The It cast includes Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, and of course Bill Skarsgård.
There is no bigger name in horror than Stephen King and no bigger landmark in his career than his 1986 novel It. We mean that literally, as the original printing weighs in at a staggering 1,138 pages. The epic, decade-spanning story tells of a group of Mainer children who face off against a terrifying, cosmic entity known as It. The two-part feature film adaptation of It (directed by Andy Muschietti) quickly became one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed Stephen King adaptations ever. And the It cast is a big reason.
Fittingly for one of the most influential of all of Stephen King’s works, It has a pretty enormous cast of characters. Fortunately, we are here to break down its ensemble of humans and manifestations of pure psychic terror.
SPOILERS FOR IT CHAPTERS ONE AND TWO TO FOLLOW
IT CAST: THE LOSERS’ CLUB
Jaeden Lieberher – Bill Denbrough
In the It cast, Bill Denbrough is the de-facto leader of the Losers’ Club, the group of outcast kids in Derry, Maine who come together in both friendship and to defeat It. Jaeden Lieberher plays the youthful version of the character, who begins losing his younger brother Georgie to the supernatural monster in the form of Pennywise and a storm drain.
All of the Losers have some kind of “othering” characteristics that makes them both unique and despised in Derry; Bill is notable for his stutter, which tends to disappear when he is at his most confident and return when he is frightened.
More than any of his friends, Bill sees destroying Pennywise as personal, to save their own lives, the lives of other children, and to alleviate his guilt for the death of Georgie.
Sophia Lillis – Beverly Marsh
Sophia Lillis plays Beverly “Bev” Marsh in the It cast. She is the sole female member of the Losers’ Club and the one to have the most direct contact with Pennywise. She is bullied at school for supposed promiscuity and is abused (implied to be sexual) at home by her widower father Alvin, who blames her for her mother’s death.
Both Bill and Ben Hanscom develop infatuations with Beverly, who seems attracted to both in different ways. In the first film, Beverly is kidnapped by Pennywise, who brings her to his lair and reveals his true form to her, rendering her catatonic. However, this also has the effect of giving visions to Beverly later of what could happen to them as adults if they do not confront It.
Finn Wolfhard – Richie Tozier
Among the It cast, Richie Tozier (Finn Wolfhard) is the most talkative, abrasive member of the Losers, frequently targeting his friend Eddie Kaspbrak with insults. He is eventually revealed to be gay and deeply afraid (even as an adult) of anyone discovering it, with the implication that his sense of humor is a defense mechanism.
Jeremy Ray Taylor – Ben Hanscom
Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor) is a shy, highly intelligent child who spends much of his time reading in the Derry Library. His obesity causes him to be a particular target of the sadistic bully Henry Bowers and his gang, as well as a deep source of insecurity and low self-esteem. He writes poetry for Beverly, but does not have the courage to give it to her directly.
For the It cast however, it is Ben who first puts it together through his studies that Derry has an unnaturally high rate of murders and disappearances and that they seem to be tied to a 27-year cycle.
Wyatt Oleff – Stanley Uris
Stanley Uris (Wyatt Oleff) is a quiet, studious boy whose life is dominated by his Rabbi father and bothered by being Jewish. More than any of the other Losers, he is logical and pragmatic and initially the least willing to believe in supernatural forces.
However, it is frequently implied that he has an inner strength and perception that his friends do not and a greater understanding of what it will take to destroy Pennywise.
Chosen Jacobs – Mike Hanlon
Mike Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs) is the only Black member of the group and is relentlessly, violently harassed by Henry Bowers and his gang. His parents died in a fire when he was young and he is even more socially isolated than his friends.
Mike is the last of the Losers to join and is eventually the only one to remain in Derry after they grow up.
Jack Dylan Grazer – Eddie Kaspbrak
Eddie Kaspbrak (Jack Dylan Grazer) is a deeply neurotic, hypochondriac child, with a close, unhealthy relationship with his mother. It is eventually revealed he is being abused via Munchausen syndrome by proxy, in which his mother makes him dependent on her by giving him placebo medications.
IT CAST: THE GROWN-UPS
James McAvoy – Bill Denbrough
James McAvoy plays the grown Bill, who has grown to be a successful novelist (one of Stephen King’s many writer characters). As an adult, he is even more tormented by his belief that he should have been able to prevent Georgie’s death and returns to Derry to once again act as leader of the group.
Jessica Chastain – Beverly Marsh
As an adult, Beverly (Jessica Chastain) is married to an abusive man, implied to be reflective of her relationship with her father. However, much as with her father, she is eventually able to physically confront her husband and return to Derry along with the others. She and Ben eventually reunite as adults.
Bill Hader – Richie Tozier
Richie (Bill Hader) has become a successful stand-up comedian as an adult, albeit one that apparently does not write his own material (though that might have been one of his many jokes). He is still closeted and it is eventually revealed that he has held unrequited romantic feelings for Eddie for years.
Jay Ryan – Ben Hanscom
Ben (Jay Ryan) has grown to be very physically fit as an adult, as well as a successful, respected architect. It is clear, however, he still has low self-esteem and feelings for Beverly.
Andy Bean – Stanley Uris
In the It cast, Stanley (Andy Bean) is the least-seen of the Losers as an adult; upon being reminded of Pennywise and knowing he has to return to Derry, he commits suicide. It is later seen that he was both too scared to face It again, and also felt the Losers needed a new tragedy to re-form their bond and finally defeat the creature.
Isaiah Mustafa – Mike Hanlon
Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) stayed in Derry when the other Losers left, and has retained memories of Pennywise that have faded for the others. After 27 years, when the cycle begins again, he calls them back and reminds them all of what has happened as well as what he has learned of the origin of It.
James Ransone – Eddie Kaspbrak
Despite discovering that his mother was lying about his asthma, Eddie seems just as hypochondriac as an adult as he did as a child. He has married a woman who seems very similar to his mother and returns to Derry with the rest.
In Stephen King’s It, The Losers’ Club is defending itself against a demonic force that can appear as almost anything. Specifically, It tends to choose the thing that will terrify an individual the most, thus:
PENNYWISE’S MANY FORMS
Bill Skarsgård – Pennywise the Dancing Clown
It is a shapeshifter that takes on many forms through the course of the story, but seems to favor Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgård), an eerie, excitable circus performer that mostly dwells in the sewers beneath Derry and emerges from hibernation every 27 years to kill and devour children after terrifying them.
Eventually, Mike discovers that It is actually an ancient, primordial predator that crashed into Earth in an asteroid millions of years ago and has since been dwelling under the land where Derry would eventually be. Terrifying its prey serves to make them somehow taste better to It, which is why It generally targets more easily frightened children.
In addition to its own killings and mayhem, it seems that the mere presence of It influences the town of Derry on a primal level, making its inhabitants more prone to aggression, hostility, and violence.
In addition to all the forms below, It also appears as the Losers themselves multiple times and is implied to frequently be observing them via more innocuous background figures.
Joan Gregson – Mrs. Kersh
Mrs. Kersh (Joan Gregson) is a form taken by It to frighten the adult Beverly, appearing as an old woman who resides in the apartment she had with her father years ago. Mrs. Kersh has an antique picture of a man named Bob Gray on her wall that greatly resembles Pennywise, but whether this has deeper meaning other than It tormenting Beverly is unclear.
Javier Botet – The Witch – The Leper
After initially appearing to Beverly as a kindly old woman (a common tactic of It is to appear friendly or harmless at first), It transforms into a giant, naked woman (Javier Botet) who attacks her. It can be inferred that this particular form was chosen to target Beverly’s trauma around her father.
Javier Botet also plays It as the Leper, a hideously diseased and disfigured hobo who terrifies the hypochondriac Eddie as both a child and an adult.
Edie Inksetter – The Hostess
It appears to Henry Bowers in the form of a children’s show host on television, surrounded by children who were victims of the creature. It convinces Henry to kill his father in this form.
Tatum Lee – The Woman in the Painting
This particularly scary form of It initially appears as a painting on the wall of Stanley’s father’s office.
Carter Musselman – the Headless Boy
At one point, Ben is pursued through the Derry Library by a spectral, headless boy, though it is also suggested that the Librarian herself is a form of It.
The Deadlights – Themselves
The ultimate true form of It, the Deadlights, are a trio of interlocked, orbiting lights that bring madness to anyone who perceives them. Though the creature can appear in almost any form and generally chooses shapes that It feels will scare its prey, this is the true essence of It.
Because this is a Stephen King story, the Losers not only have to deal with It, but human tormentors:
IT CAST: THE BULLIES
Nicholas Hamilton – Henry Bowers/ Teach Grant – Adult Henry Bowers
Henry Bowers (played as a child by Nicholas Hamilton and an adult by Teach Grant) is the Losers’ Club’s bully and It’s primary human minion. Henry appears to be psychopathically violent and prejudiced against essentially everyone; at one point carves letters in child Ben’s stomach with his pocketknife, which disgusts even his friends.
It begins to more overtly manipulate Henry by convincing him to kill his abusive father and then try to murder the Losers (often singling out Mike). As an adult, he has been committed to a mental institution for decades but comes out of his catatonia with the emergence of It from hibernation.
Owen Teague – Patrick Hockstetter
In the It cast, Henry’s second-in-command, Patrick Hockstetter (Owen Teague) appears to be equally violent, particularly enjoying threatening the Losers with his lighter and hairspray. He is killed by It in the sewers of Derry, who later appears as a rotted, zombie-like Hockstetter to aid the adult Henry.
Logan Thompson – Vic Criss
Vic Criss (Logan Thompson) is one of the other members of Henry’s gang, though he appears to not be quite as willing to inflict deadly harm on others.
Jake Sim – Belch Huggins
Belch (Jake Sim) is the largest of Henry’s gang and notable for being particularly injured during a rock fight between the Losers and his companions.
Megan Charpentier – Greta Keene/ Juno Rinaldi – Greta Bowie
Greta (as a child, Megan Charpentier, and as an adult, Juno Rinaldi) is the primary bully of Beverly at school and the daughter of the town pharmacist who supplies Eddie’s fake medication. She is responsible for revealing to him that they are placebos, though it seems she was attempting to mock him rather than help.
Greta briefly appears in the second movie, still working at the pharmacy and still insulting Eddie.
THE TOWN OF DERRY
Jackson Robert Scott – Georgie Denbrough
The younger brother of Bill, Georgie’s (Jackson Robert Scott) death at the hand of Pennywise is the inciting moment of the story. Because Bill, who was ill that day and made his brother a paper boat to play with, was not present, he views himself as responsible and wants to kill It partly in defense.
Stephen Bogaert – Alvin Marsh
Alvin Marsh (Stephen Bogaert) is the abusive father of Beverly, whose mother is suggested to have either died of an illness or killed herself. Beverly eventually physically confronts him and smashes a toilet lid over his head before being taken by Pennywise.
Molly Atkinson – Sonia Kaspbrak – Myra Kaspbrak
Both the manipulative, needy mother and the manipulative, overbearing wife of Eddie Kaspbrak are played by Molly Atkinson.
Stuart Hughes – Butch Bowers
An Officer of the Derry Police Department, Butch Bowers (Stuart Hughes) is physically and emotionally abusive to his son, which is suggested to be at least partly responsible for his own violent behavior. He also seems to have a racial animosity against Mike and his family, which he has taught his son.
Xavier Dolan and Taylor Frey – Adrian Mellon and Don Hagarty
A gay couple visiting Derry, the two are attacked in a homophobic hate crime by a group of youths, leading Adrian to be severely beaten and thrown off a bridge into a river. He becomes the first victim of Pennywise, who has emerged from his 27-year hibernation.
Stephen King was inspired by the real-life murder of Charlie Howard in Bangor, Maine in 1984, which happened under very similar circumstances. Thematically, Adrian and Don are victims of both It and the pervasive evil that It infects Derry with.
Luke Roessler – Dean Miller
When the Losers return to Derry as adults, they encounter a young boy several times who they first suspect to be It in a new form. Later, the boy reveals to Bill that It has begun to approach him via whispering voices; Bill later attempts to save the boy from Pennywise.
Stephen King – Shopkeeper
It would not be a Stephen King movie without a cameo from the author himself, who appears as a cranky pawn shop owner who sells a bicycle to the adult Bill.