Pennywise in It: Chapter Two
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Andy Muschietti added real-life detail to It Chapter Two's 'essential' hate crime scene

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Aug 22, 2019

We already knew that It Chapter Two would bring one of the Stephen King novel's darkest moments to the screen for the first time. Now, director Andy Muschietti is shedding some light and why the scene was so important to his adaptation, as well as a key detail he added from a real-life crime. 

King's original novel is divided into two time periods 27 years apart. Chapter Two will bring the second era (present day in the film, the 1980s in the book) to the big screen, and it will also give us the key moment from the novel that marked Pennywise's re-emergence after his nearly three-decade period of hibernation. In the novel, Pennywise re-appears after a young gay man named Adrian Mellon is severely beaten and thrown off a bridge by three bigoted men shortly after leaving Derry's annual carnival with his boyfriend. They don't actually kill Mellon, but his body is found mutilated, and when the men are arrested one of them claims they saw a clown, which Mellon's boyfriend also claims to have seen. 

The scene is important in the novel because it marks Pennywise's return, but also because the hate crime nature of the attack on Mellon helps to illustrate King's idea that all the hatred and corruption evident in Derry (which also appears in the form of violent racism) is amplified by It's presence in the town. The scene was absent from the 1990 miniseries based on the novel, but Muschietti's film will adapt it, with Xavier Dolan appearing in the role of Mellon. 

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Muschietti explained why bringing the scene to life was so important to him. 

“It was TV and they didn’t have the possibility of making a Rated R [movie] or anything,” he said, referring to the miniseries. “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.”

Muschietti goes on to describe how Mellon's death in the novel was influenced by the real-life murder of Charlie Howard, a gay man who was killed by a group of teenagers in Maine in 1984. According to Muschietti, Howard's real life attack "happened almost exactly" like Mellon's in King's novel, and he decided to continue that inspiration in the film. In fact, the real crime had such an impact on Muschietti that he included a key detail about Howard's murder that even King didn't work into his narrative.

“He was asthmatic, so that made things really worse," Muschietti said. "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.”

A big part of what made IT so effective the first time around is Muschietti's attention to detail. By adding yet another level of difficulty to Mellon's death scene, he's continuing that tradition, and ratcheting up the terror even more. We can't wait to see how this scene finally unfolds on the big screen, if we can get through it without throwing popcorn all over everyone.

It Chapter Two arrives September 6.

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