THE SUGGESTION BOX: Who Should Be Cast in Stephen King's 'IT'
Written by Greg McIver
A while back, it came to light that Cary Fukunaga, the directorial genius behind HBO’s "True Detective", had been tapped to direct a brand new adaption of what many consider to be Stephen King’s greatest novel, IT. We’ve also heard that a new adaption of The Stand is in the works, with Matthew McConaughey being courted for the role of Randall Flagg; and somewhere out in the realm of development hell, The Dark Tower series is waiting for someone brave enough to rescue and distribute it. But ultimately it’s IT that interests me the most, because I grew up with the incredibly popular mini-series made back in 1990, and it is still the best novel I’ve ever read by Stephen King.
For those not familiar with the story, I’ll sum it up for you as briefly as I can. In the town of Derry, located in Maine, little children are being slaughtered by a powerful entity. This creature can take the shape of your worst fears, but initially it tries to lure kids away by taking the shape of a clown who calls himself Pennywise. Eventually, a group of 7 children (The Losers Club) realize what is happening and band together to stop IT. They think they have succeeded, and as the years go by, the kids do what most kids do: they get older. Eventually they discover that IT has returned, and the now-adult members of The Losers Club must travel back to Derry once again to put an end to IT’s reign of terror once and for all.
The only details that have been released so far about this production is that the story will be split into two movies (which is a good thing unless you want to sit through a six-hour movie), and Stephen King himself has given his blessing towards the project after reading the screenplay. Film adaptations of King’s work have ranged from cinematic gold, like The Shawshank Redemption, to... things like The Lawnmower Man, so it’s nice to hear that King is onboard with this latest adaptation. But aside from those two details, we know nothing else about the upcoming flick. Well, I guess it’s time to take matters into my own hands then.
Below are my suggestions for actors who could portray The Losers Club and Pennywise. I’ll just be sticking with the grown-up versions of The Losers. I would also like to give credit to my friends Rick Rodriguez and Nicholas Civitello for helping to come up with some of the excellent choices. I’ll explain more later.
Bill Denbrough:JOHN CUSACK
This is sort of cheating since Cusack already played a writer in another Stephen King adaptation, 1408. But I have literally been around the bend several dozen times, and I keep coming back to him. Bill Denbrough is sort of the unofficial leader of The Losers Club, if only for the fact that his brother Georgie was killed by IT, which gives him a personal stake in the matter. Cusack has effortlessly piloted many Hollywood ventures over the years, and with IT, he could bring the charm, darkness, wit, passion, anger, hurt, and soulfulness that the character of Bill requires. If I left out any descriptive qualities, please feel free to list them in the comments section below. But seriously, that dark and wry persona of his is just what the doctor ordered for this role.
Ben Hanscom: LIEV SCHREIBER
I’ve also used Schreiber once or twice before in some of my other hypothetical castings, but dammit I just can’t help myself. He’s an amazing actor who could bring some new and exciting things to the table in the role of Ben Hanscom. Ben was very overweight as a child, and as a result, he was bullied quite a bit. Through the years, though, he worked hard to shed the pounds and to turn himself into a new man. Ben is a lot like Bill in that he exudes a sort of nostalgic weariness that’s coupled with a true nobility, and I for one think that Mr. Schreiber would be the perfect person to capture those qualities and bring them to life onscreen.
Richie Tozier: BILL BURR
This bit of casting is so genius, I wish I could actually take credit for it. My friends and I were sitting around one night imagining our own casting for IT when things suddenly got silly and we started thinking of only casting stand-up comedians for all of the roles. I don’t know which of them suggested Bill Burr first, but it’s an excellent choice as Richie Tozier as the smart-mouth of the group who honestly wants nothing to do with the inevitable second battle with IT. Ironically, it was Ritchie’s initial use of his crazy imagination as a child that showed the other Losers that they could possibly defeat IT in the first place. Burr has the intense energy and vitriol that the character of Richie needs, and also the capability of dialing that energy down for some of the more quieter moments. I’ve stated before that Burr’s star is on the rise, and playing the role of Richie would all but cement his status as a real Hollywood player.
Eddie Kaspbrak: MICHAEL STUHLBARG
As a child, Eddie was seen as smaller and weaker than the other kids in his school, and his asthma certainly didn’t make things any easier for him. He also had to contend with an overbearing mother, and later in his adult life, he inherits a fairly impressive Oedipal Complex by marrying a woman who is emotionally the exact mirror image of his mother. If you’ve seen Michael Stuhlbarg in the film A Serious Man, then you’ll know why I think he’s great for this part. Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Stuhlbarg has an impressive range that will surely make him a cinematic force to be reckoned with in the years to come, but his ability to the play the incredibly timid but incredibly resolved Eddie Kaspbrak is just so obvious that it would be silly to not take advantage of it.
Beverly Marsh: JENNIFER CONNELLY
For the role of Beverly, a strong actress is required who can demonstrate, like most of the other Losers when you think about it, great vulnerability and great strength at the same time. Beverly’s history with men outside the Loser’s Club has always been troubled, and yet she is able to, time and again, draw upon an inner energy in order to survive or battle back. Jennifer Connelly has entrained audiences for years with her soulful and haunting performances in such movies as Requiem for a Dream, The House of Sand and Fog, and Noah. Beverly Marsh is a character of deep and complex feelings, and while many actresses could do justice to the role, I think that Connelly is the perfect fit.
Mike Hanlon: CUBA GOODING JR.
Mike is the one member of The Losers Club that stayed behind in the town of Derry. While the rest of them left and became unusually successful in their adult lives, Hanlon stayed put and kept a watchful eye over the town in case IT were to return. More importantly, he kept the memories alive as well, so when the rest of the group returned, he could fill in the gaps of missing memory that seemed to have suddenly occurred to them the second they left Derry behind. Cuba Gooding Jr. has proven over the years that he is an actor capable of not only showing great strength and depth, but with an excellent ability to listen and draw strength from his fellow actors. Although famous for winning an Oscar for his role in Jerry Maguire, I tend to think that Cuba is at his best when he’s showing his calmer and introspective side. Keeping that in mind, he is an excellent candidate for the role of Mike Hanlon.
Stan Uris: PATTON OSWALT
My friends and I also cast Patton as well, but originally we thought of him for a different role. Now, since this is a cast list that I would ACTUALLY like to see happen, I have changed things up and passed the role of Stan the Man to Patton the... Oswalt. This isn’t exactly the most cheerful role for someone like Mr. Oswalt, who is easily the funniest man working in comedy today. But we’ve seen Patton flex his dramatic chops in the past with such films like Big Fan and Young Adult, and while the role of Stan is not very large, it’s one filled with vulnerability and sadness, which I think, coming from Patton, would make it that much more impactful. Out of all the members of The Losers Club, Stan is the one least willing to believe in the existence of IT. This lack of imagination is a severe handicap that will prove most unfortunate in the future. Ironically, Oswalt has always been a person of great imagination, and that is why I would like to see him go the opposite direction and take on the more dour and grounded role of Stan Uris.
Pennywise the Dancing Clown: EDDIE IZZARD
I’ll let my friends tussle over who said his name first, but it was something that we all agreed upon the instant it was heard. Mr. Izzard is a talented comedian who has always demonstrated a bit of a dark and seductive quality coupled with tremendous energy. If given the opportunity, Izzard can take those attributes of his and truly make Pennywise a terrifying and memorable figure.
Whom would YOU like to see cast in the new IT movie?