Halloween is right around the corner and the horror film It, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name; is currently playing in theaters. We had the opportunity to chat with actors Wyatt Oleff, Finn Wolfhard and Chosen Jacobs about their latest film which has received rave reviews from critics.
The film is one of the highest grossing horror films, and it was recently announced by Deadline that a sequel will be launched in 2019. Below is our interview with some of the kids of Derry, Maine who chat with us about the film and the process of character development.
BGN: Excellent. Hey guys. For those of you who are fans of the books, this is Richie, Stan, and Mike. And I’m so excited to have you guys on. I’m from Black Girl Nerds, so we are all very excited. We are huge fans of the book It, we’ve all seen the 90s special, and I saw your movie last night. Completely blown away. You all give stellar performances. And you all have amazing movies lined up coming out soon. I wanted to ask you guys, there’s so much secrecy kind of around this movie, about what was happening and how Pennywise was gonna come out, and I find that secrecy tends to really bond people. Especially when you’re working in close proximity. What was the bonding experience like? What was it like working on the set? And how hard was it to keep those secrets?
Finn Wolfhard: Hey, this is Finn. So, I think bonding with these guys was really, really easy. They’re really incredible to get along with, and it was really, I mean it was like a dream how fast we all sort of became friends. And our acting coach, Ben Perkins, really helped with that ’cause he made us do like trust exercises, and trust falls and like … You know when you do that, when you think of that it’s like “Oh, it’s an actor thing.”, but like it really does work.
BGN: I see. Wyatt?
Wyatt Oleff: Yeah, I agree with Finn. I definitely think that our acting coach, Ben Perkins, really helped us bond with each other. And you know he’s one of the key components that made us work so well together, but…you know, what Finn said, with the acting exercises, but yeah. I mean, over the summer we just got closer and closer and we learned more and more about each other. It became more than just friends, it felt more like family.
Chosen Jacobs: Oh hi, this is Chosen. The bonding experience was amazing during the shooting of this film. This is my first time shooting with guys my age, so the fact that we’re able to experience the same things at the same time was such a fantastic experience for me. And I feel like that made it so much easier to act like friends on the screen because we didn’t have to act it out like we honestly are best friends. So it was pretty fantastic to be on a film with guys you really would hang with even if you didn’t have to shoot.
BGN: I’m just curious like as you’re going through these, you’re a young dude coming up in a world that’s kind of having scary moments. How did you manage that material and, I guess kind of go back to daily life after shooting these scenes?
Chosen: The way that I managed is just due to the fantastic job that the production and all the actors and director Andy did because it made…they made me very comfortable when I was on set, and the fact that we…the fact that I was friends with all the cast members, it made it so comfortable. I’m like “Yo, you do whatever you need to do to portray the character.” Especially like the bullies, and then that allowed me to be free to act it out because they were such fantastic actors. So that made it so easy for me to try to portray Mike Hanlon’s struggles in the realest way possible. After the shooting of the scenes, I look back on it and I’m very excited for people to see just … Not even the fact that just his difference, but that we were all able to come together despite the differences that we have.
BGN: It’s incredibly moving to watch you guys kind of go through the struggles. I think we see a lot of coming of age stories, but rarely ones that are I think as honest, even though there are killer clowns and ghouls in this one. Emotionally, you guys all hit I think points everyone will be able to identify with. I wanted to ask you Finn, you’ve been doing a whole bunch of horror movies and sci-fi kind of thrillers and things, what draws you to this material?
Finn: Well, I got It and Stranger Things totally on coincidence. I mean I audition for everything, I don’t just ask for horror movies auditions or anything from my agents. But, you know I think why I like horror movies so much, and why I think I like acting in horror movies so much is because it makes you think a lot. It sort of activates your mind, and your skills and sort of how, you know if you’re asking yourself like “Oh, could this happen in real life? Would this happen in real life?”. I think horror movies sort of just make you smarter and activate your brain in such a way.
BGN: Was it all CGI effects in this film? And how were you able to deal with working with either the CGI effects or with the actual person there?
Wyatt: Well, to be honest, I haven’t seen the full movie so I haven’t seen all the CGI that they’ve put in there, so I’m excited to see that. But yeah, I worked with a great actress, her name’s Tatum Lee, and she played Judith and she was such wonderful person. And, you know, she made it actually kind of fun to film those scenes, well, as fun as they can be. Acting with her was quite the experience, you know we kinda talked about how we want to do things. Andy, our director really helped with that sometimes.
Wyatt: Well, kind of new for me, and you know especially on that scale, so I guess it’s a good learning experience for me.
BGN: Okay. Let me see here. Let’s talk about working with Pennywise. Did you guys get to see the full clown? Like makeup and everything?
Finn: Yeah, yeah, yeah, it was all practical.
BGN: What was it like when you got to see it? Do you all see it as a group together for the first time or was it individual?
Chosen: The first time we saw him was as a group but Jack, who plays him, was the first person to actually do the scene. And the first time that we see Bill, which was such a scary and frightening, but exciting moment. At least it was for me, am I right guys?
Wyatt: Yeah, I agree.
Finn: I agree.
Chosen Because, it really made me scared just because he’s terrifying and, you know Bill who plays Pennywise is like 6-foot plus. It made him even more frightening, but then it was exciting ’cause I’m like man this gonna be scary. ‘Cause if I’m scared and I’m just seeing him on a set with cameras. I know when they do movie magic it’s gonna be pretty amazing.
BGN: Okay, then I wanted to ask you guys about working with Andy, who’s kind of a new master of horror. I think people who saw Mama definitely saw the potential, but, me certainly after seeing It, I’m down for whatever movie he does next. He’s great, and I’m curious, horror directors kind of have the reputation for either being very dramatic or kind of caring, and having a very calm set, and I wanted to know what Andy’s demeanor was like on set.
Wyatt: This is Wyatt, and if I could talk for 30 minutes about Andy I wouldn’t even get through explaining half of how amazing he is. I mean, Andy is such a lovely director to work with. He has this vibe that just, you know makes you feel comfortable. And when we were doing scenes he would kinda let us in on what would happen and we got to really bond with him, and explain our ideas for the scene. And it really helped us grow as actors and as friends to Andy. And, yeah like you said I think people view Andy in a new light with this movie because, like you said, people saw he had potential with Mama. And now I think he’s just gonna be one of those famous directors for horror. It sounds weird to say this, but you know I’m really proud of him because he does work hard. He works really hard. We love to consult with him.
Wyatt: And he’s such a lovely guy, so he deserves all of it.
Chosen: Andy is a legend, and now the world will know it too.
BGN: Awesome. Thank you guys so much for your time, I really appreciate it.
Interview by Joelle Monique
This interview was edited for clarity.
It is currently screening in theaters.
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Jamie Broadnax is the creator of the online publication and multimedia space for Black women called Black Girl Nerds. Jamie has appeared on MSNBC's The Melissa Harris-Perry Show and The Grio's Top 100. Her Twitter personality has been recognized by Shonda Rhimes as one of her favorites to follow. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association and executive producer of the Black Girl Nerds Podcast.