James McAvoy Describes Pennywise Nightmares at 'IT' Panel

Conan brought the cast of 'IT' to Comic-Con, Speckels Theater

July 18, 2019

By Evonne Ermey

Lines snaked down the street and around Horton Plaza last night as Comic-Con fans gathered to catch a sneak preview of 'IT' hosted by Conan at the Spreckles Theater downtown. 

The informal panel included Jessica Chastain (Beverly Marsh), James McAvoy (Bill Denbrough), Bill Hader (Richie Tozier), and director Andres Muschietti. Bill Skarsgard (Pennywise), did not attend.

The evening opened with the unreleased movie trailer - a bloody, pulse-pumping bit of horror that left even the naturally pale Conan blanched with fear. 

"That was a f*@#ing good trailer," said Conan, "I mean, I've been presenting and pretending that trailers are good for, like 20 years, and that one was actually really f*#@ing good!"

In addition to the trailer, the audience previewed clips from the movie, which even the cast present had not had a chance to watch. The clips included the adult characters' Derry reunion at the Jade of the Orient Chinese restaurant. Only one of three clips faithful to the original movie. 

After a long absence from Derry, the grown members of the "losers club" reunite for the first time, unleashing a flood-gate of feel-good memories and, at the end of the evening, remembering the shared trauma of Pennywise. 

Hader is brilliant as adult Richie. He takes the bright moments in the otherwise dark film and makes them shine like a floodlight, giving the plunge into horror an even greater height to fall from. 

Without giving away any spoilers, the remaining two clips were completely original to the reboot. Bill, still haunted by his inability to save little brother Georgie, is given a chance to redeem himself. Entering a fun-house, hall of mirrors we watch Ben face-off against Pennywise in an attempt to save another little boy. The scene is terrifying and the outcome doesn't look to be in Ben's favor. 

The last clip previewed gave viewers a glimpse of the final showdown between the Losers Club and Pennywise.

When asked by audience members whether bringing 'IT' to life had affected them psychologically off-set, McAvoy confessed that Pennywise had followed him off the screen in the form of reoccurring nightmares. He described one dream in particular where the clown lay side-by-side with him in bed coaxing him to wake up while trailing his fingers along the length of McAvoy's spine.

"I just kept telling myself, 'Pretend to be asleep! Pretend to be asleep! But we've all been there right?" McAvoy turned to castmate Jessica Chastain for reassurance. "No!" she screamed, sending the audience into peals of laughter.

When asked what movies the cast felt might be completely off-limits in the age of reboots, Hader offered up another Stephen King classic, "The Shining," while Chastain concluded that "Rosemary's Baby" is something that should never be redone. 

Contesting the opinions of his castmates, Hader used his own kids as an example. "While 'Rosemary's Baby' is a classic, shot in a visionary style, I don't know if ten years from now I would have much luck convincing my kids to dust off the DVD player to revisit it." Rather, he suggested, the remaking of classics was a way to introduce them to new audiences.