Eddie and the Losers: Exclusive Interview with IT: CHAPTER TWO’s James Ransone

Though 40-year-old actor James Ransone has made a healthy living working in theater, TV (most memorably on The Wire) and in film (from independent winners like Tangerine to the Sinister duo), nothing would prepare him for his role in director Andy Muschietti’s IT Chapter Two.

The Maryland-born Ransone had to pinch himself when cast in the sequel to 2017’s IT, the highest-grossing horror film of all time that finally did justice to author Stephen King’s classic 1986 novel. In the new film, Ransone plays the adult version of Eddie Kaspbrak, one of seven teen misfits who thought they had defeated a monstrous clown entity named Pennywise 27 years ago. In the following exclusive interview, Ransone discusses the making of the year’s most anticipated horror film.

DREAD CENTRAL: The first IT did Marvel movie-style box office. Why did it connect with audiences in such a big way?

JAMES RANSONE: Well, the book was such a big hit in the late ’80s, early ’90s, and then the miniseries was such a big hit. Then Andy made an action adventure movie that’s basically Stand by Me, but with a supernatural element that everybody can relate to. Stephen King just has this natural ability to tap into these universal myths that people really resonate with. And it doesn’t really matter the era in which those stories are told because everyone can relate to the story on some level. Plus, we’ve all been chased by a space clown [laughs].

DC: IT remains King’s favorite book of everything he’s written, and the same goes for many of his readers. Why do you think that is?

JR: If you think about it, he wrote [The Body, which became the movie] Stand by Me. And IT is kind of the same story except he gets into a deeper metaphysical element of it. Maybe he was working toward this the whole time, maybe he felt like IT was his high watermark as an author.

DC: How did you first get attached to the sequel?

JR: I had auditioned for a different role in the first movie in 2017. I won’t tell you what role, but Andy can tell you if you get a hold of him [laughs]. Then what ended up happening was, he went off and shot the first movie with those kids. Then my brother saw the first one and said, “Oh, you look a lot like this kid in the movie. It’s really weird.” And right around preproduction, I had some weird feeling that they were gonna call me and have me come in for that role. And they did. It’s really strange. I just got a feeling that Andy was going to call me about it.

DC: What kind of bonding experience did you go through with actor Jack Dylan Grazer, who played the young Eddie?

JR: Well, the production did this big speed dating thing where they made all of the adults sit down with their childhood counterparts. They thought it was a good idea, but it was just kind of weird and awkward. I’m a middle-aged man talking to a teenager, and they’re like, “All right, now bond!” And, I’m like, “Well…” It was good, though. Jack’s great; a great, sweet kid. His mom is very kind, too. He’s such a good actor and so talented. His choices that he made for the first one just played to my three strengths that I have as an actor anyway. I got really lucky.

DC: Where did you draw from the most, the first film or the book?

JR: The first film. I’m not a dummy. I know what people liked about that movie and they liked those kids playing those roles. I thought, “All I gotta do is do my best impression of Jack Dylan Grazer and we’ll be fine.”

DC: Was there anything specifically you wanted to carry over from Grazer’s performance? Any mannerisms, tics or whatever?

JR: He has this weird thing that he does where he lifts his hand up to his face and bisects it. He’ll hold it and start to quiver a little bit when he gets really angry. And Andy pointed that out to me. So, Andy would ask me to put the hand in every now and then. Other than that, I was just trying to match Jack’s speed and his intensity.

DC: Were you surprised that the kids were so intertwined in the new movie?

JR: Well, again, no one’s stupid and everybody loved those kids so much. They had to come back. I always felt that way about the miniseries and the book is that people like the kids’ part more. It’s the more exciting part of the book because children have potential, right? They have their future in front of them. It’s more exciting to watch. Watching a bunch of middle-aged people with serious problems and midlife crises, it’s a little bit more morose for an audience. You needed to have the kids in there, you had to.

DC: Was any of the footage of the kids in Part Two shot during the first production, or were they all brought back?

JR: They were all brought back, and they actually grew a lot. Jack Dylan Grazer’s like 6 foot three and 250 pounds now. But they did use a little bit of CGI to de-age their faces.

DC: What kind of bonding experience did you have with the other adult actors?

JR: We didn’t do anything like that much. I mean, we hung out. It’s the same as any other movie that you work on. Because my character and Bill [Hader’s] character are the comedic relief, we would stand around together and with Isaiah Mustafa, who shared a very similar sense of humor to us. By the way, Isaiah is the MVP of this movie, because he’s so funny and he’s so talented. He’s got to sell all that exposition, which is really hard to do. It’s really difficult. Between takes, we would stand around watching stupid YouTube videos and cracking jokes like you would with any of your idiot friends from high school.

DC: Of all the members of the Losers Club, Eddie gets the most abuse from Pennywise this time. Was that a good thing or a bad thing as an actor?

JR: Yeah, he does. As an actor, I just get more annoyed. “I’m going to be covered in puke for two days?!” That’s where I get bummed out because I know it is going to take forever.

DC: What was it like shooting that vomit scene with the leper?

JR: That was the last scene that I filmed on the movie, my final day. The bummer was me wrapping picture by getting puked on. I literally left the next morning. In retrospect, I felt like they did that purposefully. That was just Andy being a jerk to me [laughs].

DC: The scene with the adult Bowers was also very intense. What do you remember about that fight?

JR: What I remember about the fight was that was the first day Stephen King was on set. I didn’t see him, but I knew he was at the monitor watching my performance and that freaked me out more than anything.

DC: Did King comment on your characterization at all?

JR: He did. I did not hear it. I’m sure he gave Andy a bunch of notes. Maybe, “Eddie would never do that before.” [Laughs] No, I didn’t hear anything.

DC: The last 30 minutes of the movie are real edge-of-your-seat stuff. Talk about shooting the spectacular finale.

JR: That was a little bit challenging to do because the pieces of the set were practical. They were real. It was really hard because you’re in the dark for about 16 to 18 hours a day with these strobe lights firing at different intervals. I remember coming outside at different times and not knowing if it was 2:00 am or 2:00 pm. Imagine going to a funhouse at the beach and it’s over in 10 or 15 minutes. And you come out and say, “Oh, that was fun!” Now imagine being stuck in there for 15 hours a day and having no idea what time it is. You lose your mind a little bit.

DC: What kind of direction were you given to fill in for all the green screen?

JR: When you don’t have the green screen, you don’t need that much direction. Because you can see it, right? You’re using a lot of practical elements, and that’s so much more fun as an actor. The direction becomes more just literally about the performance instead of the director saying, “There’s a big alien here! Now look this way! Now look up more! Now jump!”

DC: After a lot of TV work and indie films, this is your first major role in a big blockbuster event movie. How did it feel and compare?

JR: It feels like winning the lottery. [Director] Sean Baker shot Tangerine in a donut shop that they didn’t even close down while we were shooting [laughs].

DC: Do you enjoy making and watching horror films?

JR: Yes, I do. I don’t really enjoy making them because they’re more boring than you think because the scares are made in the edit room. It’s very disappointing to shoot on set because you’re literally walking around the house very slowly, and then they just yell, “Cut!” And then that’s it. So, the scares are made in the edit room. But I do actually really enjoy watching horror movies a great deal and not just every horror movie. A lot of it is dependent on the director. I’m a big John Carpenter fan. I’m a huge Sam Raimi fan.

DC: Has there been any talk of a Sinister 3?

JR: I don’t think Sinister 2 made enough money. I don’t think it was loved enough to merit a Sinister 3. I know that Blumhouse is kicking around an idea for a TV show, but I haven’t heard anything about it.

DC: What’s next for you?

JR: No idea. Absolutely no idea. Right now, I’m just working on paternity leave. I had a kid, and I like hanging out with my kid.

DC: Are you going to see IT Chapter Two with an audience?

JR: I haven’t seen the movie because I can’t watch myself. I have a really hard time watching myself. I can’t do it. It used to be easy to watch myself when I was younger because I thought that I would get taller or better looking later, and it never happened. I ran out of road [laughs].

The evil clown Pennywise returns 27 years later to torment the grown-up members of the Losers’ Club.



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