How the cast of It should really look

Stephen's King's 1986 novel It centers around a group of misfit kids dubbed the Losers' Club as they battle a supernatural evil tormenting their town of Derry, Maine. Tormented by school bullies, pitied by adults, and brought together by the fact none of them quite fit in anywhere else, King's young heroes faces one of the most malevolent forces on Earth—and with the 2017 film adaptation scoring big at the box office, we've decided to take a look at just how well the cast lines up with the way the characters are described in the book.

Bill Denbrough

Relative newcomer Jaeden Lieberher (previously seen in Midnight Special and Showtime's Masters of Sex) was tapped to play one of the first characters we meet in the book. Bill—also known as Stuttering Bill—is the de facto leader of the Losers' Club and older brother to Georgie, one of It's victims. 

We get a brief description of Bill when he's seized with a coughing fit during a bout of the flu, and his face turns as red as his hair. Later, when he races to the drugstore on his bike, Silver, to get his friend Eddie Kaspbrak's asthma medicine, we read about the "goofball grin" he has when he's riding Silver, as well as the anxious blue eyes that meet the pharmacist. That same pharmacist also thinks there's no way Bill's actually big, tall, or strong enough to successfully ride his bike.

When Mike Hanlon is running from Henry Bowers and comes face to face with the Losers Club, he talks to Bill first because he's described as the leader and the tallest, most authoritative figure in the group. After the group's childhood years, an adult Richie Tozier would later see someone who reminded him of Bill: a teenage JFK.

Onscreen, Lieberher looks little like the Bill described in the book. He's not particularly taller or more imposing than the others, but he still makes it clear he's the one who's lost the most—and has the most at stake down in the sewers. He doesn't have Bill's shock of red hair, either, but he definitely has Bill's presence and his heart.

Richie Tozier

This Stranger Things alumni is definitely no stranger to weird things that go bump in the night—or 1980s period projects. As Richie Tozier, Finn Wolfhard plays a scrawny, spectacled kid with a number of nicknames, but it's his oversized front teeth that gave him the less-than-flattering "Bucky Beaver." Without his glasses—so thick they magnify his eyes into an expression of constant surprise—he'd be virtually blind.

Those glasses are constantly being broken, dropped, kicked, and bent, and they're almost always lopsided and mended with tape. Richie's appearance is always slightly awkward, characterized by the front teeth that gave him his nickname, and his vocal impressions (all of which sort of sound like Richie Tozier). His mouth constantly gets him into trouble—hence his other nickname, Trashmouth.

Most of the book's physical descriptions of Richie revolve around his glasses and his teeth, and Wolfhand definitely pulls off the glasses and his character's wide-eyed awkwardness. King left a lot of room to play with Richie, and Wolfhard's casting was nothing short of perfect—his attitude is 100 percent Trashmouth.

Ben Hanscom

Relative newcomer Jeremy Ray Taylor may be familiar to fans of the Marvel Universe thanks to his role as a bully in Ant-Man. In It, he made a change of pace by playing Ben Hanscom, the boy all the grown-ups like.

When it comes to wardrobe, Ben's childhood choice of clothes doesn't just say a lot about what he looks like, but who he is. He wears only one of four baggy sweatshirts because after being ridiculed for wearing an Ivy League shirt, he decided that it was safer for an overweight kid to stick with clothes he can hide behind. Just as important to his appearance is the way he carries himself, which makes him popular with adults—and disliked by a lot of kids. He's soft-spoken and shy, polite and sensitive.

Most of the descriptions of Ben revolve around his weight, and it's what everyone his own age—especially Henry Bowers, whose gang bullies the Losers' Club—sees when they look at him. When the two groups get into a rock fight, Ben tackles Henry; when he does, we find out he's "one hundred fifty trying for one-sixty." He also bears a scar from the time Henry started to carve his name into Ben's stomach—and another from one of the Club's encounters with It.

Taylor is spot-on—it's as if the character stepped off the page and onto the screen. It's easy to imagine casting directors taking one look at him and saying, "That's our Ben."

Beverly Marsh

Beverly Marsh, played by Sophia Lillis in her first major role, is the only girl in the Losers' Club. Like Ben, Bev's clothes aren't just a part of her look, they're a part of her character. When Ben sees her in class, he admits to himself even in Salvation Army thrift-store sweaters, too-big skirts, and scuffed penny loafers, she's still prettier than the most well-to-do girls of their class.

We get a better picture of her when Ben and Bev run into each other just after school lets out for the year. She's described with all the details of a schoolboy crush: her hair is long and auburn, eyes are gray-green, her skin "milky." Richie runs into her later, and even though he admits to himself she's the prettiest girl he's ever seen, he also likes her because "she was a good guy."

Richie describes Bev's hair as having "highlights seeming coppery or sometimes almost blonde," reaching to her shoulder blades. She has a bruise on her cheek at the time (not an uncommon reminder of her father's tendency toward violence), and it stands out on her pale complexion, smattering of freckles, red lips, and what he describes as gray-blue eyes. He also notices something else—a smile he sees as "wise, cynical, and sad all at the same time."

Lillis's casting is essentially perfect. She has the same complexion and reddish-blonde hair as her novel counterpart, and she doesn't just pull off the look (slightly updated for the 1980s), but has a world-weary cynicism that makes her seem much older than she is, a product of her environment.

Eddie Kaspbrak

Jack Dylan Grazer capped a brief string of early supporting roles with the part of Eddie Kaspbrak, one of Bill's longtime closest friends and a charter member of the Losers' Club.

Most of King's descriptions of Eddie center around his asthma. Plagued by an ever-present mother convinced he's going to hurt himself and die, he's small, slight, and fragile—even as an adult, when his face is described as "thin and delicate-looking." It's early on, when we get a look into the adult Eddie's medicine cabinet, that we get the most general description of a short, shy man with a white, rabbit-like face, and wide, staring eyes. Those gray eyes are mentioned elsewhere in the book when he confronts his mother about whether she knew his inhaler was only filled with water—one of the only times he manages to stand up to her.

Grazer's Eddie doesn't get much of a description in the book, so there weren't many ways they could go wrong. Grazer captures his character's mother-inflicted frailties while still being a lot stronger than he looks—exactly as Eddie should be.

Mike Hanlon

Hawaii Five-O vet Chosen Jacobs traded the tropics for Maine when he took on the role of It's Mike Hanlon. A farm kid growing up on the outskirts of town, Mike is from the only black family in Derry, and that's made him one of Henry's favorite Losers' Club targets even though they don't go to the same school.

Working in the fields has made Mike tough, and he's the one who ultimately stays behind in Derry, waiting for It to return after the others move away. He's described as incredibly fast, agile, and slim, escaping countless beatings simply by outrunning and outmaneuvering Bowers and his gang. He's athletic and strong, going on to briefly play football until he's sidelined by an injury.

Jacobs was a brilliant casting choice for Mike. He's the big, tough, farm kid, but still has an emotional vulnerability that sends him running from Bowers and his crew. We got to see him grow up, and fans who know what happens to adult Mike know young Mike set it up perfectly.

Stan Uris

Wyatt Oleff played the young Star-Lord in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies before being cast as It's Stan Uris, a boy who earns his outsider status because of his faith—and because he's a grade behind, having started late since he was a sickly kid. According to Eddie, the stereotypes everyone's heard about Jews don't hold up for Stan, because he's "got a regular nose and he's always broke."

Stan is described as the fastidious sort, and the kind of person who never needed to be told to keep the hood of his raincoat up. That extended to every bit of his life, from his clothes to his studies to his appearance. His black hair is mentioned when he's first introduced as an adult; in retrospect, Eddie remembers that as a child, Stan had a sort of inherent grace.

Oleff doesn't look too much like the Stan in the book—he doesn't have black hair, the feature that's mentioned most often. But he does have Stan's fussy mannerisms down, and his neatness is as much a part of him as his physical description.

Henry Bowers

Nicholas Hamilton plays school bully Henry Bowers, who's a little older than the members of the Losers' Club even though he's in the same grade. He's 12 but big for his age, made into something of a brute by a supposedly crazy father who made him work nearly the equivalent of a full-time job doing heavy farm labor.

Unlike the film, which moves the action to the '80s, the book is set in the '50s—and Henry is the embodiment of the 1950s bully, with a flat top haircut, kept short enough that it's as much scalp as hair. He goes heavy on the Butch-Wax, and "as a result the hair just above his forehead looked like the teeth of an oncoming power-mower." He smelled of sweat and Juicy Fruit, and wore a pink motorcycle jacket with an eagle on the back. His eyes are black, and he's often covered with bruises, reminders of beatings handed out by his dad.

Hamilton's Bowers got a massive update for the movie, so he's missing a lot of what made the Henry Bowers of the book. He's lost his jacket, but the character still manages to keep an almost 1950s feel while still looking completely at home in the '80s. Hamilton embodies the dangerous insanity that made Bowers the perfect pawn for It, and he doesn't need a pink jacket to do it.

Patrick Hockstetter

Henry Bowers and his crew were bullies, but it was Patrick who was really, truly horrible. Played by Owen Teague from Bloodline and Black Mirror, Patrick is the student who triggered a whole different level of fear in those he terrorized with his wandering hands and pencil case full of dead flies. In the novel, he's heavyset—Bev describes him as "podgy." With his "slack and pallid moonface" and low-normal IQ scores, the adults underestimate just how clever he is—and how sick.

The most telling physical description we get is from Patrick's teachers, who think of him as "a big lump of clay that had been crudely fashioned to look like a boy." That's less than specific, but it gets the point across.

Teague, who already has a slew of credits to his name, looks nothing like the heavyset, expressionless 12-year-old of the book. Fans might be more inclined to think he'd be cast as Victor instead, but the essence of the character—his sick, twisted nature—is still very much there, even if his appearance and storyline has changed drastically.

Victor Criss

Victor Criss is just as 1950s-era bad boy as Henry, and his book look is very much a product of his era. Newcomer Logan Thompson looks next to nothing like the Victor of the book, and that's not surprising. Victor channels Elvis for his look, described as sporting a pompadour greased back with Brylcreem. His style is all motorcycle, and he's always wearing jeans, a shirt with a popped collar, and heavy engineer's boots… all the better for kicking.

Taking Victor from the page and the screen meant overhauling the character from an Elvis-inspired bully to something more at home in the 1980s, so it's not surprising Thompson doesn't look much like readers may have pictured. He does, however, look like the bullies every '80s kid remembers from school.

Belch Huggins

Belch is the biggest of Bowers' almost interchangeable thugs, but aside from that, Jake Sim's novel counterpart doesn't get much of a physical description. When Ben first sees him, he's mainly described as a looming sort of threat. Later, adult Eddie's memories are of a 12-year-old who was already adult-sized at six feet tall, weighing in around 170, and still growing. Given the nickname for obvious reasons—undoubtedly the height of child humor—he's big without being fat. He's terrifying, graceless, clumsy and angry.

Since most of Belch's descriptions focus on his size, it's safe to say Sim fits the bill. He's scary in a way that will bring back memories for adults in the audience, and it's easy to see why the Losers are terrified of him. 


As we've helped illustrate with some Photoshop work in the above image, Bill Skarsgård's Pennywise represents a change from the novel. According to costume designer Janie Bryant, the new look was inspired by a combination of Renaissance, Elizabethan and medieval-era clown and jester costumes, all with a Victorian feel.

But in the book, the first time we see Pennywise is through the eyes of Bill's little brother, Georgie Denbrough, who sees yellow eyes—"the sort of eyes he had always imagined but never actually seen down in the basement." Since Georgie's operating on 1958 pop culture references, he likens the clown—who introduces himself as Mr. Bob Gray, or Pennywise the Dancing Clown—to a mix of Bozo and Clarabell. As the book notes, if Georgie'd been born a bit later, he would have thought of Ronald McDonald.

His face is painted white, and he's bald save for a tuft of hair on each side of his head—described as more orange than red. He's got a big clown smile painted on, and once he starts talking, Georgie realizes his eyes aren't yellow at all, they're blue. He's wearing something a baggy silk suit with orange buttons, a giant, electric-blue tie, and white gloves that remind the doomed Georgie of Mickey Mouse.

The Pennywise of the movie looks little like King originally imagined—he's less of a Bozo than a terrifying jester ripped from the darkest parts of history. He's a completely different sort of clown, but it works so, so well even the most dedicated purists will forgive these changes.