about the fact that he is the only African-American among them, understanding that he is persecuted against just like them in their own individual ways. As a result, they recognise him as one of them:
One by one they turned to look at Mike, Mike with his dark skin. They looked at him carefully, cautiously, thoughtfully. Mike had felt such curiosity before — there had not been a time in his life when he had not felt it — and he looked back candidly enough. Bill looked from Mike to Richie. Richie met his eyes. And Bill seemed almost to hear the click — some final part fitting neatly into a machine of unknown intent.
We don't get an enormous amount of description about Mike apart from the fact that he is "dark-skinned" and athletic:
Mike was slim and well built, taller than Stan Uris but not quite as tall as Bill Denbrough. He was fast and agile, and that had saved him from several beatings at Henry's hands.
Eddie Kaspbrak Played By Jack Dylan Grazer
Eddie is a sickly, skinny child who is plagued by "asthma," an affliction that is later revealed has been entirely fabricated by his over-protective mother and triggered in Eddie psychologically through a placebo inhaler. When he learns his inhaler is only "mind-medicine," Eddie becomes more bold and stands up to his mother so he can continue to spend time with the people he feels the bravest with; his friends.
Eddie's defining features are a dorky "flat-top haircut," a "thin face" and "pallid skin." He has a generally weak and sickly appearance:
Eddie was staggering to his feet, his face a deadly pale except for the bruised-looking patches under his eyes and traced just below his cheekbones. His thin chest was hitching up and down in quick, shallow spasms.
The Bowers Gang
Often almost as terrifying as Pennywise himself, the Bowers Gang are a chaotic force of cruelty, malice and sadism that prey upon the Losers' Club with a ruthless fury.
Henry Bowers Played By Nicholas Hamilton
- Henry Bowers is pictured centre in the image above
Henry Bowers is the leader of the Bowers Gang (duh!) who leads his school boy army with an iron fist. Brimming with malice for almost everyone and everything, Henry's sadism often shocks the other kids in his thrall, but they are often too terrified to stand up to him. Raised by a mentally ill veteran father who beats him, Henry's home situation is less than ideal and this lack of guidance has given him no concept of pushing things too far in his quest to torment others.
As you might expect, Henry is an intimidating physical presence whose cold "black eyes" are a key feature:
Henry was a big boy even for twelve. His arms and legs were thick with farm-muscle.
He has heavily gelled hair that he likes to groom forward into a pointed floppy fringe, a detail that has been updated in the 2017 version of the movie judging by the set photos:
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.
Patrick Hocksetter Played By Owen Teague
- Patrick is pictured on the left in the image above (see the subheading "Henry Bowers")
Probably the most stomach-turning character in Stephen King's It, Patrick is a psychopath who enjoys torturing animals, sometimes for sexual gratification. He has also been known to molest girls and seems mentally ill, believing that he is the only "real" being.
Despite being quite a minor character, Hocksetter receives one of the most comprehensive physical descriptions in the book, probably because he is just so unbelievably vile:
Behind Henry and on his left was Patrick Hockstetter, a genuinely spooky kid. Eddie hadn't ever seen him with anyone else until today. He was just enough overweight so that his belly always hung slightly over his belt, which had a Red Ryder buckle. His face was perfectly round, and usually as pale as cream. Now he had a slight sunburn. It was heaviest on his nose, which was peeling, but it spread out toward either cheek like wings. In school, Patrick liked to kill flies with his green plastic SkoolTime ruler and put them in his pencil-box. Sometimes he would show his fly collection to some new kid in the playyard at recess, his heavy lips smiling, his gray-green eyes sober and thoughtful.
Victor "Vic" Criss Played By Logan Thompson
- Victor Criss is pictured centre in the image above
Victor Criss is the smartest member of the Bowers gang and, because of this, he is basically seen as second in command. More defined by morals than the others, Criss is the only person to notice that Henry is becoming increasingly unhinged.
One of the best descriptions we get of Vic is as follows:
It was Victor Criss, his hair combed back in an Elvis pompadour and gleaming with Brylcreem. He went down the steps and along the walk to the front gate, hands in the pockets of his jeans, shirt-collar turned up hood-style, cleats on his engineer boots dragging and tapping.
Reginald 'Belch' Huggins Played By Jake Sim
- Belch is pictured right in the picture above (see the subheading "Victor Criss")
Belch, named for his ability to belch on command, is another one of the Bowers' henchmen. He is a big, strong boy with a talent for baseball, but his size countered with his short temper and violent outbursts make him a dangerous individual.
One of Stephen King's main focuses when it comes to describing Belch is in his "remarkable" size and "mean temperament:"
Belch had been big and not really fat, Eddie remembered now, but it was as if God had never really intended for a boy of twelve to attain such remarkable size; if he had not died that summer, he might have grown to six-six or better, and might have learned along the way how to maneuver his outsized body through a world of smaller denizens. He might even, Eddie thought, have learned gentleness. But at twelve he had been both clumsy and mean, not retarded but almost seeming so because all his body's actions seemed so amazingly graceless and lunging. He had none of Stanley's built-in rhythms; it was as if Belch's body did not talk to his brain at all but existed in its own cosmos of slow thunder.
Which actor from the new It movie do you think fits the book description the best?