'It: Chapter Two' Director Andy Muschietti On His "Definitive" Cut Of The 'It' Saga, Designing Creepy Creatures, And More [Spoiler Interview]

After breaking out with his low-budget horror film Mama in 2013, director Andy Muschietti rocketed to the big time by directing 2017's It, which adapted the child-centric storyline in Stephen King's sprawling 1986 novel. That film was a box office juggernaut, and now he's back with It: Chapter Two, a sequel that picks up 27 years after the original and sees the Losers' Club reunite in Derry, Maine to battle Pennywise (Bill Skarsgärd) once again.

I spoke with Muschietti about his rumored supercut that would combine the two films, the new footage he would add to that, his intention behind some of this movie's creepiest creatures, putting his own touch on King's source material, and much more.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

It Chapter 2 Spoilers with Andy Muschietti

Congratulations on the movie.

Thanks, did you enjoy it?

I did. I'm a huge fan of the book and I know that you are too, and my first question is, how do you distinguish between moments of this movie that need to be adapted directly and areas where you have the freedom to put your own touches on it?

I identified what makes a good film experience or not, because it's basically adapting to a different language. So we took the pieces of the story that actually can be translated and there's a space for new events that basically turn the screws of tension a little more, and make all the events more consequential. So there was a big space for creating those events. When you read the book, all that section happens in a longer time, it's not necessarily consequential even though there's a clear goal. But it's also interrupted by flashbacks that last for chapters and interludes from Mike, so when you translate it to a film experience, you basically make everything consequential, make those adjustments so it's an escalation, and crank up the tension. That's the criteria, basically.

The creature designs seem to be an area where you can inject some of your own twisted imagery. For those aspects, are you trying to capture imagery that disturbs you personally?

You couldn't say it better. Yeah. Absolutely. It all comes from the inside. I have to design creatures that would scare me if I saw the for the first time.

I think the bug with a baby's head in the Jade of the Orient sequence is going to mess up some kids who see this movie a few years earlier than they should.

I know, I know. The baby bug is not something that you see in the book. It's like a weird hybrid of imagination that's pretty cool and disturbing, because it's a horrible blend. It taps a little bit into the fact that nobody had babies, so it's something that's wedged in there, a theme. None of them had babies. Why? Because they had to stay children to access the power of belief. So I tossed the baby face on the bug, and it's so disturbing. It doesn't really need an explanation, because Pennywise is trying to generate chaos and fear. So I kept the eyeball that I really liked from the book, but then there's a bat wing (laughs), that doesn't need further explanation because it's so fucking creepy. And then the floating heads of the kids that are still singing this Chinese restaurant tune. It's chaos more than anything.

Tell me about the scene with Bill having his vision, seeing the origins of It. That stuff is pretty wild in the novel – how did you go about creating that scene visually?

One of the events in the original book is this psychoactive trip the kids have when they go to the smoke house. But there wasn't really a place in the first movie to put it, starting with the fact that the first movie was – well, we had budget limitations and wanted to make a contained movie. I wanted to put the smoke house in the first one, but I couldn't do it. But because it's an event that I think people really remember, that vision of It coming to Earth for the first time millions of years go, sort of in the shape of an asteroid crashing to Earth.

So we managed to find a place for that, and the whole Ritual of Chud was, the function of it was giving Mike something to lie about. Because Mike ultimately wants to use the only weapon that the Losers Club has, which is the power of belief. These characters are not children anymore, so they don't have that. They don't have the imagination or the innocence to believe in things that don't exist. So he lies to them (laughs), invokes this thing that is basically mythological, that apparently worked before in the past, but it's bullshit. It's something that actually never worked. But it doesn't matter, because if you believe, it will work. The piece of information that Mike has from the first movie – many people don't remember this, but when they're confronting Pennywise and Bill is holding this stun bolt gun that isn't loaded, and all the kids think there's a load there, and the only one that doesn't is Mike. He's like, 'It's unloaded, it's unloaded!' and all the kids are like, 'Kill it, kill it, kill it!' When Bill fires, they draw a big hole on Pennywise's face. That was an indication for Mike that the power of unified belief is a weapon. After years and years of doing research, he comes to a dead end, he notices that there's nothing...except for the element, which is belief. Pennywise uses that as a weapon, because he makes kids believe. But the truth is, it's a weapon that can be turned against him.

The Adrian Mellon scene is one of the most vicious things in the entire movie, and while a lot of the film's violence is heightened, the violence inflicted on him is sadly something that still happens regularly in real life. I've heard you say that that's why it was important to include, but were you ever concerned with the idea of portraying that realistic type of violence?

No, I think it had to be realistic to show that the brutality of It is something that comes from human perversion, from human cruelty, and I didn't want to hold back on that. Even Stephen King, when he included this in his story, it's because it happened in his town. The murder of Charlie Howard in 1984. He was already making a story about the cruelty of humans in a small American town. It was very important for him, and very important for me, also. I think it's relevant to a time when these things are still happening, you know?

Yes. One of the things that is so present throughout the novel and the first movie is how the town of Derry has a sickness, almost like an infection because of It's presence. Aside from the Adrian sequence, that element of the story doesn't really come into play very much in Chapter Two. Were there additional scenes you shot that continued that thread for this movie?

Of adults being evil?

Yeah, and the town itself.

Well, it's established in the first one. I had a movie that was four hours, my first cut, so I had to basically lift some things that were secondary to the main plot. I think people that have the first movie fresh, they already have a feeling of how adults are. In fact, in the second movie you can still feel – you go back to a flashback with Beverly where we see her dad and his twisted way in which he abuses her. We learn a little more about it. We know where that comes from, spraying perfume on her, trying to recreate his dead wife.

You mentioned your first cut was four hours. Was that just an assembly cut, or was that actually something that you would have been happy with audiences watching?

No, no, not at all. That was an editorial cut, which is the thing you see when you finish shooting. So as you're shooting, your editor is sort of assembling the movie with all the things that you shot, basically, all the scenes unaltered. That was four hours. After that, I started my director's cut, which was three hours and twenty-five minutes. It's tighter, I had the scenes the way I wanted them. But then, of course, 3:25, even though we did a test screening with that version that had a surprisingly high score, which is 82, that's definitely a tribute to the audience's love for the first one. But there were opportunities there to trim it, to refine it into a better film experience for the audience. And that's what we did.

There have been lots of stories about a potential supercut, and while I know that hasn't been confirmed yet, could you tell me about some of the new material you would want to include if that ends up happening?

Well, I can't talk about it because I want to keep it under wraps a little bit. But one of them is something from the book, and the other is a thing that is new. It's related to a resolution of the perpetrators of Adrian Mellon's beating.

Oh, OK. I was wondering about that.

Bringing some justice.

If you had your way, would that supercut version be something people could watch in a theater, or would that be designed specifically for a home video release?

It feels more like a home video release. People won't sit in a cinema for more than three hours, but on the other hand, they would binge [things] in their home for hours. I really don't know what form it will have on home video, whether you buy it as six episodes, or what. It's the same. At the end, it's the same, because people that want to keep going, they will keep going. But it's definitely, without shooting another movie, it's a definitive, global edition of the whole story, so that's why I wanted to include a couple of scenes that were not shot. Sort of like what Spielberg did with, not that it was two parts, but the special edition of Close Encounters. They released it, he shot more, then they rereleased it, and people poured to the cinema to see what that extra footage was.

I want to ask you about It: Chapter Two specifically. What is the element that you are most proud of when you look back on the making of this movie?

I think apart from the new spectacle that Chapter Two brings compared to the first one, the scope, scale, bigger canvas, I'm proud of the emotional journey. I'm proud of the emotional conclusion to this story, probably because it's the thing that still gets me when I see the movie after watching it like 200 times. I still see the things that get me, like Richie holding Eddie in the cavern, the guys in the quarry, in the water at the end holding each other as a group. These bits still get me, and I think they work because it was well built throughout the two movies. I think there was an emotional engagement that was achieved. I see it in people, I see people coming out of the theater with teary eyes, and that's the greatest reward.

There was a report earlier this summer that you were in talks to direct The Flash. I don't even want to get into the specifics of that with you, but I just want to ask hypothetically speaking, what would you like to see in a Flash movie?

Well, I would be revealing too much, maybe. (laughs) I can't talk about it yet, because we're still in the beginning phase of that. But it's very exciting. That I can tell you.


It: Chapter Two is in theaters now.