As I wrote back in 2017 just before IT: Chapter 1 was released, I think it’s a mostly pointless exercise to make an honest comparison between the original 1990 miniseries and the new adaptation from Andy Muschietti. Nearly every element of the two films are different and the overall cinematic ecosystems in which they were both created are also very distinct. Sure, one could compare how faithful or unfaithful the stories were to the original text. But aside from that, it’s apples and oranges for me.
That said, looking at the miniseries and both Chapters 1 and 2 exactly two years later, it’s fun to see the ways in which Muschietti and his team have tipped their hats to Tommy Lee Wallace’s film. Fellow miniseries diehards swooned at the sight of a Tim Curry-Pennywise doll in Richie’s dreaded clown room in Chapter 1. So, the question leading up to IT: Chapter Two was: would the filmmakers surprise us with another miniseries Easter egg?
The short answer: Absolutely.
Cue actor Brandon Crane. No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you (nor is Pennywise) — that’s really Brandon “Ben Hanscom” Crane from the miniseries popping up early on in Chapter 2 and–at least for this IT fanatic–the reveal elicited a massive smile.
Full disclosure: I had the inside scoop about his cameo appearance–nevertheless, to actually see him appear on the big screen during the LA premiere screening last month was pure Losers Club bliss. As someone who values lineage and all the things that come before us, I appreciate the respect these new films have shown for the miniseries and Crane’s cameo appearance is just the latest example of this. So, with that, I caught up with my pal to find out more about how his cameo came to be, what it meant to him, and the connection he’s developed with Jeremy Ray Taylor–the young actor playing Ben Hanscom in the new films.
*After you’ve read the interview below cruise on over to Brandon’s website and learn more about his career and even pick up some killer Haystack swag! https://brandoncrane.com/
John Campopiano: Tell us how you came to be involved in IT: Chapter 2.
Brandon Crane: For years, Warner Bros. had threatened to do a film adaptation and the creative team would part ways with the project citing the usual “creative differences”. But things got real (finally) when the cast was announced in 2016 and photography started. I was completely blown away when the trailer dropped in 2017 and immediately looked [Andy Muschietti] up on Facebook because I had to say something. He answered back and we would continue to chat about the miniseries until the movie hit theaters.
After seeing it on opening night and having loved the movie so much I reached out to congratulate him (for whatever it was worth) and he said, “I seriously think you have to do a cameo in part 2”. I was in absolute shock. This was too much — for a moment, I thought I was being trolled this whole time by a really dedicated fan account. I switched to Instagram and sent him a screenshot of the Facebook conversation and said, “Andy – am I getting trolled over on Facebook?” – nothing.
Some time later he replies, “Yeah, I am the troll! I think you should do a cameo.”
The universe really works this way? What an awesome time to be alive. We agreed to keep it a secret, and 6 months later I read for the role so Andy could pitch the idea to New Line. A year after we originally talked about it I’d be in Toronto standing in front of a camera for the first time in over a decade.
JC: Can you share a little bit about what the experience was like for you on set filming your scene?
BC: I have to admit I was so nervous when the morning came. This was a bucket list thing for me, because I had never had a role in a feature. Andy and Barbara have so much integrity as human beings and artists — they stuck their neck out for me and I didn’t want to let them down.
I had to leave at 4:30 am and I was taken right to the base camp to check in — then they took us to the set where we did a little rehearsal and then it was back to camp for hair and makeup. I got dressed, they took us to set and somehow the nerves went away. Everything was like I remembered: I got rigged up for sound and we walked in [and] started shooting. It was also the first time I’ve acted opposite a television screen. Jay Ryan (adult Ben Hanscom) had already shot his part of the dialogue and the effects team did an amazing job making us feel like he was live. I was having so much fun but before I knew it, it was time to go.
Looking back, working with Andy was incredible. He was never afraid to try new things and roll with the organic happenings, even long after we established the master shot. It reminded me a lot of working with Tommy Lee Wallace. Andy is as creative as they come and he fosters a very open, creative environment. During one setup, we watched some of the playback and he even talked me through the edit he had in his head. Nicholas Hamilton (young Henry Bowers) stopped by to hang with Andy while we were working so it was great to finally meet him, too.
Afterwards, Barbara invited me to visit the setup for Eddie’s limousine shots where I got to meet James Ransone (adult Eddie Kaspbrak). They were off on the dolly truck (and support caravan) and I went back to the hotel to start packing.
JC: Having starred in the 1990 miniseries, what did it mean to you to return to the world of Stephen King and this new cinematic interpretation of IT?
BC: The Muschiettis made me feel like family and it was a pleasure getting to know them and becoming their friend. Honestly, I’d have worn a chicken suit had they asked, but it sure meant a hell of a lot to be welcomed into their IT universe.
JC: Over the last year or so you’ve had a chance to get to know Jeremy Ray Taylor, the actor who plays young Ben Hanscom in both IT Chapters 1 & 2.
BD: I reached out privately when he was cast to express my support (for whatever it was worth, as Jarred Blanchard did with Nicholas Hamilton). I said something like, “Congratulations, and don’t let that clown push you around too much”, to which he replied, “I’ll try not to let you down!”.
At first I was terrified at the thought of becoming “classic” anything at 40. And it was a little weird to know that someone was doing something I may have originated, something I had my stamp on. The reality is he originated a different Ben altogether…his own Ben. He and his Losers carried a standalone feature film that is most certainly not a remake and they did it brilliantly. What an achievement.
I was rooting for him since the beginning and I still am! Did you know Jeremy can rap?
The February after IT opened, Marlon Taylor (young Mike Hanlon 1990) and I finally got to meet our counterparts at a convention in Atlanta. Jeremy is as humble as they get and his family is great. We met up again in Germany and most recently (and funnily enough) arriving to the red carpet for the Chapter Two premiere at the same time. So glad we got that on camera.