Interview: Isaiah Mustafa on It Chapter Two and Pennywise

It Chapter Two Isaiah Mustafa Brooke Palmer

Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer

It Chapter Two hits theaters this weekend, and Pennywise returns to haunt the poor members of the Losers’ Club decades later. We had the chance to chat with Isaiah Mustafa, who plays the older version of Mike, and his character is responsible for bringing everyone together. He talks about working in the It franchise, scary moments, reacting to Bill Skarsgård’s Pennywise, and more.

Nerd Reactor: What’s it like being a part of the It franchise?

Isaiah Mustafa: It was such an honor. The book itself is super legendary because it seems like a lot of people read it as a coming-of-age book when they’re 12, 13, or 14 years old. And then to be part of the movie and carry on with that is a great honor.

And you have the biggest honor of all. You’re the one who brings the Losers Club back together.

Isaiah Mustafa: Honestly, I’m still kind of grasping it now. You know, I didn’t really grasp how cool that was until I started watching the old It miniseries. And I read the book again, and I was like, “Wow, Mike’s the reason why they all come back to do this.” I’m still kind of blown away by it.

Were you able to see the other things from the characters, or did you focus on your own character’s journey?

Isaiah Mustafa: I tend to dig in and I’d like to know where everybody’s kind of coming from. As we were reading the script, I broke it down to where I saw the different arcs and different characters. I was talking to somebody the other day about how each one of these characters is experiencing some sort of trauma or has experienced some sort of trauma in their early life. When they left Derry, that trauma went away and they all became super successful. It’s the phone call that kind of reminds them of what they’ve been through. It wasn’t over, and they need to come back and face it. It’s really cool to watch this group of Losers kind of overcome their fears by coming back to where they grew up and banding together.

Did you try to capture Chosen’s performance from the first film?

Isaiah Mustafa: I definitely took from the foundation that Chosen [Jacobs] laid in the first film, and it made everything I did so much more fully realized.

Did you get to visit the set from the past?

Isaiah Mustafa: Yeah. The place we filmed for Derry was called Port Hope, and all the signs were changed and the posters were ’80s movie posters and stuff. It was really cool to kind of go back and check that out. There were The Lost Boys and Lethal Weapon II posters. It takes me back to the late ’80s. It was a cool time That’s when I was like 12, 13, 14 years old. Yeah, I totally remember.

Was there a favorite set?

Going to the sewers was my favorite. When you see us going to the sewers, we were actually doing that. Everything was so practical that it made it more fun and real.

Is that a real fear for you?

Yeah, I would never. When I was a kid, I actually did that. When I was growing up in Mission Viejo, there were these sewer tubes. They weren’t nearly as big as the ones in It, but they were big enough for a 10-year-old. I did that as a kid, and I don’t even know how I did it. I would never do it now.

Was there any fear when dealing with Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise?

It was fun. Bill’s such a cool and giving actor that he made it very easy and real to be afraid – to react off of what he was giving me. My hats are off to Bill because he has way more heavy lifting – being in that costume and having to exert so much force and so much energy. He’s a great performer to work with.

Is there a certain genre that you enjoy, or are you the type of actor who just enjoys anything with a good story?

Yeah, as long as the writing is really good, I really like that. Just something that I can sink my teeth into as far as a good story. Something that takes me off to a territory that I’ve never been before. It’s always nice.

It Chapter Two releases in theaters on September 6, 2019.

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