SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for IT Chapter Two. If you have not yet seen the film, proceed at your own risk.
Andy Muschietti’s IT Chapter Two is first and foremost a loving and faithful adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, consistently bringing to life some of the best moments from the source material with all of the specific details in place. That being said, there are still some notable deviations and additions to the story as well, and none are as significant as what’s revealed about everyone’s favorite motor-mouth, Richie Tozier. It’s a note played subtly over the course of the film, but the film establishes that the character is gay.
In the book, Richie as an adult is single and has a number of failed relationships with women in his past, but his sexuality isn’t really something that’s emphasized in any single way (beyond his penchant for telling dirty jokes). Because of this, it’s a surprise development that comes together in IT: Chapter Two – first teased by Bill Skarsgard’s Pennywise as he morphs the town square’s Paul Bunyan statue into a living nightmare – but it ultimately very much fits into the biggest theme of the movie: fear.
The reason Pennywise knows that Richie is gay is because having his sexuality revealed to the world terrifies him. He’s a popular stand-up comedian, and even in 2016 such news could damage his career. It was because this was taken into consideration that it wound up becoming a part of the character’s arc in IT Chapter Two, as I learned sitting down with director Andy Muschietti late last month during the film’s domestic press day in Los Angeles. Discussing how it became a part of the project, the filmmaker said,
It's part of the exploration of what the fears of these characters as adults are. And even though it's a departure from the book, I thought it was relevant, and was part of the things that an adult can be scared of. This movie has a more mature perspective than the first one, which is seen through the eyes of the kids. So, you know, the fear of exposure, someone that has been sort of hiding his sexual identity because of fear of humiliation. And it's definitely connected to an event that happened in his childhood, a traumatic event. I thought it was relevant and valid.
I also brought up the subject during my interview with Bill Hader on the same day, given that he plays out the majority of the revelation in his side of the role shared with Finn Wolfhard. He was a bit more hesitant to discuss the topic because of spoilers, but he noted that it was something that he and Andy Muschietti talked about in the development of the character, agreeing that it was something that they both wanted to commit to in this portrayal of Richie.
Based on Bill Hader’s comments, apparently it wasn’t something that really solidified until the movie was starting production up in Toronto, Canada, but it obviously ultimately gives a lot of depth to the character. It’s a great thing, too, as Hader proves more than up for the task of playing with that weight, and delivers the best performance in IT Chapter Two.
It’s not just about the emotional drama, though, as alluded to earlier. The subject of sex and sexuality is deeply embedded in Richie’s sense of humor, and understanding that the character is gay does a lot to change your perspective on that material. In discussion with Andy Muschietti, I noted that all of the inappropriate jokes act as a defense mechanism, and the director not only agreed, but added,
His humor, and also he builds a persona around him that is not only humor, but also part of his humor - he's talking about jokes about sex and his relationship with women. It's all part of a construction.
You can watch Andy Muschietti discuss the decision to make Richie gay in IT Chapter Two by clicking play on the video below:
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the IT Chapter Two spoiler content that we’re going to have for you in the next few days here on CinemaBlend, as we’re sure a lot of you are aching to talk about this movie in all aspects, and so are we. This film is opening all around the globe this weekend, and there’s a lot to discuss. We’ll have more interviews and features posting very soon, so stay tuned!